10 Tips for New Homeschoolers Attending a Homeschool Convention

It’s homeschool convention time, aka homeschool Black Friday!

All around the country homeschool conventions are popping up full of the newest curriculum and educational resources available.  Most have tons of classes and speakers, and they can be a great place to begin when you are starting your homeschool journey.  However, thousands of square feet of convention hall full of hundreds of publishers can also be incredibly overwhelming.  So I thought I’d share my 10 tips for new homeschoolers attending their first homeschool convention.

homeschool convention tips Homeschool Convention Top Ten Tips:

  1. Do a little research before you go. My biggest piece of advice is to get a general idea of what you think you are looking for in a curriculum, and then mark those booths that seem to be what you want.  You can even make a homeschool convention board on Pinterest to keep track of what you want to see. Start with these booths so that you’ll be sure to have enough time to see everything they have to offer.  Then decide what you like and dislike about the curriculum before exploring other booths.
  2. Keep an open mind. Once you’ve done your research, seen your top contenders, and determined what you like and don’t like about them, it’s time to branch out.  There’s usually one subject where I don’t feel strongly about any particular publisher.  If you feel that way too, then start there.  Go around to other booths that offer curriculum in that subject and do the same evaluation you did in #1.  If you keep an open mind, you might find that what you thought you wanted isn’t really what you end up getting.  I’ve found some great curriculum this way over the years.
  3. Attend classes. Most likely there will be classes at the homeschool convention for new homeschoolers, and these can be an invaluable source of information and encouragement.  Take notes so that you can reflect when you get home on all that you saw and heard.  Often publishers will also hold classes, and attending these can give you a better insight into that curriculum and whether or not it will work for your family.
  4. Set a budget for ‘extras.’ I know you think you will be able to resist all the cool offerings of educational resources and stick to just the books you need , but trust me, you’re going to find something that will just really get your kids interested in what you’re teaching, or be super fun, or make your life way easier.  Set a budget before you go for the little extras that you are going to find so that you can indulge but not break the bank.
  5. You can’t teach it all. While I’m sure there’s a homeschool family somewhere that has their kindergartener reading the New Testament in the original Greek while they decline their Latin and build robots for an MIT science competition, if you’re not that family it’s okay.  There is far more available than you will ever be able to teach.  Remember what your goals are for your homeschool, and resist the urge to try and do it all.  Do what’s right for your child and your family for this year.
  6. Focus on this year. I always like to get an idea while I’m at a homeschool convention of what I might want to teach in the future, but sometimes it’s hard to focus on the here and now.  Know what subjects you want to teach before you go, and try to limit yourself to those areas.  Keep a list in your convention brochure to keep you on task.
  7. Go more than one day. If it’s at all financially feasible, attend the convention for at least 2 days.  It’s almost impossible to go to all the classes and see all the booths you want in just 1 day, and that can also lead to impulse buying.  If you’re able to go for 2 days, spend the first gathering information, and then when you get back to the hotel go over it again.
  8. Don’t buy anything on day 1. If you are able to go for more than a day, your wallet will thank you for waiting until the 2nd day before buying anything.  Mark your convention program with the booths you want to purchase from and how much the items are.  This gives you time to get some perspective and add up the costs of what you think you want.  That way on day 2 you can go straight to the booth and make your purchases, giving you a better chance of sticking to your budget.
  9. Collect cards and flyers for later. If you see a really great booth that has something you know you might want later or for another school year, grab a card and a flyer to bring home.  You can keep these in a file so that when you go to plan the next school year you have them.  My favorite thing to do is to look up the websites when I get home and pin them to my Pinterest boards.  Then I can access them whenever I need them and they can stay organized by subject.
  10. Breathe. There’s a lot of good stuff out there.  You’ll never be able to teach it all.  Don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged by that.  You are going to do amazing, and curriculum is just a tool to help you explore God’s creation.  There’s no need to worry about what others are doing – they don’t have your kids or your circumstances.  Take a deep breath and enjoy this remarkable journey of educating your kids.  It’s gonna be alright!