Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Little Bit of Heaven for Homeschoolers

I walk, dazedly, into the large hall and gaze in wondrous rapture at a room filled nearly floor to ceiling with treasure. Such vast, unimaginable richness! I'm in awe. And when I see the large, vinyl sign that screams "Books as low as 90% off!", I swoon.

Ah, yes, the wonderful, fascinating exhibit hall at the homeschool convention! I might have exaggerated a little, well...okay...a lot, but that place really is amazing! And it's almost that time again. A great big, wonderful convention is coming to our area. I'm so hoping that we can attend this year. I haven't been to one since we moved from Indiana. Actually, I've only been able to attend two conventions, but they were so informative, helpful, and exciting!

Check this post at Heart of the Matter for more tips and info on homeschool conventions. 

I remember the first convention my husband and I attended. We had no idea what to expect. My husband was skeptical. "Probably won't be very many there," he said. "Oh, I think you'll be surprised!" I answered. We both were! There were thousands of people there, all sharing a common interest, and, in most cases, a common faith. There was something so uplifting about mingling with those families that day. We were all very different, and yet, we were bound together by a strong bond, our love for our children. I wish I could express that feeling. There was a oneness that I never expected and deeply appreciated. The entire experience changed my outlook on homeschooling forever.

 The workshops were very informative, the general sessions moving, motivating, and encouraging, and, oh, that exhibit hall! Or have I mentioned that already?

The speakers brought out Biblical truths that inspired my husband and I to stand strong in our convictions, even when misunderstood and looked down upon. And, as encouraging as those messages were, the realization that we were not alone was enough to bring new hope and strength to face the hard times. We were challenged spiritually as much as we were in any other way.

Back to the exhibit hall: You have never seen so many books, teaching aids, inspirational materials, etc., in one place! To be honest, it's quite overwhelming. But it's fabulous! What I liked most was being able to thumb through the curriculum instead of just reading about it or going on a friend's recommendation. A huge plus is the "90% off" stuff that I mentioned. :) There truly are some wonderful bargains and, as you know, that's always helpful! Most curriculum vendors offer free shipping if you order at a convention. Also, there are usually a few used book vendors where you can find some bargains. Really...you can save a lot of money here, if you have a plan! If you don't, you'll no doubt walk away with a lot of things you really don't need and will never use. There's just too much available, and it's so hard to resist! Trust me...I know this from personal experience.

One of the best things about the convention for me, was that it somehow helped to pull my husband in and get him more excited about homeschooling.  It brought us closer together in our efforts and in our goals for our children. Sometimes we get the idea that it's only the Mama's job to teach the children. On the contrary! Dad needs to be involved, too! After all, he's the administrator! :)

If you're a homeschooling parent, I encourage you to attend a nearby convention. At the bottom of this post I've included a couple of links to sites where you can see a calendar of some of the conventions. A word of caution, however: be on guard at these places. They're every bit as great as I've described, but all of the speakers and workshops may not be Biblically sound, so keep this in mind.

Here are a few tips to help plan your trip:

  1. I recommend registering early, if possible. It's cheaper, and you'll probably get a booklet in the mail with a map of the exhibit hall and a list of the workshops so that you can plan your visit. 
  2. Choose which workshops you'd like to attend, keeping in mind what you or your children may be struggling with at this stage. 
  3. Make a list of curriculum that you're interested in checking out. 
  4. Have plenty of paper and a pen for taking notes. 
  5. Do your homework. If possible, check the online prices (at amazon, ebay, or used homeschool curriculum sites) of the curriculum you're considering, to make sure you're really getting the best deal. 
  6. Take a pull-along suitcase or something similar in which to haul your purchases. Believe me, they all do it. That place looks like the loading gate at an airport. And some of those wonderful veterans had these nifty little collapsible carts. Show-offs.... ;)
  7. Don't forget money for lunch, and you'd better have a pretty good idea where you're doing to eat. If the convention you attend is as large as the one we attended, you'll be in a pretty big throng of people, all hungry and all in a hurry to get back for the next session. 
  8. Wear comfortable shoes! 
  9. Have a budget, or you'll wonder what broke ya. 
  10. Consider saving enough money to join the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. They generally offer a discount at conventions, and I recommend their services to any and every homeschooling family. 
  11. Keep an eye out for Christmas gifts, especially stocking-stuffers. You'll find a lot of fun items!
  12. Most of all, enjoy this time of encouragement and education! 
Check these sites to find a convention in your area:

If you do attend a homeschool convention in your area, let me know what you think of it! :)

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