Top 10 Tips for Homeschool Conventions

Sonlight is having a monthly blog linkup this year, in honor of their 25th anniversary. May’s topic is to share your best homeschool convention tips and experiences.

Top 10 Tips for attending a homeschool conventionLet’s first get the disclaimer out of the way: I’ve never been to a homeschool convention. So why on earth do I think I have anything to say about attending one then? Because I’ve been to a lot of library conventions, and I think there’s enough overlap that some general points will apply to homeschool ones as well. And I also ran this post past a friend who has been to some homeschool conventions to see if I was completely off-base with my tips. She didn’t think so, so here are my top 10 tips for going to conventions, homeschool or otherwise. 🙂

  1. Go for comfort, especially with your shoes.
    Seems obvious, right? Big convention, large exhibit hall, presentations taking place all over the place – there can be a lot of walking. Every year I’d see people collapsed on a chair, rubbing their feet as they bemoaned their choice of footwear. Also, be aware that temperatures can vary – the middle of summer might still have an overly air-conditioned hall, or you might be in stuffy rooms, so wear layers.
  2. Know the rules.
    Are rolling bags allowed on the exhibit floor? They’re super handy, but not all conventions allow them. Same goes for strollers – sometimes they’re allowed, sometimes they’re not. You’ll want to know before you show up expecting to use one. Check the convention website – that’ll usually let you know what is and is not permitted.
  3. Carry some cash.
    Even if you don’t usually use it, you may need to now. Parking fees, vending machines – they may take cards, but they may not.
  4. Pack a snack and a drink.
    I always like having a granola bar or some almonds. Food options vary, and you may never need it, but having something small and not needing it is much nicer than desperately wishing you had something … anything … to quell the hunger pains. (But remember to make sure you’re following point #2 – some places don’t allow outside food or drink.)
  5. Figure out your goals.
    Which presentations will best meet your needs? Which vendors do you most want to see? Set priorities as to how you’re going to use your time, and have back up plans in case certain presentations are full or even cancelled.
  6. Divide and conquer.
    If you’re attending with a friend, can you split up and cover more ground? Especially if two presentations you’re interested in are taking place at the same time, see if you can each attend one and then swap notes later. If you’re on your own, find out if audio will be available after the convention. Maybe you don’t need to go to some of the presentations, if you can download the talk later. Remember though, if there’s one where you want to ask a question, go in person to that!
  7. Have space in your bag.
    I always left with tons of literature, and needed to plan ahead and have space in my luggage.
  8. Think ahead for what you might want to buy.
    Are any publishers running convention specials? Are they good enough to be worth buying on site? And compare online prices – is that special convention price really special?
  9. Bring address labels.
    Library convention exhibit halls had tons of giveaways, and they usually involved dropping a business card in a container, or filling out a entry slip. Leaving a card was much quicker, and saved writing my info multiple times. I saw others slapping address labels on those slips, so even without a business card they still avoided having to write their info again and again.
  10. For all the introverts out there – plan some downtime.
    It helps to not be overwhelmed by everything and ALL THE PEOPLE.

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Comments

  1. You’re right. That’s good advice for any kind of convention. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yup! Agreeing with Karla! Great tips for any convention!

  3. I love this list. As an introvert, I’ve just skipped the convention so far. Any other introvert specific tips?

    • What would/did help me the most is having some time to myself each day. Breakfast alone or maybe a snack break in the middle of the afternoon. Even just going to a big session and sitting by myself and arriving early to then spend some time reading a book and NOT making eye contact with others or meeting people. Sounds anti-social, but it helps me be social later.

      I’d also be aware of what it’s going to be like once you get home. After a big event with lots of PEOPLE, I want to come home and hide for a bit. No going out with friends, no events for a day or two (or three…). That would be harder with kids, so if you can arrange for a sitter or someone to watch them for a bit after your return it might make for a smoother transition home.

      I’ve had two weekends away from my kids, both of which involved a lot of talking/socializing. Good talking and socializing, but still. A lot for this introvert. The first time I came home and my kids were just attached to me instantly once I arrived home. The second time grandma was visiting and had been there while I was gone, and the kids were happy to see me, but they didn’t NEED ME the same way. That was a much easier return. I got to unpack in peace, and have some quiet time at home.

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