Great Homeschool Conventions has sponsored this post. I am compensated for our partnership. All opinions expressed are my own.
Although I have been homeschooling for almost 7 years, I attended my very first homeschool convention only a few years ago! I remember being SO excited about attending and it definitely lived up to every single expectation I had! It was…awesome! I left feeling encouraged, empowered, and inspired! However…
…As much as I LOVED attending my first convention, there are a few things that I wish I would have done differently! So, if you are planning on attending your very first homeschool convention, be sure to take note of my First Timer Tips so that you can avoid some of the mistakes that I made!
Set a Budget
What I did: In my excitement, I ended up making a few impulse purchases…well, more than a few! I was like a kid in a candy store!!! Honestly, I came home with a bit of buyers remorse, because I had realized that I spent way too much money on products that I probably shouldn’t have purchased. To this day, there are still some materials that I purchased at my first convention that we have yet to use!
What I should have done: I should have set a budget! If you are married, I suggest that you and your spouse discuss your homeschool needs and create a workable budget…and stick to it!
What I did: Over the years, I have acquired a lot of homeschool materials, books, manipulatives, curricula, etc. As I strolled through the vendor hall, I saw all kinds of wonderful resources that I just knew would be great for my kids! But, since I already own a lot of resources, I found myself constantly calling my husband and asking him to check to see if we have this…or that! I wasted quite a bit of time simply trying to figure out what we needed and did not need.
What I should have done: I should have gone through my homeschool materials and made a list of what I needed. Simply taking inventory of what we already had would have helped me to avoid making purchases and later realizing that I already had duplicates of the very same item! It would have also helped me avoid coming home and wishing that I would have purchased something that I actually needed, but forgot about.
Make a Plan
What I did: I simply showed up at the convention, ready for the fun to begin! I knew there were a few speakers that I definitely wanted to hear, but I didn’t have a game plan. I ended up missing out on a few speakers that I wish I could have heard because I didn’t take time to research the speakers/topics and I failed to make a definitive plan.
What I should have done: Rather than just showing up, I should have printed out the speaker/workshop schedule, compared time slots (and location) and mapped out where I would be and what I would attend.
Ask Lots of Questions
What I did: On the first day and a half of the convention, I simply strolled through the vendor hall, minding my own business, browsing at all the goodies, listening to the speakers…not saying a word to anyone (except other local homeschool parents that I ran into). It wasn’t until the last day and a half of the convention that I moved beyond “minding my own business.” In my browsing and buying, I started asking questions…lots of questions. Not only did I speak to the vendors, but I also chatted it up some of the speakers!
What I should have done: I gained a wealth of knowledge just in having my questions answered…I only wish that I would have started out day one asking questions rather than trying to squeeze all my questions in on the last day! So, ask questions…ask them early…and ask lots of them!
What I did: Since it was my first time, I was a bit unsure about what to wear. Now, I am not one to dress up if I don’t have to! I am most comfortable in jeans and sneakers. But, I didn’t know what to expect, so I wore a pair of nice slacks and dressy shoes…MISTAKE! My feet were so sore!
What I should have done: After the first day, I learned my lesson! I wore nice comfy clothing and shoes the next day! Though, I wish I would have brought a sweater, as it got chilly in some of the rooms/halls.
Save Your Back
What I did: I showed up with just my purse and a notebook.
What I should have done: The notebook was a great idea for jotting down all of the valuable information and knowledge I gained, but what I really wish I would have thought to bring was a rolling cart. Once I started making all of my impulse and duplicate purchases, my back was aching from carrying around all of my finds. A rolling cart would have REALLY come in handy!
Bring Snacks & Water
What I did: Like I said, I showed up with just my purse and a notebook. Being the frugal person that I am, I was reluctant to pay for snacks…and I got hungry!
What I should have done: I should have brought some snacks to nibble on and some bottled water to drink. It would have all fit nicely in the rolling cart that I should have brought!
These are just a few of the many tips and reasons for attending a homeschool convention. I am sure that you veteran homeschool convention attendees have more tips to add! Leave a comment and share your tips for first timers!