Homeschool 101: Homeschool Convention – Should you go?

 A sign of spring for homeschoolers: conventions

Tis the season of homeschool conventions and conferences. If you’re active on social media at all, you’ve probably gotten emails about conventions. You’ve probably seen posts on Facebook.  And you may have received event invitations or reminders about your local, state or national homeschool convention. There seem to be so many, and the number is growing every year.

What is a homeschool convention?

A homeschool convention, or conference, is a hosted event that offers speakers, seminars, and workshops on homeschooling topics. It will also have a vendor showcase to homeschooling or thinking-about-homeschooling parents.  Most conventions are faith-based, though there is a growing amount of secular or inclusive conferences now.  Some topics may only be tangentially related to homeschooling, such as prioritizing a marriage in a homeschooling family.  But most will offer seminars on topics such as getting started in homeschooling, how to teach children to read, and special needs in homeschooling.  There may also be workshops on various methods of homeschooling, such as Charlotte Mason or lapbooking.

Many families will budget extra for a homeschool convention. Purchasing curriculum at a convention saves on shipping costs. Sometimes vendors offer great deals too.  In addition to curriculum, vendor halls also offer exhibits from national, state or local organizations that serve the homeschooling community. Your local homeschooling group will have a booth.  HSLDA – the well-known worldwide legal and political support organization – will probably also be represented. You may get booths from research institutions, local universities, tutoring agencies, and even a few children’s authors.

Why should a newbie go?

A homeschool convention is a great place to go if you’re just starting to look into homeschooling, or are curious to know more about it. The workshops and seminars will be very informative, and the vendor halls are an amazing place to explore and be able to look at various curriculum options. But more than that, a convention is a place to connect with other homeschoolers, in various stages of homeschooling. New-to-homeschooling families will be reassured that this can be done, and done well.  And you aren’t alone in your homeschool journey.

Why should a beginner go?

For those who have started homeschooling, for whatever reason, and have maybe homeschooled for a year or two, a convention is ideal.  You can refine your methods, dive deep into the nitty-gritty topics and get questions answered. It’s a one-stop-shop for all your information needs. New homeschoolers generally change up their curriculum choices, while they are figuring this out.  So the vendor hall will definitely be on your list of things to do.  You’ll want to make sure you set aside enough time to explore all your options as you decide on curriculum for the next year.

Why should a veteran go?

Sometimes, those of us who have been homeschooling for a long time – 6 years or more – can feel like homeschooling conventions don’t offer much to us, beyond the exhibits in the vendor hall. But attending seminars and presentations can help prevent burnout and renew your enthusiasm for homeschooling. There’s nothing like talking to a new homeschooler, and sharing your reasons and methods of homeschooling to remind you of why you started in the first place.

In addition, the new homeschoolers and those thinking about it need you there. They need to see successful homeschoolers — even if you aren’t sure just how successful you are, yet.  The ones who are new to this lifestyle want to meet those of us in the trenches of it. Be there if only to be a resource for others coming behind you, just as those you met when you first started helped you.

Why should a homeschool alumni go?

If you have graduated all your homeschooling students, you should still attend a convention. Just because you’ve stopped actively homeschooling doesn’t mean that you should stop going to homeschool events. You’ll be able to connect with old friends, make new friends and be able to pass on your wisdom.

Perhaps as a homeschooling alumni, you’ll be on the teaching side of those seminars and workshops. Volunteer and help make these conventions a success.

You should attend a convention

Anyone who is involved in homeschooling will find a convention useful.  Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been around the community for decades, a convention will have something for you. Do yourself a favor, and purchase your tickets to go today.

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