Read This Before You Head to a Homeschool Convention!Andrea Thorpe
The end of the school year is drawing closer, and that means homeschool convention season is in full swing. Across the nation, homeschool families are flocking to venues, both large and small, in search of inspiration, encouragement, knowledge, and supplies. For many families, the homeschool convention season is the most wonderful time of the year!
A homeschool convention can be a valuable resource for homeschooling parents, but potential attendees need to plan carefully in order to ensure the time spent at a homeschool convention is used wisely. Whether you’re a convention newbie or you’re a well-seasoned convention pro, consider these five homeschool convention suggestions from someone who has learned the hard way.
Investigate the Speakers and Workshops
Is there a particular speaker you’d like to hear? Is there a specific subject or topic in which you need assistance? Go the convention website and take time to study the list of featured speakers and explore the workshop selections. You don’t want to waste time and money attending a homeschool convention that will not meet your needs. Choose the convention that will offer you the most pertinent speaker and workshop selections.
Vet the Vendors
Some homeschool families are not interested in workshops or speakers but instead wish to talk to and purchase from curriculum providers. Think about your curriculum selections and visit the convention websites in advance to see if specific vendors will be represented at the convention. Convention vendors often offer discounts and other perks like free shipping to those who purchase at the convention. Checking the vendor list first can help you determine if the convention is worth attending.
Take Advantage of Pre-Registration
Most conventions offer some type of discount to families who register in advance. The pre-registration discount could be a percentage off the regular registration price or might include a buy one get one free deal. Some conventions even offer a grab bag of homeschool goodies to those who pre-register. Generally speaking, you will save money and time by pre-registering. Later registrations are usually more expensive, and some conventions will not accept walk-ins.
Make a Budget and Stick to It
There are ample shopping opportunities available at a homeschool convention. Most conventions feature an exhibit hall where vendors come to sell curriculum and other educational materials. The used curriculum fair is a recent trend at homeschool conventions and a great way to find materials at greatly reduced prices. Make a list of things you wish to purchase and create a spending plan based upon that information. If you hit the convention without a budget, you may end up spending more than you intend or purchasing items you don’t really need.
Plan the Logistics
Some homeschool conventions only last a day while others span an entire weekend. No matter the length of the convention, you’ll find that advanced planning will be beneficial. Do you need to secure a hotel for your stay? If you’re bringing children along, does the convention feature a children’s program they can attend? What times are the specific workshops you wish to attend? What are the convention food options (no food on site, bring your own meals, convention food court)? These are some of the questions you’ll want to answer ahead of time so you’re not wasting time trying to find last minute answers or wandering around aimlessly.
For many homeschool families attending a homeschool convention is a great way to wrap up the school year. There are many opportunities for learning, shopping, and networking. By taking the time to follow the suggestions above, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the time you spend at the homeschool convention.