Thursday, April 7, 2011

Attending the Local Homeschool Conference: Why and How

Why should you attend your local homeschool conference?
1.  For information
2.  For inspiration
3.  To recharge
4.  To plan and buy for the next school year

What to bring:
1.  A friend (one who has been before, if it's your first time OR just because you want to)
1.  OR your hubby, and/or kids...  I've heard a homeschool conference makes a great weekend getaway (not joking!... this is from veteran homeschool moms).
2.  Backpack, messenger bag, or "cart"  (this includes rolling suitcases... tried that last year and it worked awesome!)
3.  Lunch, or lunch money (but I don't not advise going out to eat and leaving the site... I've tried it both ways), snack and water bottle
4.  Planner, clipboard, and/or notebook for taking notes
5.  A list of what you want to buy, how much you want to spend, and be sure to allot some money for "goodies" or surprises.  If you can, make a price list ahead of time so that you can compare and make sure you're getting a good deal.  This is also a good time for those of you cool people who have phones like my hubby with technology to check prices online by scanning the bar code.
--My advice here is to only things on you list, besides that allotted for "goodies".  Be especially conservative the first day (if you're going both days).  This way, if you find something you think you want, you can go home and compare prices online before deciding if you really want/need the "impulse" purchase.
6.  Sweater or long-sleeved shirt for differences in temperature from rooms, etc. (this is especially important for someone who runs cold like me). One year one of the workshops was outside in a tent, on a cold morning, after raining!
7. Another cool item to take (if you have room in your bag) is a small folding footstool.  It's great in a workshop to prop up your legs for taking notes!

What to expect/What you will receive:
1.  Lots of vendors-this may be overwhelming for a 1st timer
2.  Lots of workshops to inform, inspire and recharge
  --the ability to buy recorded workshops on cd
3.  Bag at the front door with freebies, discount coupons, etc.
4.  At booths:  discounts, free shipping, contests, time to look before you buy and ask questions

Things to do ahead of time:
1.  Pack a meal (or meals), snack and water bottles
2.  Plan a comfortable outfit with comfortable walking shoes
3.  Review catalogs and online for what you want to check out at the vendors and those curriculum presenters that will be doing workshops
4.  Print the conference schedule of workshops and highlight the classes you want to attend
5.  Pray for God to lead you and give you direction
6.  Decide who will be coming with you.  For our local conference, children 13 and older can attend workshops... younger children can join the children's program for ages 5-12 (but this is an extra expense). Nursing babies are allowed in workshops, others need a sitter... which could mean Dad takes the day off from work  (what my hubby has done for the past 4 years... and this year), or you hire someone, or maybe grandparents, or older children can watch the younger ones.
7.  Plan meals and get chores done ahead of time

A few of these ideas are added from a veteran homeschool mom and friend, Beth.  Though most are from my notes on the talk that Beth and I were supposed to give at the March 2009 meeting at a local homeschool support group.  I got sick, so Beth had to give it by herself.

Another veteran homeschool mom and friend recently asked me about an e-mail I'd sent out a while back about not being overwhelmed... I couldn't find it and share a couple of other articles with her, but I'd been meaning to write a post like this for a couple of years, so short and simple this is, but I finally got it on here.

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