Homeschool conferences can be overwhelming, but also incredibly informative. I recently attended a homeschool conference and here’s what I learned.
1. Bring a friend and a notebook.
Many of the workshops you would like to attend may be scheduled at the same time. Split up the workshops with a friend, and divide and conquer. Take notes during the workshops. It will be impossible to remember everything you heard and learned. A notebook will help jog your memory when you’ve had time to decompress from all you learned. At the end of the day, compare notes with your friend and share information. You will gain twice as much confidence and information with a friend.
2. Take as much information as you can in the vendor hall.
Vendors have material available because they want you to become informed, and want your business. Even if you think you are not interested in what a vendor has to offer, check out their product, and take their promotional material. Once home, it’s easier to digest all the information over a cup of coffee and some quiet time. You may just be inspired by something you didn’t know you needed or wanted!
3. Make a game plan.
Vendor halls and workshops can be overwhelming, especially at larger conventions or conferences. Be sure to check out the schedule and make a game plan on what you need. Ask the staff at the registration table for any updates to the schedule. Speakers and workshops schedules sometimes get moved because of attendance numbers, or other factors. You don’t want to miss your favorite workshop, so be sure to inquire. If the registration desk has a map of the vendor hall, review it before entering. Also make note of where the restrooms are located and local restaurants or the food court. Staying nourished and hydrated is important.
4. Ask to lock in sales prices.
If you can’t purchase now, ask the vendor if they can lock in the sales price that is offered at the conference. Most vendors will offer an extended sales price during the conference and for a week or so after the conference.
5. Check with speakers or workshop hosts to see if there is a webinar or audio version of the workshop that you can get free or purchase.
There is so much information to take in, that being able to listen to keynote speakers again, may be a benefit in your homeschooling.
Grab lunch with a friend and decompress from the convention noise and overwhelm. Sitting outside for a while can help you regain some clarity, and give you energy to tackle the next workshop or vendor hall. Wear comfortable shoes.
7. Bring bags.
Most conference will offer a reusable bag as part of the vendor hall experience, but purchases, flyers, and PR material can quickly fill up your bags. Better yet, check to see if a rolling cart is allowed into the conference. It will save your back and arms from all the weight of that newly acquired material.
8. Meet and greet.
Introduce yourself to others. Tell your homeschooling story. Ask about theirs. Conferences and conventions are prime real estate for making connections in the homeschool world. Find your common ground, stay connected through social media or other methods, and build your homeschooling network.
9. Thank the coordinators of the event.
So much behind the scenes planning takes place to make homeschool conferences a success. Give helpful suggestions, rather than complaints. Volunteer to help if you can. Even a few hours attending the registration desk is a help to all.
10. Ask questions.
Contact the speakers and vendors if you still have questions about their workshop or product. They will welcome your inquiry for more information.
11. Decide if you will bring children.
Some conferences are child friendly with lots of scheduled kid activities, and others are more geared toward an adult day. Conferences may or may not offer child care or kid activities, so be sure to inquire. Vendor halls can be a long day for children who have no interest in looking at curriculum. Plan accordingly.
12. Plan time for sightseeing.
If you are traveling to a conference be sure to check out the local sites. Homeschoolers never stop learning, and this is a great opportunity to explore the world.
13. Set your budget.
Vendor halls and that shiny new curriculum or online curriculum, can be very tempting to purchase. Be sure you research thoroughly and stick to your budget.
Homeschool conventions are a perfect opportunity to make connections and have all your homeschooling questions answered. Do your research before the convention both on workshops you want to attend, and speakers that you want to hear. When you are in need of a homeschool reboot, a convention can be just the thing to inspire and refresh your world.