Me at my first homeschool conference: “Speakers, and vendors, and curriculum, oh my!”
Your first homeschool conference can be as overwhelming as it is encouraging. Especially if you come unprepared. Take heart. I’m not going to leave you on your own to get ready. I’m also not going to let you miss out on an amazing weekend because you’re afraid it will be too much. Remember, we are FEARLESS, moms! So, go register, pray for wisdom and peace, and then follow these 3 tips.
- Be prepared
- Take breaks
- Bring wheels
Back when I was in college (more years ago than I would care to admit) I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Everyone on my team made fun of me for over-packing. They kept saying that I had brought WAAAYYYYY too much stuff. Wouldn’t you know, every last one of them had to come ask me for something at some point! You see, I think I must secretly be part Boy Scout. My motto is definitely “be prepared”! Sure, it may just be the control freak in me coming out, but my preparations sure have come in handy many times. There are a few specific ways you can prepare.
Make A Budget
Like I said in my math curriculum review, most homeschoolers don’t have bucketloads of extra money sitting around. We have to sacrifice to make this life work. That means we have to stick to a budget! Make a budget ahead of time. Be realistic about what you can afford. Be sure to take into account ALL possible expenses for the conference. That includes registration, parking, travel, exhibit hall, used curriculum sale, snacks, coffee, etc. Whatever your budget, there are ways to make it work if you plan ahead. If you need some tips on attending a homeschool conference on a tight budget, just send me a message!
Check Out the Vendors
Exhibit halls can be big and overwhelming. My first time it felt like I was just running around like a chicken with my head cut off! I didn’t see half the vendors, yet I was exhausted and spent tons of time in there. I learned you have to be strategic. Check out the list of vendors BEFORE you go to the conference. Which ones seem most appealing to you? Who has things you know you’ll need for next year? Make a list of the vendors that interest you most and visit them FIRST! If you’re joining me at the OCEANetwork Homeschool Conference, here is the list of vendors to preview. I already have my list building of who I want to see.
You are going to be tempted to do ALL THE THINGS at your first homeschool conference. Go to ALL the sessions. Have long conversations with ALL the vendors. Meet ALL the people. Don’t do it. Just don’t! You NEED to take breaks. Trust me. Don’t repeat my mistakes.
You don’t have to attend every session. Consider the season you are in. If your oldest child is starting kindergarten this year, you don’t need to attend that session on planning for high school just yet. Take a break during that workshop. Sit and rest. Let your brain processes everything you have learned. It helps to prevent information overload. Talk to some other homeschoolers as they also sit and take a load off. Remember, connecting with like-minded families is just as important as attending workshops!
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT make the same mistake I did at my first homeschool conference! By the end of the first day I was quite a sight to see. My arms were tired and weak, shaking like a bowl full of jello. I had marks where my plastic shopping bags were digging into my skin. I din’t stop to think about all the things I would be carrying around. You’ll be stocking up on discount curriculum in the used curriculum sales, picking up tools in the exhibit halls, and getting helpful handouts from speakers. All of these things can really start to weigh your arms down! Be smart from the start (unlike me). Bring something with wheels! I personally use a small, open-top rolling cart. Many others bring a carry-on-sized rolling suitcase. Whichever you choose, just be sure to bring wheels.
You Won’t Regret A Homeschool Conference
I get it, ladies. You’re a bit nervous about taking the leap to attend your first homeschool conference. I was equal parts excited and nervous our first time. Was I going to find helpful people and messages, or was I going to spend the weekend being reminded of all the ways I was doing everything wrong? Could we really make this work? What I found was a weekend filled with kind, encouraging people, and a whole lot of information overload and exhaustion. I was NOT prepared! You don’t have to suffer my fate. If you follow my 3 simple tips, you’ll get all the refreshment without any of the overwhelm!