My first tip to share in our 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents is why you should attend a homeschool convention.
As we come into the homeschool convention season, you are surely seeing lots of advertisement for many different homeschool conventions and, if you aren’t an avid attendee, you may be wondering what the fuss is all about.
First, let me know tell you about the types of homeschool conventions there are and then I will tell you why you and your husband should consider attending one near you.
First – There are commercial conventions like the Great Homeschool Convention. This is a national, commercial, for-profit organization that gets vendors and speakers together and hosts a convention for homeschoolers. The ticket prices profit the convention and you can usually find a lot of vendors and speakers as well as entertainment and information at these. There are others other than the Great Homeschool Convention that are nationally run and you will see they are run similarly.
Next – There are State Homeschool Convention. These are typically a little smaller, closer to home and the ticket prices benefit the homeschooling functions in your state. For instance, in Indiana, the IAHE Homeschool Convention is sponsored by a non-profit ministry, IAHE, and entrance fees are used to keep lobbyist working for our homeschooling rights in our state. They go right back to our state to support homeschoolers. You can read more about that here.
There are advantages and disadvantages of both conventions. You will see more vendors at a national convention. You will see more booths and vendors that are particular to your state, your area, and your interests at your state convention. For instance, you are likely to find co-operatives, field trip groups, local camps and schools that cater to homeschoolers, and intramural and group music and sports opportunities in your area.
Now, let me tell you why it’s so fun to attend a homeschool convention.
One of best things about attending a homeschool convention, in my opinion, the opportunity to view the curriculum and supplements available and see what educational games, books and materials are new (or old) and available. I love finding a fun learning game that works on critical thinking or pairs with what we are studying. And I love putting my hands on the next books or something I have heard about and seeing if it looks like something that would be good for my kids.
Then there are the extra curricular activities and extras that are usually present. If you are attending a national convention, this might not be something that is helpful to you if you have traveled a great distance to attend. However, if you are attending your state convention, you can find intramural sports, club, music lessons, local co-operatives and groups, and even your local library highlighting programs that cater to homeschoolers.
My kids love going to the homeschool convention and picking out a new educational game or book. I always plan to purchase the next math books we need or any other curriculum books that I need at the convention. In addition to supporting the vendors and my state convention, I also save on shipping. Who doesn’t love to save, right?
Plus you never know what might happen at the homeschool convention. You might meet someone famous or even stick your head in a dinosaur mouth!
And then there are the speakers. I love having the opportunity to hear some of the speakers. This can be a great way to learn more about an educational style, a curriculum, or get parenting or educational advice on special needs, learning disorders, schooling boys, schooling multiple ages, schooling high school, teaching creative writing or many other topics. You can see sample speakers and topics by viewing the agenda and speaker schedule for the homeschool convention you plan to attend. You can see an example from my state homeschool convention this year here. This is a great way to plan your visit. If you see a speaker that you know you want to see, plan to attend on that day or during those times, so you can have time to browse before or after listening to the speakers that you are interested in.
My husband and I make attending our homeschool convention a date for us. We get a sitter, attend for the day, refresh our homeschool plan, discuss plans for our kids educational future, see what sports are available and talk with other groups of interest, then we go to dinner and make an evening of it, recapping conversations, lectures and curricula we saw. It really keeps my husband engaged in our homeschool decisions and is a great time for us to connect and ensure we are on the same page regarding our children’s educations.
Attending a homeschool convention, if you have never been, can be overwhelming. But just go with a plan, a budget and some time to stroll and think and listen to lectures. You will come away inspired and rejuvenated!
Day #2 – How to Maximize your Library
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