Convention season is rapidly approaching and if you’ve never been to a homeschool convention before you might be wondering if it’s worth the effort. Sometimes, even if you’ve been to a homeschooling convention before you wonder if it’s worth the effort.
Just to make it to the big event you will have to convince your husband, pay for registration, find a babysitter if he goes with you (or add the cost of children’s convention if it is available), pay for a hotel if it’s in another city (and chances are good that for most of us it will be), pay for food, and work out any logistics of travel.
So it is not a small thing you are committing to, but it is worth it. Here are ten reasons why you should attend a homeschool convention and you can find a homeschool convention for 2016 here.
Bonding. Homeschool conventions provide a fabulous way to bond with your spouse, make sure you are both on the same page with your homeschooling efforts, and get his support. Make it a date weekend! Bring up the grandparents to watch the kids and spend the weekend with your spouse praying over your homeschool and making wise choices.
My husband and I have attended several conventions together without children and even found one of our favorite restaurants ever in downtown Richmond VA one year. We still talk about those pretzels! What we find every single time we make the effort to go is that we get a really good chance to focus in on our homeschool and figure out where to go next as a team.
Evaluation. You get to evaluate curriculum in real life. Yeah, I know. Most curriculum is available to peruse online. You will find a few sample pages, some pictures, and maybe even a free book or two with usable lessons that will give you a feel for how a curriculum works. But nothing compares to actually looking at the curriculum in real life. Touching the books, reading the back chapters, looking at the illustrations, checking to see if the activities are something that will work with your sensory-seeking child. You can dive into the details when you visit booths in the convention hall and actually look at the things you’ve been considering.
Insight. Talk to the publishers and authors. When you attend a homeschool convention you can often talk directly to the people who wrote or lovingly published the books you think you want to use. They will be the best person to answer your questions, provide you with insight about how the curriculum works with different types of children, and give you a good idea of the worldview presented in the material. All you have to do is ask, and that is why they are there.
Training. Take your teens to the Teen Convention. One of the best conventions I’ve attended was the Great Homeschool Convention in Long Beach, CA when I took my teens along for the teen convention. They had their workshops and I had mine and we met for meals and between sessions to debrief. It gave my teens a better understanding of homeschool culture, teen culture, and a Christian worldview. (This particular convention had a Worldview focus for teens. Check the convention you want to attend to see if they have a teen track available.)
Vacation. Many homeschool conventions are located in the capitol of your state or in a large city with several tourist attractions. Both of these locations can be an excellent opportunity to enjoy some sight seeing or field trips with your family before and after the convention. If you take the whole family, be sure to plan some time to see local attractions. Sometimes, I’ve seen where Dad takes the kids to an amusement park or Civil War battlefield while mom goes to the convention. This is an excellent option too.
Refreshment. A little time away from home can be an encouragement in and of itself. If you have a chance to go by yourself, you can re-charge, refresh, and really do some personal reflection without the noise of family life surrounding you. You can take your time in the vendor hall without little hands tugging on your pockets, and really listen in the sessions you choose to enjoy.
You can also stay up late and chat with the friends you meet up with. I’ve attended homeschool conventions by myself in the past and came away from that weekend feeling like I just had a very busy but wonderful vacation and was ready to get back into the thick of family life. I have a friend who attends one homeschooling conference annually with a small group of local friends. They are so refreshed! Sometimes moms really do just need a few nights away.
Learning. Learn from the best. Convention organizers spend a ton of time vetting speaking applicants and choosing the best of the best to present workshops at your homeschool conventions. The best part is – these people are real homeschooling moms and dads with real lives at home. The sessions they will present will bless you, encourage you, inspire you, and yes TEACH you.
I’ll never forget the session my husband and I attended where we finally understood some of the issues we were having with a special needs child. I can tell you we sat there in shock for a moment when they started describing “our child” and then took notes frantically and spent several hours comparing notes and discussing what we learned during the rest of the convention and all the way home. That learning was such a blessing to us, and ultimately a blessing to our child!
And I’ve found that these workshop speakers tend to be available to chat with you if you take the time. They are in it for ministry and they are happy to talk to you between sessions.
Savings. Vendors at conventions often offer special discounts just for attendees, and some conventions even have a used vendor hall. Both are very valuable to you and can save you hundreds of dollars on the supplies you need. I’m not exaggerating here. If a core curriculum you are looking at is 25% off at convention and costs $400, you can save $100 by buying it there instead of through the website. Now, not every vendor does this, but many will offer savings.
Planning. When you attend a homeschool convention and spend time poring over the curriculum and making choices, you can begin to formulate a plan for your homeschool year. Maybe you already have a basic plan in place before you go, but attending a convention is going to help you round out that plan and fill in the blanks. Spend the evenings and meals thinking through what your homeschool is going to look like during the next school year. Make a plan.
Encouragement. Spend time hobnobbing with other homeschool moms. If you are like me, at various stages of your homeschooling career you spend a lot of time in the trenches with your students, and not a lot of time with other homeschool moms who can answer your questions and support your decisions.
At homeschool conventions, you will meet the most friendly people and you can sit down next to someone ten minutes before a session starts and be deep in a fabulous and helpful conversation about how to deal with your tween’s attitude in 30 seconds. I’ve been there. Homeschool encouragement happens at homeschool conventions. You can do this, Mom. Attending a homeschool convention can help.
Some of these reasons don’t go together do they? That’s because we are each so different and in different seasons of life. The reasons I might choose to go to a convention this year will be very different than the reasons I went when my oldest was four. My purposes change, and my experiences change as I go through different seasons in life. Some of these reasons stay constant though. Encouragement. Planning. Learning. Refreshment. These things are going to happen when you attend a homeschool convention whether you take others along or not.
Are you leaving the kids at home this year for a homeschool convention or business trip? Use this fun free printable to help them adjust to Mommy being gone and give them some fun activities to do to pass the time until Mom gets home.