Homeschool Convention 101: At The Convention

It’s finally time to go to your long-anticipated convention!

Go drop the kids off with their grandparents (or you’re babysitter) and head out early. I suggest getting there as the doors open for three reasons.
1) Pick up tickets/wristbands or to purchase tickets. If you have younger children you might want to wait until the morning of to buy tickets just in case the random sickness occurs. You may lose out on an early bird discount but it’s better to pay a bit more than it is to lose out completely.
2) This way you have time to look through your goodie bag. Most conventions will give you a large bag of catalogs and promotional gear right as you come in the door. You may find coupons or deals to specific vendors in your bag as well. Having a chance to look through these before hitting the exhibitor hall can be very helpful!
3) Find the bathrooms, the session rooms, the concession area and the stairs. I know this might sound odd but just go with it. You’ll thank me later!

So you’ve made it to the convention early, you’ve attended your first set of sessions and now it’s time to go to the exhibitors hall! Since you’ve already researched the exhibitors you aren’t going in blind and you should have you’re list with you, so you’re fairly prepared, so…..be ready to still feel overwhelmed. You can never be fully prepared for the craziness of the exhibitors hall and everything within! As soon as you go in stop and take a deep breath. Remember you are prepared and go.

While in the exhibitors hall…
• Start at the left of the entrance and go through each aisle.
– at this point you don’t have to look at each display in great depth, simply skim through it all noting what catches your eye
– if they don’t have curriculum that would work for you (subjects or grades you don’t teach) then put a mark through their booth on your map (if you don’t have a booth map then cross off their name on your exhibitor listing)
• After you have made it all the way around once, go back through looking at each booth that interested you.
– pick up their catalog
– make notes about what you like
– thumb through the grade/curriculum you need
– DO NOT BUY ANYTHING YET!
• Go home!
– day one is now over!

While at home…
• Get out those catalogs, any notes you made while at vendor booths, and your curriculum needs list.
– go through your curriculum list and mark each curriculum you liked for each grade and subject
– start with one child and go through each subject looking at your choices, check the pros/cons of each choice
– mark your top two choices
• Talk to your spouse
– get them involved in your curriculum choices! Always remember that they are a very important part of your homeschooling journey!

After making your curriculum choices…
• See if you can borrow it from the library or a homeschool lending library
– some libraries carry homeschool curriculum options so check there first, free is always the best option!
– lending libraries are also great for borrowing curriculum, most charge a small membership fee plus a small yearly fee for each item you check out, our library costs $3 for a card and $1 for each checked out item, so still super cheap!
• Look for used curriculum
– check Facebook, curriculum swap websites, eBay, half.com, and used curriculum sales, great deals can be had through these options!
• Buy new at the convention
– they usually offer special deals like free shipping or a percentage off, if you do end up buying new this will save you some money and any money saved is a plus!

I found this cartoon at All Natural Me that sums up curriculum well:

20120430-215150.jpg

I also want to direct you to a great Convention Session I heard that I think every single homeschooler needs to hear and save for listening to during the rough patches! Todd Wilson is a wonderful speaker and all of his audio presentations can be found by clicking here. I highly recommend Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe! He also wrote a book under the same title which I will be reviewing this summer during my Preparing for a New Year series!

I hope you have found this series to be helpful. If you have any more tips or questions please feel free to commit!

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