5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Homeschool Conventions
Homeschool conventions are a must for any homeschooling family. Between the vendor hall, workshops, and guest speakers, there is a ton to learn and gain from these events. Held annually by different organizers throughout the country, homeschool conventions draw thousands of families, each with their own personal homeschooling stories and different backgrounds, but all with one thing in common: they want to provide the best at home education for their children.
And homeschool conventions are not just for browsing. They are also great places to shop for curriculum or anything else you may need for your homeschool, as well as plan for the upcoming school year.
But with dozens, sometimes even hundreds of exhibitors and vendors at some of the bigger homeschool conventions, it can be quite easy to get overwhelmed. Whether you’re attending for the first time or are a veteran attendee, here’s are our top 5 tips to help you make the most of these can’t miss events.
Tip #1: Plan ahead
The convention organizer’s website is a great place to start. You’ll find the exhibitor list, featured speakers, and the schedules for the exhibit hall, workshops, and other events taking place.
This information will help you plan your day and allow you to make the most of your time at the convention. Don’t forget to give yourself a few hours of ‘free time’ in case anything interesting pops up that you want to see or do. Here, you can also register for the convention and take advantage of discounted hotel rates. Which takes us into tip #2.
Bonus tip: Many conventions seek out volunteers to help out in exchange for free tickets, so if you’ll be available for a few hours, it’s worth looking into.
Tip #2: Make travel arrangements early
If you’re traveling and will require overnight accommodations, book your hotel early. Many convention organizers offer early bird discounts for nearby hotels, and if you’re planning on staying at one of the nicer hotels, these savings can save you quite a bit of money. But book early! Rooms can sell out months before the convention begins.
Tip# 3: Don’t leave the kids behind
Many conventions feature daytime events for children, so you can enjoy the event and really take your time with those must-see vendors. For older students, there’s also the opportunity to volunteer, sit it on special tracks and workshops, and even meet with many colleges and universities that attend. Depending on the venue, a lot of convention organizers will also host evening activities for families like game night, concerts, and more.
Tip #4: Prep the night before
If traveling with children, make sure to bring along things like juice boxes, water, granola bars, and fruit. Sure, you’ll probably find eateries within the convention center, but save yourself the money and, if it’s allowed, bring your own snacks. It’s amazing how an empty stomach can affect everyone’s energy level and mood, so be prepared. Don’t forget to dress comfortably and wear a good pair of walking shoes. It also helps to bring a rolling cart, backpack or tote.
Tip #5: Get to know the area
Since you’re visiting a new city, explore your surroundings and visit popular attractions like museums, zoos, and other destinations. If you’re traveling with the kids, these stops can also double as educational field trips.
Check out more convention info, including which ones Time4Learning will be at this year in our Convention Itinerary post.
Definitely agree with setting a game plan. I try to review the various vendors ahead of time to create a list of those I *may* be interested in. If the convention is more than one day, visit the vendors you wish the first day but unless you are sure, take a break and come back the next day for major purchases. This can cut down on some of the buyer’s remorse. (Granted, since Time4Learning doesn’t require any long term contracts and is truly affordable, this doesn’t apply! :D)It is easy to get overwhelmed – particularly at some of the larger conventions! DO take time to sit in on some of the various workshops. These can give you a much-needed boost to carry you through the months ahead!There can be a LOT of walking! Dress for comfort!Finally — set a budget, but include some for extra goodies. (Books are my Achilles heel. LOL) You’ll find science / STEM kits, art supplies, and booths filled with children’s literature…. and more! It can be easy to get carried away! (TRUST ME… and my recovering slowly checking account!)It truly is an experience! Go with a friend. Take the family… or go alone! If nothing else it is inspiring to see so many homeschooling families gathered in one spot! Enjoy!
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