This weekend is the “local” homeschool convention near me. I have attended this homeschool convention for the last three years, and sadly I won’t be able to go this weekend.
But I know many of you are planning to attend a homeschool convention near you and I would like to share how to prepare to make the most of your experience.
This list assumes that child care and hotel arrangements (if applicable) are already made. You’ve already registered and now it’s time to hop in the car and go!
1. Expectations – What do you want to get out of attending the homeschool convention?
Do you just want to soak it all in and figure it out as you go? or do you have a specific speaker you want to see, or a specific curriculum to buy in the vendor hall?
It’s okay to go there not knowing what to expect and to play it by ear. But you’ll find the convention less overwhelming (especially for first time attenders) if you can think of one thing you want to learn or one person you want to hear speak or one curriculum you want to check out.
With just a little focus and direction you’ll come away from the weekend encouraged.
2. Speakers – Who is on your “must see” list?
Take a look at your homeschool convention’s list of speakers. I like to see if I recognize any names first, then I take a look at the titles of the workshops to see which ones interest me.
If you pick two specific workshops per day that you can’t miss, I think that’s perfect. Any other workshops you make it to is the cherry on top.
If it’s your first time attending a homeschool convention it is easy to feel overwhelmed and confused. So having a little plan in place, not trying to do everything, will make for a much more relaxing time. It’s supposed to be a time of refreshment and encouragement, so don’t push yourself to do all of it.
3. Vendor Hall – What’s your plan of attack?
Honestly, I hate crowds. This area is not very fun for me during the peak times of when everyone is on break, for example. Last year I only “needed” to find one vendor for a curriculum I was wanting to add to.
My plan of attack was to choose one workshop time to miss and spend that time in the vendor hall. It was nice to go right up to the vendor and ask my questions without waiting and without the distraction of the crowds. Then I browsed other vendors for “future reference.”
4. Food – What’s available in the convention center and with in walking distance?
Depending on how far you traveled to attend the homeschool convention depends if you’ll need to find lunch and dinner. You could bring a cooler with sandwiches and just take a trip to the car for lunch break or save the cooler food for dinner on the way home or back to the hotel.
The past two years my hubby and I used the homeschool convention as a mini vacation, so we budgeted eating out at restaurants.
There is one particular restaurant directly across from the convention center that we love but don’t have near our hometown, so we made sure to eat there. We found a little bistro coffee shop around the corner that was really yummy, but it was closed on the weekends so we had to plan to go there on Friday.
The convention center usually has some food vendors open, serving things like hot dogs and pretzels. Some food carts had pre-made sandwiches for sale as well.
Decide how much you’re willing to spend on food during this weekend and make a plan for where you’ll be eating. There is a limited amount of time allotted for lunch break and you don’t want to spend it trying to make a decision.
5. Clothes/ Shoes – Are you wearing layers and comfortable shoes?
Layers are important because you never know if it’ll be too cold in the conference rooms or if it’ll get too hot because of all the people. Wear a light cardigan to start with that you can take off and stuff in your bag when it gets too hot.
Of course you’ll be doing a lot of walking so sneakers or comfortable shoes are a must.
6. Backpack – Do you plan to take notes or bring home merchandise from the vendor hall?
My choice of bag is a backpack because if I am purchasing books or other materials I need a place to carry it all. I’ve brought tote bags and by the end of the day my shoulder is killing me because of all the weight.
I like to take notes so I need a hands free way to carry my notebook and writing utensils. The backpack is a great catch all for the handouts and schedules and information I pick up along the way. When we get back to the hotel I can dump out the bag and then go through everything.
7. Notebook and pencil – How do you like to keep and organize the information you learn?
A simple spiral notebook and pen is really all that’s needed to jot down ideas and information from the workshops. You could bring a folder for any loose papers you’ll collect. I know some are not big into note-taking but even if you have a passing thought or idea you’ll want a place to write it down where you know you can find it again.
The notebook is great because everything you write will be in one place. Once the day is over I look over my notes and reflect upon the day and add any other thoughts. I also like to go through my notes again at some time during the week after the homeschool convention. After my brain has rested and processed the weekend I can more clearly think about what I’ve gleaned from all the workshops.
8. Snacks/ Water bottle – What can you bring that isn’t noisy or messy?
You will get tired and hungry. A little snack is a must to keep you nourished. I like granola bars or raisins. Just check with the convention center about rules, they may check your bags and not allow outside beverages.
9. Money – What’s your budget for the homeschool convention weekend?
You should have some idea of what you can and want to spend. Unexpected food and books add up. Keep cash for the vendor hall. This will help you keep to the budget.
10. Open Mind – What can you learn from each workshop?
Sometimes you sit and listen for 10 minutes and realize the workshop was not quite what you expected. You could quietly excuse yourself to go to another lecture or you could keep an open mind to learn something you never would’ve thought to learn. I’ve been surprised a few times by sticking it out to the end. Even though it wasn’t what I expected to learn it was still something valuable I was able to take away from it.
Also, keeping an open mind helps you to enjoy yourself more. If you’re thinking that you aren’t getting what you wanted out of going and you wish it was different or better, you’re just setting yourself up for a lousy time.
Know that you’ll have a busy weekend with a lot of information coming at you all at once. But also know that the homeschool convention is a time to be encouraged and uplifted.
Prepare with these questions in mind and have a good time, relax and enjoy yourself!
Leave a comment below and let me know what you like to do to prepare going to the Homeschool Convention.