Top Tips to Maximize Your Experience at Homeschool Conventions

By: Beverly Matoney | The Homeschoool Copywriter

Homeschooling has become a popular choice for parents seeking an alternative approach to education. However, the vast array of curriculum options and the challenges of planning the school year can be overwhelming.

That’s where the homeschool conventions come in!

Let’s explore how to make the most out of attending a homeschool convention from preparation to post-convention tips.

Which Homeschool Convention? There are So Many!

With numerous in-person conventions sponsored by states, organizations, and associations, choosing the right one can be a challenge. If you’re new to home education, we suggest you start with a general homeschool convention.

Search online for conventions in your state or ask other homeschool parents for recommendations. State conventions often provide vital information about local homeschooling laws, ensuring you stay informed and compliant.

You may notice plenty of online conventions in your search, but we encourage you to attend in person if you are able.

Why Go in Person?

While online conventions offer convenience and access to various curriculum choices, they often lack the personal interaction and dynamic experience of in-person events.

Attending a homeschool convention in person allows you to engage with vendors, ask questions, sample products, experience services, and gain beneficial insights.

You can also network with other homeschooling parents, make new friends, and even explore the possibility of bartering with other families for the exchange of valuable skills and knowledge.

Plus, attending a convention gives you a much-needed break from the chaos of daily life, allowing you to focus on planning your school year without distractions. Consider it a mini vacation filled with new adventures!

A Fan Favorite: Vendor Halls

One of the highlights of homeschool conventions is the vendor hall. Here homeschooling suppliers and experts showcase their curricula, resources, materials, and services. Face-to-face interaction with vendors enables you to gain a better understanding of their wares and how they can serve you and your students.

The vendor halls also offer an excellent opportunity to discover new curriculum options, compare similar offerings, take advantage of discounts, and gather free information and samples.

I’ve Decided to Go to a Homeschool Convention! What Do I Do Now?

Once you’ve made the decision to attend a homeschool convention, you’ll need to consider and prepare for a few things.

Plan, Plan, Plan

You’ll have a better experience if you spend some time researching and planning your convention visit.

  • Figure out the costs associated including travel, lodging if necessary, and food expenses. It’s essential to weigh your options and find ways to cut costs without compromising the value of the experience.
  • Consider carpooling with friends, exploring nearby accommodations, or utilizing short-term rental platforms to find a place to stay with kitchen facilities.
  • Familiarize yourself with the convention program. Check out the keynote speakers and breakout sessions to identify the ones that align with your interests and educational goals.
  • Create a schedule for each day, considering the sessions you want to attend and the vendors you wish to visit. Prioritize your schedule and be prepared to make adjustments along the way.

Should I Bring My Children?

Your kids can learn a lot at a homeschool convention! When bringing children, explore the programs and activities designed for them. Some conventions offer specialized age-specific programs which allow your children to engage and learn while you attend sessions or explore the vendor hall.

It’s essential to consider the needs of children with special requirements and ensure that the convention can accommodate them. Call ahead if needed.

Make the most of your convention experience by networking with other parents. Engage in conversations with those around you and exchange valuable insights and experiences.

Working the Convention With Purpose

Remember to tackle the vendor hall strategically, making a first round to explore the booths and gather information, then retracing your steps to make purchases or ask follow-up questions.

Take advantage of vendor seminars and explore more than just curricula, as many exhibitors offer additional resources and materials. Collect vendor hall goodies and put exclusive convention discounts to good use.

Purchasing at the Convention

Homeschool conventions provide an excellent opportunity to make purchases, as many sellers offer special discounts and deals during the event. However, it’s crucial to approach your buying spree with a strategic mindset.

Set a budget and prioritize your needs. You can get carried away with all the shiny new things on display. Use those convention discounts, and don’t be afraid to ask for unadvertised specials.

Consider the weight and practicality of the items you plan to purchase, especially if you choose to carry them back home in lieu of having them shipped.

Be mindful while you shop. Focus on acquiring materials that will greatly enhance your homeschooling journey.

Learning at the Convention

Attending workshops and breakout sessions is a priceless aspect of homeschool conventions. Sure, you may not resonate with every speaker or session, but those who do fit your criteria are a wealth of information and genuine helpful advice.

Feel free to switch sessions if you find that a particular one isn’t meeting your expectations. And if sessions overlap, consider purchasing convention recordings which are also offered for sale so you can revisit presentations or listen to any you missed when you get home.

When You Get Home

After the convention, take some time to reflect on your experience and integrate what you’ve learned into your homeschooling journey. Review the notes you took during the sessions, revisit the resources you gathered, and incorporate new ideas and approaches into your curriculum planning.

Visit the websites of the vendors you met and read any additional material offered there. Sign up for email newsletters and follow them on social media to stay informed of curriculum updates or special discounts on future purchases.

Share your experiences with fellow homeschooling parents, whether through social media, local homeschooling groups, or online forums. By sharing and discussing your convention experience, you can continue to learn and grow as a homeschooling community.

You Did It!

Attending a homeschool convention can be a game-changer for your homeschooling journey. The event offers a unique opportunity to explore curriculum options, connect with vendors and other homeschooling families, and gain valuable insights and inspiration.

Whether you attend an in-person convention or participate in an online event, you’ll benefit from thorough preparation, strategic planning, and active engagement.

Which convention will you attend this year?

Convention Notes for Optima Academy Online

Want to experience virtual reality classrooms for yourself?

Find us at the Florida Parent Educators Association 2024 Homeschool Convention!

When: Thursday, May 23 through Saturday, May 25

Where: Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

6000 W Osceola Pkwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746

We can’t wait to show you the world of VR education!

About the Author: Beverly Matoney

Beverly Matoney is a wife, mother to two wonderful adult children, and writer living in northeast Georgia. She began her career in sales and marketing, but eventually opted for the stay-at-home life. When her oldest child was three, she and her husband decided homeschool was the best path for their family. That was way back in the early 90s when homeschool was just beginning to gain steam as an education alternative. But what an adventure it was!

Fast forward 20+ years, and their children have grown, graduated from homeschool, gone to college, and started their own lives. What’s a former home educator to do? She follows another dream she had of being a writer.