Once a year my husband and family give me a gift that I treasure. It is the gift of time away to attend a homeschooling convention. Some years it has been just spending the day at one closer to home. Last year I attended the Midwest Homeschooling Convention a few hours from home. I went with my sister; we stayed overnight, attending Friday and Saturday at the convention. My mother took time off work to watch her then 9 grandchildren (mine and my sister’s children) on Friday until my husband could be home from work. This year my sister lives across the country and will attend a local convention, but I’m still here and I’m heading back to the Midwest Homeschool Convention in 31 days! My mom may even be coming with me this time.
I see attending a homeschooling convention as a part of my continuing education as a homeschooling mother. I spend two days immersed in workshops on every topic imaginable, with more than 100 to choose from. I peruse the vendor hall to get my hands on curricula that I just need to see and touch before I can make a final decision about purchasing or not. I meet with other homeschoolers I have come to know through blogging and my time on the TOS Homeschool Crew.
I wanted to share a few tips on preparing to attend a homeschooling convention. Today I’m talking about physical preparation. The most important physical preparations to me are:
- Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Light layers are a wise choice because each room in a convention may be hot, cool, or very cold depending on the heating/cooling system. Tennis shoes are a must for all the walking I’ll be doing in the vendor hall.
- Bring snacks in a cooler or make other arrangements. All the conventions I’ve attended ask you not to bring food onsite, so I plan for purchasing meals at the convention or nearby. However, I also pack snacks and leave them in a cooler in my car or hotel room. When I need to unload an armload of purchases or simply need to retreat to my car for some quiet I can grab a quick snack.
- Bring a backpack, tote, or rolling cart. If you plan on making purchases bring something along to carry them. I’ll be using a backpack. The rolling carts are great but make navigating crowded booths a hassle.
- Set a budget and pull it out in cash. This is essential! My husband and I set a specific budget ahead of time. This keeps me from buying every neat thing I see. We budget for specific purchases we know we are making, as well as some free money for the unexpected finds.
- Inventory your curriculum and books. Oh how important! I need to know what I already have on my shelves so I do not buy duplicates. This also shows me where I have an abundance of resources and where I need to focus my spending.
- Make a Convention Binder or Notebook. I’ll be doing an entire post about this before convention, but just know that bringing something to write notes in that also has lists of books you have or need, maps of the vendor hall with highlighted vendors to visit, and more will be in here.
- Be Ready to Ask Questions! The vendors are there to help you. I also suggest supporting those helpful vendors by purchasing a product through them if you decide to buy, instead of saving two bucks at the discount vendor in the next aisle. The servant is worthy of his hire and they are serving the homeschooling community and you when they share their experience answering your questions.
I have lots more to say on the topic of preparing to attend a convention, so come back tomorrow to read about the Mental and Spiritual Preparations I make before attending conventions.
I would love to hear any of your tips on how to physically prepare for a convention – leave your ideas in the comments!