Homeschool Convention Tips
My oldest daughter and I attended a homeschool convention last weekend – it was fantastic and amazing! And boy was I beat afterwards!
Last year we didn’t get to go because of the pandemic, and I’d forgotten some things about being at a convention! Things like what shoes to wear, how much sleep you don’t get, and to always bring a water bottle along!
Those are just a few of the things to do and remember so I wanted to dive a little deeper and share some tips on what to do and expect when you go to a homeschool convention – even if you attend online!
So many wonderful session and so little time! Every day we would look at all of the available speakers and titles for each time slot, and most of the time, there were several we wanted to go to!
What’s a homeschool mom to do?
Full disclosure – my youngest is now in college so technically I don’t homeschool anymore. But, I’m a homeschooling mama at heart, and I blog about homeschooling so these convention sessions are still very important to me.
My daughter is planning to homeschool her PreK daughter. (My grandbaby is going to be homeschooled – how cool is that?!!) I went with her to the sessions she chose, and I always learned something. Always.
And that’s my takeaway for convention sessions. There are plenty of things to learn about homeschooling, but if you set your mind on taking steps to learn one new thing that will help you, I think that will guide you in choosing the best session for you.
The sessions at the convention we went to were recorded which is a huge plus for attendees. Take advantage of that!
Also, try some different speakers. Don’t always go for the big names (unless of course that’s what you need for your kiddos). We tried someone I’d never heard of before and loved her presentation style and teaching methods so much we made sure to listen to a different session she had. And we sort of stalked her in the vendor hall. 😉
Vendor hall time
Speaking of vendor halls – can you say overwhelming? Where we were, the vendor hall is humongous. And I have OCD. And my daughter has ADHD.
We were a fun mix!
Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way for vendor halls:
- Plan ahead – What curriculum or information are you looking for?
- Avoid pushy salespeople – Although most homeschool salespeople are truly invested in what they have and want to help, I rarely find pushy ones.
- Visit the vendor hall several times over the course of the convention – helps you break the space down and not be as overwhelmed.
- Grab those flyers and freebies! You never know what you’ll really want to look at when you get home.
- Tell them “no thank you” if you don’t need or want their flyer or whatever. My daughter kept getting college information flyers offered because she looks so young!
- Visit the booths of speakers you’ve listened to and touch base with them. It’s fun to talk to them one-on-one, and my daughter got a book autographed! I connected with one of the speakers at her booth, and she has been emailing with me on some questions I had.
General convention tips
I’ll split these up for online and in person!
- Grab that swag bag! Viewing it on a laptop or computer might be easier, especially with the small ads. Check for any expiration dates and definitely grab those freebies!
- Many online conventions are recorded so you can listen to the sessions as you want to.
- Before listening, write down what you or your kiddo are struggling with, what curriculum you want to look at, or what questions you have. That will help you choose what you want to listen to.
- It’s still possible to make connections in online conventions. Reach out to the speakers you enjoyed and let them know (They will love the feedback!) and ask questions!
- Wear good shoes – I cannot stress this enough!
- Plan where you will park and be prepared to pay to park.
- Carry a backpack or use a rolling cart instead of carrying a purse.
- Take a break! If you need to, skip a session and rest, go visit the vendor hall, get a coffee or a healthy snack. The information is a lot to take in in a few days so be kind to yourself!
- Along those lines – bring water or your favorite soda (Where we were didn’t carry my favorite.) and some good protein snacks. Lines can get long, and you may not want to wait.
- Always, always, do what works best for you!
Attending conventions with kids
My kids weren’t young when I started going to conventions. But I’ve seen plenty of babies, toddlers, and older kids at conventions. What I noticed was often dads went too, and the parents took turns with the kids. Many parents had strollers (great way to tote the books you buy!) as well as wraps to carry the little ones. They had snacks, drinks, and toys for their kiddos. There are often nursing stations at conventions (ask at check-in), and the parents let their kids be kids.
I was in one session where a little one was behind us, and he had just discovered his ability to blow raspberries. It was adorable!! Maybe that mom felt like he was distracting, but I just loved it and it made me happy. If you feel your little one is distracting, you can move or leave for a bit or sit in the back but try not to be too paranoid! We’re all in this homeschooling thing together!
What works for you?
What works for you at conventions? What have you learned not to do? Whether you attend online or in person, homeschool conventions are a wonderful source of encouragement, knowledge, and community. I learn new things every time I go, and I plan to go every year! Actually, I hope to be a presenter soon! So, if you see, my name make sure to come talk to me!
Hi, I’m Jen, a “retired” homeschool mom with 13 years of homeschooling under my belt. I love to help homeschoolers and educators of all kinds find great curriculum and learn more about educating our kids! I teach Oral Communication as an adjunct instructor, I’m a freelance writer, and I write and sell curriculum at History at Home at TeachersPayTeachers & Boom Learning. When I’m not working, I’m spending time with family!