It’s that time of year again! Time to keep an eye out for the homeschool conventions this summer, and begin registering! While school may still be in full-swing, it’s definitely time to start thinking about those conventions. Early convention sign-ups and hotel deals can even result in discounts occasionally. Not to mention the fact that procrastinating is always stressful.
Here at Let’s Homeschool High School, we’d like to give you some tips for attending & navigating those homeschool conventions this summer. Even if you only attend one convention, these tips should come in handy!
Family. Decide which family members will be coming. Some families enjoy bringing their entire family, little ones included, while others prefer only their teens, or just the parents. Knowing how many family members are coming will also help determine the funds you’ll need for your spending budget on food, snacks, and drinks while there.
Hotel reservations. As soon as you know the dates of the convention you will be attending, your next step should be to make the hotel reservations as soon as possible. The closer to the date, the more expensive the room(s) will be.
Make a list. Peruse your current curriculum & supplies, notating exactly what you will need for next year, what you would like to get, and ideas for anything you’d like to look for. Having this list ahead of time will save you extra headache in the overwhelming curriculum hall!
Plan your budget. If you have a tight budget for extra expenses, make sure to keep that in mind. Saving ahead of time will help a lot! Once you know the amount you can spend, write it down and stick to it. Knowing a figure ahead of time will help with stress at the convention.
Take a look at the schedule. One of our favorite things to do was browse through the schedule and circle the topics that look most interesting/relevant to us. This always gave us a better idea of what our days looked like.
Consider parking. Look into the parking situation. Where will you be parking? Will it cost anything? If so, what is the fee? How far is the walking distance to the convention center?
Be aware of the curriculum hall. If you are new to homeschool conventions, odds are, the curriculum/exhibitor’s hall is going to be fairly overwhelming and intimidating at first. It can be helpful to look through the map to pick out which exhibitors you’d like to visit first, and then browse the rest. Also, keep in mind that exhibitors are there to be helpful and they love homeschoolers! Don’t be afraid to stop and chat without making a purchase.
Think about the food. There are always food stands at homeschool conventions, but it tends to be pricey. Make sure to look into whether or not snacks and lunches are allowed in the convention center, and specifically which rooms allow it. Another good idea is to research the nearby restaurants.
Bring a rolling cart. You may think that a bag is all you need for your purchases, but I assure you, you will fill it very quickly, and it will be very heavy. A rolling cart makes it so much easier to carry your purchases around and even store water bottles, snacks, or lunches if they are allowed.
Wear comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking, and your feet will despise you if you don’t wear comfortable shoes with good support. Also consider the temperature of the convention hall. Is it likely to be air conditioned? Consider as well that sometimes air conditioning can become too cold, or maybe it won’t be cool enough. My suggestion: removable layers.
Recorded speakers. If it seems like you won’t make it to all your preferred speakers, more often than not there are recordings of the presentations for purchase. This may help ease your mind and keep you from overbooking your day.
Pace yourself. Day One: Consider. Day Two: Purchase. A good rule of thumb is to not make any purchases the first day. Think about everything you’ve seen, sleep on it, and make a decision the next day when you’ve had some time to sort out what really stood out to you. This will help with your budget as well.
Technology. Bring a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Readily available technology makes it easy to compare prices, record notes, and keep in contact with family members scattered throughout the convention. Note-taking while listening to speakers is also very handy on a laptop, or tablet with a keyboard.
Tialla Rising is a homeschool graduate and a published author. She lives in the mountains of Arizona with her amazing husband, where she enjoys reading, Netflix, writing, and more! Visit her website at http://www.tiallarising.com.