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Homeschool Convention Season

Summer is here! So much to enjoy. Warmer weather, camping trips, garden tomatoes, swimming pools, curriculum fairs/conventions. Ever wonder what the difference is between a curriculum fair and a convention? The terms can be used almost interchangeably. Basically, a convention generally involves a day (or two) of classes that may have a vendor fair. A curriculum fair often has classes with a large gathering of vendors who have great advice and would love to sell you something.

If you are new to the convention scene, they can be an exhilarating experience but also very overwhelming. They present an opportunity to learn things and meet people and recharge your homeschooling batteries. So what things can create a successful, less stressful day? Here are a few suggestions from some veteran moms.

Vendor fair tips:
• Take a list of “must-buys” and “would-be-nice” things. This could include specific products, new items to teach a specific subject, whatever. Attendees will often find products for which they have been looking and things with which they are unfamiliar.

• Know what your budget is!! It is common to overspend if you don’t watch your budget.

• Wear comfortable clothing and bring a backpack or small suitcase on wheels.

• Walk the entire vendor fair before making any unplanned purchases.

• The vendor fair is less crowded during class time than at any other time during the day.

• Vendor fairs can be fun places to buy gifts as well as curriculum. Keep your eyes open.

• Visit with the vendors. They have ideas and experience that can be invaluable. Just remember that their time is money. If you are going to talk with them about their product for more than a few minutes, purchase from them. It is unkind and unethical to take their time and then buy from someone else to save a few dollars.

• When money is tight, look through the catalogs you receive anyway. Many items can be reproduced at home-especially if you are good with your hands. (Thus freeing up money for the things you can’t make but still need-like an 1828 Webster’s Dictionary).
Class tips:
• Bring a notebook and take notes. You won’t remember everything each instructor says!

• Ask around if you are not sure which classes to attend.

• Attend with a friend. That way you can either compare notes or attend different classes and then share over a meal later.

• If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, give yourself an hour off to just “process”. Some classes have so much information that you can get overloaded if you don’t allow yourself time to think.

• If you find a presenter you love, you may want to attend more than one class from them. And if they are in a position to do so, talk with them after their presentation time is completed. Sometimes the best class you will have is the “class-after-the-class”. Or ask if they have any literature or a website for more information.

• If you are in a class that is not going to meet your needs, it is okay to leave. You only have so many class hours; use them wisely.

• If a teacher mentions a product in a class that interests you, ask where it can be bought, make a note of the name and check at the vendor fair to see if you can purchase it without paying a shipping charge.

• Take time to eat! Bring along a water bottle and some snacks. Make time for lunch.

• Analyze your needs before you attend. There may be a class that is just what your family needs. (If you have a son that is a budding scientist and you need help-take a science class or two even if it is not what you would normally attend.)

• Take at least one class just for fun! This is a time to learn and to fill Mom’s bucket.

Homeschooling is a life-style and an exciting challenge. Attending fairs and classes can provide information and “stuff” to enhance our homes and lives. Going with a plan and listening to the Spirit gives us the opportunity to take much more home with us than we might expect.