Finding Inspiration to Refresh and Renew Your Homeschool: The Family Guide to Homeschool Conventions
Homeschool convention season is in full swing. Conventions are a wonderful way to connect with other local homeschooling families, discover new curriculum, hear expert talks, and find refreshment. Often by this time of the year, we’re in the winter doldrums and may be beginning to feel burnt out on homeschooling. Perhaps we’re using a curriculum that’s not working well for our children, perhaps we’re struggling to find time management to get it all done or feeling pressure from family members about our homeschool choices. Find yourself a great convention to renew and find inspiration for the rest of our school year and the school ear to come.
However, they can also be incredibly overwhelming. With of people, tables, information overload. We hope to help you navigate homeschool conventions and get the most out of your experiences.
· Pick wisely- it can be tempting to go to every convention in your area. Pick the main one you’re interested in and start with it this year. You can always try another convention next year.
· Use the buddy system. If you have another homeschooling friend, go together! Especially if one of you has been to this conference before.
· Connect in-person. Homeschool conventions are a fantastic way to meet people you know from online groups. Make sure to exchange numbers or pick a time & place for the members of your group to meet. Beautiful friendships can form from meeting your digital friends at conventions!
· Get help with the kids. Many homeschool conventions offer a kid’s program. If not, consider getting a sitter or attending with your spouse, mom, mother-in-law, etc. Having another set of hands to help with kids ensures you can get all the information you want, ask lots of questions to vendors, and have a well-deserved break.
· Make a schedule. Your convention will provide a master schedule of events. There will most likely be more to do than you’re able to do in your time there. Make your own schedule so you can get everything in that you’re hoping for. Make sure to think about what you’re hoping to accomplish most. If you’re most in need of curriculum, budget more time for looking through the tables. If you’re most going for the social time, budget that in. Allow some wiggle room too.
· Check the rules. Yes, homeschool conventions have rules. Some have rules regarding what you can and cannot bring, as well as helpful suggestions on what to wear.
· Familiarize yourself with the area. Do you need to bring your own food? If you have food allergies, make sure there is a restaurant nearby that you can safely eat at or see if there is a cafeteria or tables at the convention for you to eat a sack lunch. Scope out a park for the kids to burn off some energy at, and check out local attractions If you can tack on some extra time.
· Budget your money and bring cash. It can be tempting to splurge on the sales you’ll find. Before you know it, you’ve spent an entire paycheck! Make sure to budget BEFORE you go. And bring cash, oftentimes at the end of conventions, vendors will have deep discounts on the materials left on-hand for cash payments only.
· Look over the vendor list first. Your convention materials will provide a vendor list. Scope out their website, blog, and social media outlets before the conference. Make a list of questions you want to ask any vendors and know who your “must see,” “would like to see,” and “avoid” vendors are.
· Know what you need and want. Before you go, make sure to make a list of your top priorities for what to buy, who to meet, and what to learn.
· Scope out the venue. If you can, scope it out BEFORE the event & you create your schedule. This will help you get an idea for how big the event is. Sometimes larger conventions will even have a map on their website beforehand. When you arrive at the convention, do a quick walkthrough of the venue. Don’t stop, don’t talk to anyone yet. Just get a feel for it and scope out where your “must see” tables are.
· Bring a rolling suitcase or comfortable bag. If you’re planning to buy a lot, bring a rolling suitcase or small cart to put all your purchases in. This will help you avoid having to haul heavy books through the exhibition hall.
· Keep an extra bag on hand (or 2). Having an extra small-bag for flyers is always a clever idea. Then you can quickly sort out the flyers you’re interested in and what need to go in the recycling bin. A second bag for freebies is a good idea too.
· Bring address labels. These conventions have giveaways galore- you could spend the entire time filling out entry forms, or bring sticky labels to plop on and go! Make sure they include address, number, and email address.
· Hydrate, eat and be comfortable. Those cute shoes you have that are super uncomfortable? Don’t even think about them. Wear comfortable shoes, your feet will thank you. Drink plenty of water & make sure to keep a snack in your bag for each member of your family. It’s easy to lose track of time in great convention halls that have no windows!
· Don’t forget a notebook. You’re going to want to take a lot of notes. Bring a notebook and a couple pens.
· Take some time to reflect afterwards. Give yourself time to discuss what you learned with family and friends, to incorporate any changes you learned, and to journal. Perhaps you can get together with friends from the convention and talk about what you all learned together.
· Enjoy!!! Homeschool conventions can feel like summer camp for grownups 😊 Enjoy, ride the post-convention joy for a while and find refreshment & renewal from your convention experience.
Come visit us at the following conventions:
- GHC 2018 Southeast Homeschool Convention
TD Convention Center
March 8-10, 2018
- GHC 2018 Texas Homeschool Convention
Fort Worth Convention Center
1201 Houston St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
March 15-17, 2018
- Virginia Homeschoolers
The Cultural Arts Center
2880 Mountain Road
Glen Allen, VA
March 23-24, 2018
- MPE Midwest Parent Educators Conference 2018
KCI Expo Center
Kansas City, MO
April 4-6, 2018
- GHC 2018 Midwest Homeschool Convention
Duke Energy Convention Center
April 12-14, 2018
- Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators
Mayo Civic Center
April 12-14, 2018
- TPA Homeschool Convention
Century II Convention Center
225 W. Douglas
April 13-14, 2018
- CAPE Homeschool Convention
Legacy Church of Albuquerque
7201 Central Ave NW
April 19-21, 2018
- NCHEA Conference and Curriculum Fair 2018
Indian Hills Community Church
1000 South 84th Street
Lincoln, NE 68510
April 27-28, 2018
- WPA 2018 Wisconsin Parents Association Conference
Holiday Inn Convention Center
Stevens Point, WI
May 4-5, 2018
- Oklahoma Home Educator Convention
Cox Convention Center
Oklahoma City, OK
May 4-5, 2018
- FPEA Homeschool Convention
Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center
May 24-26, 2018
- Thrive NCHE 2018 Homeschool Convention
Benton Convention Center
May 31- June 2, 2018
- THSC Convention - The Woodlands
The Woodlands Waterway Marriott
1601 Lake Robbins Drive
The Woodlands, TX 77380
May 31- June 2, 2018
- HEAV 2018 Home Educators Association of Virginia Homeschool Convention
Greater Richmond Convention Center
June 7-8, 2018
- GHC 2018 California Homeschool Convention
Ontario Convention Center
June 14-16, 2018
- Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschoolers Atlanta Conference
Atlanta Marriott Marquis
July 12-15, 2018
- GHC 2018 Missouri Homeschool Convention
July 19-21, 2018
- 2018 Southeast Homeschool Expo
Cobb Galleria Centre
July 27-28, 2018
Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Colorado. She loves Colorado’s outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.