Have you ever attended a Homeschool Convention? If not, I highly encourage you to check one out this year! There are a few things I’ve learned over the years – in person as well as virtually!
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I barely remember the first convention I attended. I don’t even know the year, but it had to be 13-14 years ago. One thing I do remember is how overwhelming it was, and oh yes, coming home with a few dissection specimens and art supplies. I had no idea how to navigate such an event, and I wish someone would have given me some tips. So here I am writing, “How to Navigate a Homeschool Convention”.
No matter if you’re brand new, or have been homeschooling a number of years, attending a homeschool convention in-person or virtually has many benefits! You will be encouraged, inspired, renewed, motivated, and likely, very tired after the event. I’ve done both on more than one occasion, and I’m here to tell you that your homeschool is worth the small investment. I’m not an expert on this, but let me offer some tips I’ve learned over the years to help you navigate the homeschool convention.
Traditional Convention Benefits
Where to begin? The informative wokshops? The amazing exhibit hall? The fun girl time? Maybe even the much needed alone time? All are benefits of a homeschool convention!
- Speakers/Workshops – I’ve had the opportunity to sit under some of the very best in the field: Heidi St. John, Andrew Pudewa, Joel Salatin, and even Kirk Cameron (in my kitchen)! Speaking of Kirk Cameron – he will be the keynote speaker at the 2023 Virginia Homeschool Convention! Eeeekkkk! (I think I just convinced myself I need to go!) All excitement aside, the wealth of information squeezed into a weekend is invaluable! Learn different teaching techniques, how-to’s, up-to-date legal information, and so much more. More importantly, you will also get that pep talk you didn’t even know you needed. Yes, homeschool conventions are like a pep rally for YOU!
- Exhibit Hall – I’ve been known to spend hours upon hours here – like I forget to eat lunch, and have a late dinner. Not only do you get to see and touch the curriculum, often you get to talk directly to the authors, publishers, or sales reps. These people know their product better than anyone, and are happy to answer any questions you may have. Many also offer discounts and bundles that are only available through homeschool conventions. It is a curriculum junkie’s paradise!
- Girl Time – This may be my favorite! There’s nothing that beats a road trip with like-minded friends for a weekend of inspiration, shopping, brainstorming, planning, and laughing. Lots of laughing! (I did not mention my husband. He would much rather stay home and hear all about it when I get back, although I do see plenty of spouses at these events).
There are many other benefits, these are just my top three What about if it’s not possible to go to a convention, whether it be finances, distance, or it’s just too peopley? Conventions are definitely peopley, (but the good kind of peopley)! If the traditional convention still isn’t your jam, I get it. Fortunately, there is another fantastic option.
The Virtual Convention
Virtual conventions are also great! There’s not a huge exhibit hall, but there’s also not a ton of people, a long car ride, or hotel expenses. You can still learn under the best right in the comfort of your home, and you can enjoy some girl time. I’m thinking about throwing everyone out of my house, preparing some snacks, and inviting a couple of friends over to watch a few with me! My favorite is the Homegrown Generation Online Family Expo. Sessions are live-streamed right to your home. The conference has many well-known speakers, and what’s really cool is the opportunity to ask questions after each session. You will also have lifetime access to replays of the conference. An added bonus – attending this one gives you access to all the fantastic sessions in 2020!
You might can’t thumb through the fresh curriculum with your own hands, but with registration, you get a Virtual Swag Bag worth hundreds of dollars, and access to the vendor hall for even more deals and giveaways! I just took a peep at what’s available and there’s good stuff – ebooks, printables, unit studies, coupons and more! What’s the cost for all of this? Just $35! This is a deal, and for an even better deal, be sure to click the banner above and use the code “EARLYBIRD” by February 1 to save an additional $10!
I’ll leave you with just a few tips I’ve learned from my own experience with homeschool conventions:
- In person, or virtually – get yourself a pretty notebook and pens to take lots of notes!
- In person, or virtually – register early. Hotels get booked fast. Be sure to mention you are attending the convention – they usually offer discounts.
- In person, or virtually – wear comfy clothes & shoes.
- In person – have a rough plan for your homeschool. It really helps if you know what you need to look for, and the exhibitors you can skip.
- In person – set a budget for the vendor hall. There is so much eye-candy it’s easy to overspend.
- In person – consider purchasing a rolling cart. You will probably need it! Take it from me.
- In person – don’t get overwhelmed in the vendor hall. Talk to the vendors, ask questions, make a list of the ones you may consider purchasing. You don’t have to plan your year at a convention.
- In person – don’t feel like you have to go to every lecture session. Take a look at the schedule and pick just a few favorites. Information overload is very real at these things. Purchase the download to listen to after you return. It’s often priced well for convention attendees.
- In person – many offer activities for kids, however, I would suggest leaving them home if possible. You will need clarity.
- Virtually – set aside some distraction-free time by yourself if possible to tune into the sessions. Create a busy bag for little ones, or get older siblings to watch them for a block of time. Pay them for their services!
- In person or virtually – Take breaks. Some of my most enjoyable times at a convention have been sitting in the hotel Starbucks, chatting with other homeschoolers.
Most of all, have fun! Inspiration, focus, and a renewed energy come from attending a convention, in person or virtually!