Holy buckets am I pleased! When this idea of blogging about attending homeschool conventions crammed full and guaranteeing fun, I thought it would be eye opening. Eye opening in a behind the scenes National Enquirer kind of way. I am extremely happy that I was wrong. Of course I will be writing about my experiences with homeschool conventions but my homeschool friends and families have something to say about them also. Instead of acting like National Enquirer we will be reporting more like Molly Green. Helpful. Knowledgeable. People friendly. No one who shared with me had anything bad or ugly to share. This means homeschool convention planners and volunteers; you are doing a great job! Keep up the good work!
In my experience the only bad or ugly thing that happened to me at a homeschool convention had to do with the public parking lot. Unfortunately, someone side swiped our car and tried to get away without taking responsibility. The Lord was watching out for us and prompted the parking lot attendant to tell us about it. He saw the whole thing and showed us which car the driver had used. The driver did respond to the note we put on their car and his insurance took care of the repairs. Done deal.
Now the rest of this blog is going to be a DO THIS but DON’T DO THAT kind of blog. If you can’t remember everything here, make sure you book mark this blog or add it to your favorites on your browser for the next time, or the first time, you attend a homeschool convention. Think of this as your planning list for attending your event. And if you are a homeschool convention planner or volunteer, please feel free to add this blog page to your website for your attendees. When all is said and done let me know if these tips will make your time crammed full or make it manageable. Manageable will let the fun in guaranteed. We want your first, or next, convention experience to be one that you talk about with all of your friends.
- A sweater or light jacket. Convention rooms tend to be cold inside especially like at the Arizona Families for Home Education Convention (AFHE) in Phoenix the beginning of July. Hot outside. Cold inside.
- Good walking shoes. There are lots of miles to cover no matter how big the convention.
- A notebook and pen to take notes and write down questions you have for the vendors or presenters. You can even ask questions of the other parents as they might have been where you are now and can give sage advice. Also, give yourself space to write down contact information for the new people you are going to meet. This is part of the fun guaranteed.
- This will help you stay within your budget as Dave Ramsey teaches in his Financial Peace University classes. If the vendors won’t take cash, then you shouldn’t be buying from them right now. This pause will help you to make a less emotional decision about the curricula you are looking into buying.
- Pull-along tote. Curricula gets heavy and you don’t want to go away with an injury from your day.
- Food and water. In most cases the convention centers sell food but it is expensive. Have a stash in your car or hotel room. You can even bring a crock pot to keep it healthier.
- Hand sanitizer. You can shake a lot of hands throughout the day.
- Toilet paper. Just in case of an emergency. You might be able to sell it in that situation too.
- Convention Booklet. Your guide dog for the day or yellow brick road to fun.
- Address Labels. Include your name, snail mail address, phone number and email. These are great for the contests. WARNING! The vendors will add you to their email lists in exchange for your valuable information. But that’s okay because you really, really want to know more about them and not just the freebies, right? Just the freebies, right? 🙂
PLAN OF ATTACK:
- Register early to get the discounts. You will need to decide who is going to the convention. It is highly recommended that you take either your spouse or a close friend to share the duties. Even seasoned convention goers like having a second person on hand so you have someone to bounce off ideas and divide and conquer. The bigger the convention the more overwhelming it can be. DO NOT think you have to have your kids there as kids can equal chaos, especially the first time you attend.
- Look at the speaker line-up. Most of the speakers nowadays and the vendor speakers will have a website. If they don’t, it will be a big chance for you to sit in on their sessions. Make sure their beliefs are the same as yours. Notice the time and place of the speakers. Make a list chronologically of the sessions. Mark them on the map in the brochure. Go over the list with your travel partner to make sure you aren’t doubling up on any. DO NOT spend all of your time at the sessions as there is more waiting for you elsewhere.
- Sit in the back of the session. I know you are all thinking if we all sit in the back it will look like a mutiny is about to happen. Don’t worry. The speakers will just think they are in church speaking. Ha! Ha! Some speakers are hard to listen to for a long period of time and some might not tell you what you came to hear. DO NOT let the door slam if you leave the session early.
- Research the curricula ahead of time. A lot of the homeschool associations have a vendor page on their website with links to all of the registered vendors. You could make this a class assignment for your students and get their feedback. Make a list of your questions so you are prepared. DO NOT purchase anything within the first hour or even the first half of day one. Writing as a vendor it kind of sounds counterproductive but this will cut down on the emotional buying. We don’t like people going away with buyer’s remorse. We want you to be totally happy with your purchases.
- Ask vendors about their convention specials. Some vendors will run their specials just on site or they will run them all month on their websites. Always take whatever is free especially demos. DO NOT try to bargain with the vendors as their prices are set so they can afford to feed their own families and be at the convention. If the price isn’t in your budget, put it on your wish list for purchasing online later.
- Get a babysitter for the little ones to stay home. Less chaos this way. But if you can’t afford the babysitter, DO NOT stress over it. Take your time going through the convention and plan on coming back the next day. Go through the convention in little pieces. You will see what you are meant to see.
- Make a list of children’s ages and grades. This will help you when looking at the curricula. Set a spending limit and stick with it. One of the biggest challenges to married life is “discussions” about money. You will want to be sure you can go back again and if you stick to the budget you will be sure of it. DO NOT use your credit card if it takes you over your budget.
- Save your convention brochure. You will be able to keep track of the vendors and speakers from year to year. DO NOT throw it away. Save it in a folder at home for future reference.
- Buy the workshop recordings. A great way to hear everybody you didn’t get to. Another helpful tool for your next convention. Split the cost with your friends and share it among yourselves. DO NOT hog it so your friends don’t get to hear the recordings. That is bad for your friendship.
So what do you think? Will these tips and tricks bring on the fun? I think so. The world of conventioning awaits you!
Before I let you go, I would like to share with you a convention check off list that will help you with your packing and planning. Click on the picture below and it will direct you to our site. Sign up for our newsletter and you will know whenever we have freebies and new curriculum downloads for our website subscribers. You must sign up in order to get your first freebie.