Or perhaps, you are stuck in a spring-time slump and have "grow(n) weary in well-doing." Maybe you need a few encouraging thoughts to help bolster your home schooling efforts.
Whichever camp you currently find yourself in, be strengthened by the thought that Homeschool Convention "season" is just around the corner. And with it comes the perfect opportunity to gather with other folks of like-mind and share in the cheers and jeers of the journey you were called to when you embarked upon Homeschooling.
Whether you are new to homeschooling or are a seasoned veteran, attending an annual Homeschooling Convention always brings substantial benefits. But, before you register and pack your bags, here are a few helpful hints to keep in mind...
If possible, come with a skeletal plan of what curriculum you might be interested in purchasing.(If this is your first year homeschooling or you are just in "prayerful consideration" mode, just disregard this suggestion altogether. I encourage you, folks, to attend, but leave your wallets at home. This will prevent you from buying many unnecessary items that you may/may not ever end up using.) A convention center filled with eager/convincing vendors can be quite overwhelming to anyone, especially someone who does not necessarily have a basic, working idea of what they are and are not looking for. I always come with a skeletal plan of what vendors I know I NEED to visit and which items I am considering for purchase. Not that I always stick to my plan like glue...I consider it very FLUID...and allow myself to have a change of heart. But, by having a basic plan, I do not get lured into buying "wants" as easily, and therefor stay closer to my pre-determined budget.
Take advantage of the helpfulness offered by the vendors, themselves.Before you spend hours looking at book after book searching for one particular title, ask the friendly vendor if and where they have that item. Most vendors are more than willing to lend a hand and are fully aware of their current stock.
Don't be afraid to skip a conference session.(Again, if this is your first year homeschooling, please disregard that statement. Attend as many sessions as you can. You will need the wisdom behind these seasoned speakers to help secure a successful first year.) Most conventions offer CD recordings of conference sessions for a nominal fee. If you find yourself still searching the vendor tables well after a session break has ended, don't feel rushed to get to the next speaker. Take your time looking at all the booths in the exhibit hall knowing that this may be your only chance all year to physically hold an item in your hand. An on-line picture and review is helpful, but nothing helps solidify a curriculum decision quite like actually being able to peruse the ACTUAL curriculum. In addition, many vendors offer free shipping if an item is purchased at the conference.
Take advantage of any used curriculum vendors.Most exhibit halls offer a small section of used vendor booths. Not only can you find classic out-of-print books at these tables, you can also snag some amazing deals on current curriculum items. Keep in mind, however, that the condition of an item is paramount over savings. I understand that most homeschoolers are functioning on a one-income budget in a VERY two-income world. So, it is often easy to want to get as much BANG for your BUCK as possible. But remember not to sacrifice QUALITY for QUANTITY.
If you are attempting to purchase an item that will be used for multiple students over the course of time, consider passing on a used, but very inexpensive, item that has already "been around the block." For core pieces such as hardback student text, I recommend buying new. More often than not, a well-worn used book will need to be replaced for up-coming students and will end up costing more in the long run. Apart from a few core pieces, however, I ALWAYS opt for used...and so does my wallet! (As a quick side note, whether you are purchasing from a New or a Used vendor, always remember to ask for a receipt. Most states offer tax credits or deductions for educational purposes. But, purchases have to be proven with a paper trail.)
Be physically prepared for a rigorous day.Although I eagerly await the annual Homeschooling convention each year, I also prepare myself for both a mentally and physically draining day(s). There is a lot to do, see, and learn at a conference. By taking heed to pack accordingly, you will save yourself from wasted time and energy. It goes without saying, but...wear comfy shoes. Perusing the exhibit hall numerous times and jaunting from one end of a convention center to the other to catch a great conference speaker will be quite a physical work out. Pay heed to the convention center regulations. Many will not allow small children and most prohibit wheeled strollers/bags. Pack snacks and water to avoid paying the high price at vending machines. If possible, bring cash. Although most NEW vendors take credit card, many USED vendors prefer the convenience of cash.
Utilize the coat check option. Many convention centers offer a "coat check" for a small fee. Although that option is quite helpful for those of us in snow country, it is not limited to just coats. Many of these coat check locations are also willing to store any HEAVY curriculum items that you have purchased throughout the day. There's no use breaking your back carrying all your good deals, if you can store them until the end of the day for only a few dollars.
Don't forget to "pack" your greatest homeschooling asset...your spouse!Although the hubs does not necessarily do any of the day-to-day teaching, his helpful opinions and support are essential to a successful homeschooling experience. As an added bonus, bringing the hubs ensures a set of strong muscles for carrying all those great deals and provides a guaranteed "date" after a long day of conference happenings.
Do you have any thoughts to add? What efforts do you take to ensure a successful homeschool convention trip?