The school year is coming to a close for most of us, and that means it’s time to buy books for next year. Many states will offer curriculum fairs and/or homeschool conventions where you can look at products in person as well as attend training sessions on a wide variety of homeschooling topics. It can be like a small retreat if you enter prepared, but it can also get overwhelming and cost more money than you intended to spend if you’re not careful.
Here is just a quick list of things to consider if you’re headed to a homeschool convention soon.
Planning your trip:
1. Take some time to carefully consider your goals for each of your children. This can include academic, spiritual, and physical goals. Determine if there is anything you need to buy in order to help them reach those goals.
2. Think about each child’s personal gifts and interests. What topics/subjects can you include that will capture their attention? Remember that there is no way you can teach everything there is to know. By considering your child’s individual design, you will be offering them a tailor made education, one that will teach them to learn and to enjoy learning.
*These two points will help you determine what to teach, while number three will help you decide how to teach it. (or what to buy in order to teach it.)
3. Consider you child’s learning style. What materials can you use to teach in a way they can thrive?
4. Get a vendor list before going. It can be overwhelming when you walk into a convention full of publishers with so many wonderful things to sell. Having a list and knowing which booths are the most important for you to visit will keep you on track. Visit your priority booths first and then come back to the others that catch your eye. This will keep your schedule on track as well as your budget. No more getting to the math table only to find you’ve spent all of your money on fun supplements!
5. Go to the websites of the vendors you plan to visit.
- Write down each product that you’d like to look at
- Write any questions about the product or features you want to look at. This is important because it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget the details of what you wanted to look into.
- Check to see if they mention a discount for convention attendees, if so, you will want to be prepared to buy at the convention if you decide this is the product you want.
- Write the prices for online ordering. If you can’t buy all of your needed books at once, this will help you determine if it’s best to buy at the convention or if it’s okay to wait.
6. Take a look at the speaker sessions offered. Most likely you will have several sessions to choose from in each time slot. It will be helpful to have those decisions made before you go.
1.Go with only the money you have predetermined to spend. There will be lots of great educational stuff there, stuff you might think will be the answer to all of your homeschooling needs. You can spend a lot of money if you don’t have some sort of boundary set for yourself.
2. Take some type of bag or basket with wheels. Books are heavy. The last thing you want to do is to set a book down that you just purchased so you can look at the next thing, and forget it and walk away. “Everyone” has something on wheels, so you won’t be conspicuous!
3. Keep a notebook with you. Write the vendor’s answers to your questions and keep notes as you learn more about each product. You may want to make a first trip around just looking and taking notes. Then, after you’ve seen everything you want to see, look at you notes and then go back and buy the things you’ve decided on.
4. If you go with a friend:
- Do not let her buying decisions influence yours (Don’t be afraid to buy what you need or obligated to buy what she likes.)
- Don’t be afraid to go your own way, choosing a time and place to meet up again.
- Try to stay focused on the convention instead of visiting.
- If she is overwhelmed, help her to focus on her top priorities and to stay within her budget
5. Bring a snack if it’s allowed, and wear comfortable shoes
6. Try your best not to bring young children. (The only thing you’ll buy is the book entitled “How to sell you kids on eBay)
7. Have fun! and remember that homeschooling is a lifestyle of education, and the books are only part of it.
*These are just a few tips. If you’d like more information on the topics mentioned here, including more on navigating conventions, finding your child’s learning style, and choosing a method of education, sign up for my mailing list. (in the box to your upper right, where it says “stay connected”) I’m working on some products and I’ll send updates as they come available. You’ll also get the free book mentioned, and updates whenever I have new articles posted.
Enjoy the convention and have a great summer!