Homeschool conventions are exhilarating, informative, interesting and exhausting! I vividly recall my first homeschool convention, even though it was nearly 25 years ago. There was so much to see and learn! I loved being around so many like-minded people who, like me, actually spent their days with their children.
Today, there are far more vendors, workshop presenters and homeschoolers than there were when I began attending conventions. These events can be quite overwhelming, particularly for prospective and new homeschoolers.
The best convention experience is one for which you’ve prepared yourself. Here are a few keys to success as a convention attendee:
- Study your convention brochure closely ahead of time, so you can choose which sessions you especially want to attend. Highlight them so you can easily refer to them on the day of the convention.
- Be sure to read the speaker biographies. By learning about each speaker, you’ll have a better idea of where they’re coming from in terms of experience.
- If your husband cannot attend the convention with you, try to arrange carpooling with one or more homeschooling friends. It makes the travel time pass faster, plus you’ll be able to compare notes about speakers and sessions on your way home.
- Many homeschool convention organizers don’t allow children to attend; they see the event as an educational opportunity for parents. If that’s the case at the convention you’re attending, be sure to make childcare arrangements far enough ahead of time so that you’re all set for the big day.
- If you’re a nursing mom, you’ll likely be allowed to bring the baby. Be sure you also bring everything your baby needs for a full day of comfort, including extra clothes and diapers, a pacifier to prevent crying during sessions, and an extra blanket in case of excessive air conditioning.
- Pack a cooler with plenty of bottled water, snacks, and your lunch.
- Wear comfy shoes and clothes; you’ll be on your feet a lot in the vendor hall.
- Bring a sturdy tote bag (for purchases), a notebook and several pens. (Some people like to bring a wheeled tote or box to drag around, but it’s a real nuisance in a crowded vendor hall.)
- Make sure you have cash and/or checks on you; some smaller vendors don’t accept credit cards.
Don’t forget your convention brochure and the passes or name tags that were sent to you! If you didn’t register ahead of time, be sure to arrive early so you have time to register on-site without missing the first session.
(Excerpted from The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling. Order direct from Cardamom Publishers and get a 111-page eBook free with your purchase.)