This past weekend I went to a homeschooling conference for the first time. I tried to be prepared, but really I didn’t know what to expect.
We arrived to the church that was hosting the conference with the schedule (with our lectures of choice circled), a budget, and a baby carrier. And prayers that Gabriel wouldn’t have a fussy day. 😛
I knew that the vendor hall would be overwhelming but I still wasn’t prepared for it. I hadn’t done my research, despite the fact that I had a list of vendors from the conference website.
We ended up buying things we didn’t need.
My first mistake?
Buying something before I had gone through the rest of the vendor hall. While I really like Handwriting Without Tears, I ended up finding a program that I think will work better for us for handwriting now that Tobi is finishing up the first Handwriting Without Tears workbook. However, I had already bought 2 more workbooks (kindy for Annie, and grade 1 for Tobi) at one of the first tables I went to because it was something I recognized. So now I’m trying to sell them again.
Anyone looking for Handwriting Without Tears workbooks (orange one and yellow one?) Let me know!
We did end up skipping the 2nd lecture block so that we could browse the vendor hall while it was less crowded. I thought that the budget Louis had allotted for the weekend was very generous but we ended up using almost all of it! (I’m not going to share what the budget was. I’m still a bit in shock and guilt about spending money.)
My next mistake? I should have gone with a list of what we were looking for, subject-wise. We spent money, came home with a huge pile of books, and then I realized that there are still holes that need to be filled. We have reading, writing, and math covered. But I still will need to find something for the rest. Oops!
Overall, it was a great experience. The first lecture I went to wasn’t as in depth as I had expected and I didn’t find that I learned anything, but the other lecture I went to was fantastic. I’ll be blogging a bit about what I learned in that one soon. We did find several books that I think will work well for us and our kids. It was just so encouraging to be in a building full of people who are going against the “standard” of public and private schooling and are thriving! And it’s so nice to be reminded that thriving doesn’t mean it’s always easy. I tend to feel like I’m failing because I’m struggling.
And Gabriel did fantastic! I did have to step out of both of the lectures I went to for a short while, but that’s it. He slept a bunch, he was happy on my back in the mei tai for a while, he was great!
The conference I went to has the option to buy a CD of all of the lectures from the conference. Since there are over 20 lectures to choose from and we could only pick a maximum of 3 to attend, we opted to buy the CD. I think that next year we’ll just buy the vendor’s hall pass and the CD instead of paying full price for the conference and having to buy the CD regardless.
Some more tips:
- Talk to the vendors! We were on the fence about one resource and the guy gave us his card and told us to email him and mention where we met him if we decided to buy it later. He would give us a better price on shipping than we would get from buying directly from the website.
- Get as many pamphlets and catalogs as you can. You’ll be less likely to overspend if you look over the catalogs at home and then make your purchases.
- Know that area you’re going to. We ended up eating a pretty disgusting meal for lunch at a restaurant I won’t name because we didn’t really know what was around.
Have you ever gone to a homeschooling conference? What are some lessons you learned, or tips you could share for someone who has never been to one before?