In the early days of homeschooling, parents had to order from catalogs or go to a homeschool convention to purchase materials. For encouragement, they depended on co-ops and support groups. Now, online ordering and social media have made homeschooling much more convenient. However, there are still some really great reasons that homeschoolers should attend their state convention or local conference!
Online Homeschool Conventions
If attending a homeschool convention isn’t possible for you, consider an online homeschool convention. It can be more affordable (often free), and more convenient for your schedule.
5 Reasons to Attend a Homeschool Convention
Let me offer five reasons why, in my opinion, all homeschoolers should attend a homeschool convention.
1) Support Others
Think back to your early homeschooling days. You can probably identify at least one person who helped you get started, answered your questions, and encouraged you over the rough spots. The homeschooling convention provides an opportunity for you to offer that same support to others. When you’re walking the convention hall, watch for the newbie with the “deer in the headlights” look or the veteran homeschooler who droops with discouragement. You never know who you might be able to encourage!
2) Educate Yourself
Education is a constantly-changing field. As a home instructor, you owe it to yourself and your family to keep abreast of the latest developments. What new curriculum materials are available? What new ideas or techniques will help you in your teaching? Attending a homeschool convention will help you answer these questions.
3) Renew Your Vision
Why are you homeschooling? This question might take you aback for a moment, but it’s important to stop regularly and revisit why you made this important decision. The homeschooling convention can help you focus on what’s really important — the vision for what you do on a daily basis.
4) Visit the Vendors
If you’re a homeschooling veteran, you may be tempted to visit only certain vendors or bypass the exhibit hall entirely. But wait! Curriculum providers depend on customer feedback to help them determine whether they’re on the right track. If you let vendors know what you like and don’t like about their programs, the quality of homeschooling curriculum in general will improve, benefiting everyone.
5) Excel in Your Calling
If you have been called to homeschool, then you should train for your calling. The homeschooling convention provides the perfect opportunity to listen, learn, interact, and grow so that you can pursue excellence in your ministry as a homeschooling parent.
Notice that the first letters in the numbered points above spell out the word “SERVE.” A homeschool convention is an opportunity to serve — serve your family, serve other homeschoolers, and serve the vendors. Homeschooling conventions are an important resource; make sure you take advantage of the one nearest you this year.
Tips on How to Survive a Homeschool Convention
Whether it’s your first time or your fifteenth, attending a homeschool convention can be a challenge. You can come home enriched and encouraged, or you can come home defeated and drained—physically, mentally, and financially.
The following tips are offered to help you become the victorious conqueror of the homeschool convention.
Avoid the temptation to procrastinate — start planning early!
There are several important considerations to keep in mind when deciding how you will spend your time at the convention.
Think Through Travel & Lodging
Consider both economy and convenience. It may be cheaper to stay at a friend’s house, but it may make more sense to book a hotel that’s close to the convention.
Take advantage of any “early bird” discounts, and get all the information you can about the convention ahead of time: featured speakers, workshops, vendors, map, directions, etc.
With this information in hand, you can begin planning your personal agenda.
Review the Schedule
Highlight the sessions you really want to attend. Consider alternate choices so that, if your first choice is full or turns out to be a dud, you can quickly slide into another session. Don’t feel that you need to attend a workshop every time one is offered.
If it’s a vendor workshop, you may be able to get the same information by visiting the booth in the exhibit hall.
Many conventions provide recordings of the sessions, which you can purchase for a nominal fee.
Think ahead to the exhibit hall. Be sure your personal agenda includes plenty of time for visiting the exhibit hall and for just plain resting. Homeschool conventions can be exhausting if you don’t stop to recharge your batteries.
Before You Go
Print out your registration confirmation, lodging information, directions, maps, and any other materials that you will need.
At the Convention
Into the fray! Armed with your personal agenda, you arrive on time and find a seat in your first workshop. Not what you expected? Don’t feel obligated to stay! Either slip into your alternate selection or revise your agenda – it’s meant to be a guide, not a dictator.
Perhaps you decide to visit the exhibit hall first. Be sure to give yourself time for at least three laps around, if the venue is not too large. The first time, look over all the booths, without stopping, to get a general overview of what’s available. Then take some time to decide which booths you want to visit more extensively.
On your second trip around, stop at the booths where you would like to get more information, enter drawings, or pick up catalogs. Now plan an extensive break that will allow you to make your final purchasing decisions.
Since you have scheduled your day wisely, given yourself breaks, and kept hydrated, you will come to the end of the convention feeling tired but happy. You will have gained inspiration and a renewed focus, ready to continue leading your family in its homeschooling adventure. You — yes, you! — have survived the homeschool convention!
What to Pack for a Homeschool Convention
At the very least you’ll want to pack your bag with comfy walking shoes and a notebook or electronic device for recording information.
If the venue allows, pack your own water and food, as you will be talking a lot.
Take a large tote bag (or, better yet, a bag on wheels, if permitted by the venue) for catalogs and purchases.
The following is a list of other items you may want to include in your homeschool convention packing list:
• Shopping list
• Phone chargers
• Small first aid kit
• Activities and games for the littles
• Sweater or jacket
Additional Homeschool Convention Resources
There is a plethora of helpful information about homeschool conventions on the internet. Here are some resources that we’d like to share with you:
Homeschool Conferences & Events (Listed by state with an interactive map)
Homeschool Convention Survival Guide (Free eBook)
See Demme Learning at a Homeschool Convention
At the Demme Learning booth you can stop by for a personalized demonstration of our Math-U-See and Spelling You See products. Our knowledgeable staff is happy to answer any of your questions.