I’ve been homeschooling for 16 years, but it wasn’t until around year 10 that I went to my first homeschool convention. There were a few reasons why I didn’t go, but the biggest one was it was too overwhelming.
I am an impulse shopper. So, I was afraid that I would go to a homeschool convention, walk into the vendor hall, and start buying curriculum on a whim. And, I did just that. I came home with most of the items on my wish list, but I also came home with items that weren’t on my list. Some of those items I never used.
I’ve learned a few things since then that have helped me save time and money when I attend homeschool conventions which is good since the Great Homeschool Convention comes to my home town each year!
Attending a Homeschool Convention
Plan ahead for the sessions you’d like to attend.
I’ve been to a few homeschool conventions over the past few years. Sometimes, I attend the workshops, and sometimes I don’t. I recommend giving them a try, though. I’ve been to workshops that taught about learning styles, balancing home and homeschool, weaving the Gospel into your every day homeschool, and more. They really renew my energy and passion for our homeschool journey.
This year, the Great Homeschool Convention has a great lineup of speakers! There are quite a few, I’m excited to hear. With workshops geared toward parenting, homeschooling, special needs, and more, there is something for everyone!
If your spouse will be attending with you, I suggest you divide and conquer the sessions. You go to one session while your spouse attends another. Regroup at lunch time, and compare notes.
This year, we will feature more than 230 speaking sessions, led by a world-class featured speaker roster which also includes a number of highly-focused special tracks. ~ GHC
Plan ahead for the vendor hall.
In the weeks leading up to the convention, I make out a curriculum plan for the upcoming year. I go subject by subject and child by child to be sure I haven’t missed anything. I make notes of any supplemental books and supplies I might need. If there is a workbook or teacher’s guide that I’m questioning, I make a note of that, as well. I love being able to put my hands on books in the vendor hall. Like I said before the homeschool convention comes to my hometown each year, but I’m sure others come to your hometowns too and it’s great especially if you are a would-be vendor. If you’re interested in being part of a convention, you might be interested in something like the Exhibit Design Company, so you can bring your innovations to us because, of course, the best part of a convention is the exhibits!
Before attending a homeschool convention, I always check out the list of exhibitors. If possible, I print out a map of the vendor hall. I highlight the booths that are must-see booths based on what I know we will be using in the upcoming year. I make note of any vendors that have piqued my interest but aren’t ‘for sures’ on my curriculum list. Oftentimes, I am able to make a decision after thumbing through a book or speaking to the people working the booth.
Having a plan before walking in the door helps keep me on track and saves me money in the end. I do far less impulse buying with a plan. Notice I said far less. There are still some really cool things to be found in the vendor hall, so I plan a little cushion in my budget so I can pick up a few ‘neat’ things like geodes, an interesting new book, or some new art supplies.
A huge exhibit hall will be available for you to explore all the best curriculum and homeschooling resources available under one roof. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes! Many of the curriculum authors will be present to answer your questions and help you decide which curriculum best fits your child’s learning style. There is no better way to make that all-important curriculum decision than to have “hands-on” access to every possible resource, right before your eyes. ~ GHC
Plan ahead for comfort.
Many times the hotel or convention center that hosts a homeschool convention is big. There will likely be a lot of walking from the entrance to the workshops and/or the vendor hall. The vendor hall itself can be pretty big, and it’s likely to be crowded. So, it’s a good idea to wear comfortable walking shoes.
If allowed, I like to bring a rolling cart. It makes it much easier to purchase heavy textbooks and boxed curriculum. Backpacks and tote bags can get heavy quick as you shop.
Jackets and sweaters are great for conference rooms. I’m not sure why, but I find them to be chillier than other rooms in the venues. So, I often carry a cardigan or zip-up hoodie with me so I can layer up if it’s chilly or take it off if it’s not.
Plan ahead for fun!
After spending all day listening to the speakers and shopping for curriculum, take some time to unwind and make memories with your family at the special events! Whether you listen to a motivational speaker or laugh with the comedians, you’re family will enjoy reconnecting at the end of the day.
Special events include musician Andrew Peterson, comedian Jeff Foxworthy, speaker Mike Berenstain (son of Jan and Stan Berenstain), and more!
Great Homeschool Conventions is ready for 2017!
We are giving away a family registration and up to four special event tickets to each special event offered at the convention you are attending.
A family registration covers you, your spouse, children/teens, and their grandparents to hear the workshops and shop the exhibit hall for all three days of the convention.
The 2017 dates and locations are:
- TEXAS Homeschool Convention, Fort Worth Convention Center, Fort Worth, TX – February 23-25, 2017
- SOUTHEAST Homeschool Convention, TD Convention Center, Greenville, SC, March 16-18, 2017
- MIDWEST Homeschool Convention, Duke Energy Convention Center, Cincinnati, OH, April 20 – 22, 2017
- CALIFORNIA Homeschool Convention, Ontario Convention Center, Ontario, CA, June 15 – 17, 2017
FREE Gifts to all that register:
As an additional benefit, those who register for the convention receive the following:
- A free Andrew Peterson album download (8 songs, a $7.99 value!)
- Free streaming access ($59 value) to all twelve episodes of “Ancient History” as well as “The Gospels” (episode 1) from our friends at DriveThru History. (Don’t wait though—the free access to these awesome history episodes is available only until October 1, 2017.)
- A free download of The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers e-book by Mike Berenstain (a $1.99 value) E-book offer is from the publisher, Zondervan.
- A free download of Focus on the Family audio recording: Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom ($9.99 value)
- A free download of Adventures in Odyssey episode of Amazing Grace ($1.99 value)
Great Homeschool Conventions is offering Embark on the Journey readers $10 off a special event ticket if you register by 12/5/2016! Click here and use code EOTJ-spec-2017 to claim your discount.