It is that time of year again...Convention Time! I love going to our state Convention (TPA Wichita.) I would probably love going to any state convention reallly, but ours is my favorite. I get to see homeschoolers from around the state and some friends that I only get to see once a year. I also get to put my hands on curriculum that I have been drooling over on the internet! I get to see vendors that I haven't met or haven't seen their products and I get to attend workshops that encourage, exort, convict, and teach.
It is just an all around great time!
But, it can be overwhelming the first few times. You register and start perusing the Vendor Hall in giddy anticipation. Then reality sets in and you start to panic. There are too many choices to look at and you can't rememeber what your friend told you you had to see so you put the information away for later.
Only later comes just a few days before Convention. A new level of panic takes over your body causing cold sweats and an upset stomach. There will be no way you are ready for Convention in time. None.
But wait. It doesn't have to be that way. Really, it doesn't. Convention can work FOR you not against you if you prepare and RELAX.
**One of the first things I do is register. That's easy enough, right? See, step one complete!
**Step two is to download and print the workshop schedule and vendor hall list. That's it. Don't do more than that if it is your first year. If you're a pro at conventions then take it away but do it quietly so the newbies don't freak out!
**Step three is to look at the workshop schedule with a pencil in hand. I start with a pencil because I always change my mind! I underline or circle the workshops that catch my eye the first time through. This will probably change the next time through and that's okay but for now just go with your initial choice. Then move to the Vendor Hall and do the same thing. Circle the ones you recognize or want to check out. Then leave them alone. Put it away and go play with your kids.
**Step four is a biggie. I enjoy this one but some don't and if you're a new homeschooler you might need to employ some help with this one. This step requires paper, pencils, erasers, time, and snacks! Depending on how many kids you have is how long this step will take. I have five kids so it takes me a while. Here's what you need to do.
--Make a list of the kids you are homeschooling. I like to have one piece of paper for each child because I make notes, change things, scribble, doodle, etc. Put the childs name on the top of the paper and you are ready to start. You will need to know your states requirements for classes so you know which subjects to cover but an easy way to start is 'reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic.' Once you have those basic subjects you can add in Spelling, Science, Foreign Language, or whatever subjects you want. Just make sure to cover the state regulations, please.
Here is are a couple of pics of what I have done in the past:
These pages are relatively clean compared to some years! I also have specific curriculum listed because I had been doing this for a while at this point. If you are new then you could just list out Math, Science, Language, with blanks beside them to be filled in later. Once you have this page filled out for each kid take a few minutes and just relax. *deep breath* Okay, how ya' doing? Are we good? Good! Now, it's time to start filling in the blanks. Chances are you know people that are already homeschooling and they have talked to you about the curriculum they use. Most of us start using things that were recommended to us-we may not keep using them but they are a good starting point. Fill in those spots. If you are borrowing the materials make sure to note that you have it so you won't waste time looking for it at convention. Still have some blank spots? That's okay. They will get filled in, I promise.
Stop there and grab a snack. I'll wait and have a snack myself.
Now, for the blank spots. Do you have some ideas for those? A couple of companies you want to look at? Write them down and circle them or star them or put question marks beside them; something that will help you remember to look for them. Don't have any ideas for the blank spots? Look at the list for the Vendor Hall and see if any of the vendors are what you are looking for. Visit their websites and check them out. If you like what you see write them down and highlight the booth on you list. If not, move right along.
As you are looking at the Vendor websites make sure you note any questions you have about their products on your list so you can ask them at convention. This is one of the best things about convention-talking to the publishers face to face and getting advice or help with their products.
Now, I would suggest making note somehow of what you need to buy along with what you already have. This is important because you don't want to end up buying something you don't need-not that I have done that or anything...ahem...keep reading, nothing to see here.
**Step five is taking us back to the Workshop schedule. Pull that baby back out and have a highlighter in hand. Read back over the workshops and see if you are still interested in your original choices. Yes? Highlight those puppies. No? Erase the marks and look for something else. Highlight the ones you want and make plans for shopping inbetween workshops. You are now ready to be inspired and encouraged!
**Step six is talk to your friends. I like this one!! See if they are going to the same workshops and sit beside each other. I know it sounds silly but everyone likes to see a familiar face, right? Plan to eat lunch with friends and even walk around the Vendor Hall together a few times. Especially if she is a veteran homeschooler!
**Step seven should happen just a few days before your convention. Get your notebooks, pens, pencils, and comfortable clothes picked out. Put everything into a binder or folder so it is all contained and easily pulled out. If you have one of those rolling carts be sure to bring it to haul your stuff around. If not, that's okay. Most conventions have a baggage check area where you can leave your items and come back for them later. Trust me, you DO NOT want to have to carry those bags around all day long. Get money for parking meters and lunch money ready. Scope out local places to eat so you're not scrambling during lunch break.
Don't forget to bring the list you made for each child with all your notes and questions handy. This baby will be pulled out, dog-eared, and marked up even more before convention is over!
When you finally get to convention you can relax and enjoy it because you have done all the prep work ahead of time.
Have any other suggestions for making convention going more enjoyable? Share them with all of us, please?!