In our 10 years of homeschooling, I have attended many different conferences in many different states. However, as a brand new homeschooler, I didn’t know what to expect from these conferences and was blown away when I got there.
To help spare you a bit of the shock I received, I’ve compiled some thoughts on what you can expect at a typical homeschool conference.
1. A vendor’s hall – This is a large open room with lots of booths full of curriculum. It can be absolutely overwhelming! Read my post on Surviving The Vendor’s Hall for more help on navigating the vendor’s hall. Also, be aware that many homeschool conventions will let you go to just the vendor’s hall and not the speaker sessions for a discounted rate.
2. A children’s program – Many homeschool conventions have their own on-site children’s program. Typically, for children ages 12 and under, this program often includes Bible memory and stories and songs. At Teach Them Diligently, Ken Ham is making a guest appearance to talk to the children about dinosaurs! Two things to keep in mind about these programs…rarely are they for children under 5 and the parent is usually responsible for meals. Most conferences I’ve been to allow children over 12 to come to the sessions with their parents. This is also helpful if you need a Mother’s Helper for a nursing infant.
3. Something for new homeschoolers – Sometimes there is a one-day workshop prior to the convention, sometimes you will find a New Homeschoolers track during the convention itself filled with great sessions on getting started. The Midwest Parent Educators Homeschool Conference in Kansas City gives free admission to parents of preschoolers considering homeschooling!
4. A packed schedule – Because there is something for every homeschooler at a conference, the schedule has to be chock full, often to the point where time must be carved out to eat and shop the vendor’s hall. In the past several years, we have found it to be beneficial to choose a time slot to shop and then buy the CD of the session we missed during that time slot. If you do not do this, you simply will not have enough time to shop or eat! (Most conventions have a recording company record all the sessions and you can buy them for around $6 each. You can also buy an entire set of convention CD’s!)
5. Dynamic speakers – The homeschool world is full of encouraging speakers who share their many gifts during conventions in order to challenge us and bring us closer to the Lord. Which brings me to the number one thing you should expect from a homeschool convention…
6. Refreshment and renewal – Although you may feel as though you are drinking from a fire hydrant during a homeschool convention, you will end up soaking it all up and feeling refreshed and renewed for the upcoming homeschool year!
I have said this many, many times, but I truly believe attending a homeschool convention should be a top priority for any homeschooling family. Where will you go this year?