It is that time of the year when homeschool families are busy planning for their next year and (hopefully) attending homeschool conventions. If you haven’t been to one before, I encourage you to attend at least one.
The very first convention we attended was quite interesting. It was a bit rough (an understatement). Our youngest was 7 months old at the time and since she was nursing she had to go with us. The trip threw her off which threw us off. One of the nights I think it was 5 AM before the baby (and I) finally fell asleep. Despite the few bumps we did enjoy ourselves. Last year, it was just hubby and I that attended the convention and then in the fall we attended the Special Needs Conference for the first time. This year will be our third year attending the convention. I am looking forward to the time away with hubby!
There is a vendor hall and you will meet dozens of vendors. Some vendors you may have heard about and others are new. You get to see the curriculum in person, flip through it, have any questions answered. Most vendors offer some sort of convention special whether it is a percentage off, a free item, or free shipping (Some offer some sort of combination). If you are going to be attending multiple days, don’t plan on buying anything on the first day unless you know for 100% you need it. Like the next level of curriculum that is totally working and you have no desires of changing it. Collect brochures of booths that you stop at and take them back to your hotel room and look through them. Make a note of any booths that you want to revisit and write down any questions that you have. Go back and visit the booths again.
Workshops! I absolutely love workshops! After the weekend I come back refreshed and renewed! There are 13 sessions at my local convention spread over two days. Lots of hard decisions to make on which workshops to attend and which ones to catch on the audio recordings. If your convention offers the workshops on audio files, it is worth it to buy a copy to listen to workshops throughout the year.
If you can swing it and stay at the host hotel, I highly recommend it. The first two years we stayed off site and then for the conference this past fall we were able to stay on site. It made a world of difference! When you stay off site, you have to get up earlier, go eat, drive to the host hotel, wait in long lines to park (our convention has over 15,000 people attending – we have waited 30+ minutes to park) and then the time it takes to go from your car to get in. Once you are there you are stuck there until you are ready to leave for the day. With staying at the host hotel for the fall conference, I was able to get up and eat a quick bite and head over to the conference. It was nice not having to deal with parking and the conference was tiny compared to the convention! Hubby was able to sleep in and catch up with me later on in the morning. We decided this year if we were able to get a room at the host hotel we would do that again. The special convention rates at the hotel is only available for a very short time because it fills up quickly. It was only available for a few weeks before the rooms were sold out. If you want to stay on site plan to reserve your room early!
- Bring your own bottled water and snacks
- Buying them onsite is EXPENSIVE! I think it was a couple of dollars for one piece of fruit. A few dollars for a can of soda or water.
- Bring a rolling cart to carry purchases, catalogs, etc.
- Print out address labels with your name, address, and email address for the vendor booths.
- Wear comfy clothes and shoes. Lots of walking is done!
- Have fun!
Please share any other tips you may have for attending homeschool conventions!
Have a blessed day!