I am going to tell you that if you don’t regularly go to a convention, you should.  Think of it as in-service training.  Actually, at a convention I spoke at last weekend, I had to sign papers for people who came to my sessions so that they got credit for on going training. I thought that was a brilliant idea and I think we need to consider the convention in that same light – on going training! Convention is your time to ask questions, pick people’s brains, get your hands on that cool, new curriculum and get inspired.   You also never know what conversations with a  perfect stranger in some  booth will change your life or your children’s life.  It is important.  In the words of Shakespeare, ” Get thee to a convention!” Okay, lecture over.



For all of you home schooling Moms, you know what’s coming? Convention season. 

For some of us, it’s an exciting thought, for others it’s a dreaded thought. I think we, as home school parents, should go to the convention every year, whether we like it or not. Why? Because it helps us to be better educated and if we don’t need the education surely some newbie does and they could use a veteran’s advice.

I happen to love convention season. I love going to conventions whether I am working the convention or attending the convention. I love all the books, all the new curriculums and the science kits, oh and the history add-ons and did I mention the books. (Seriously, where else can you buy owl pellets, a how-to knit book, a Bible and Historical comparison timeline, an Adventures in Odyssey CD, and a Laura Ingalls Wilder bonnet? That’s awesome – I’m just sayin’) I love that I could learn about how to teach reading and how to teach Calculus within a two hour time span. I love all the possibilities. It just makes me happy.

I am aware that the convention can also be an overwhelming, scary place full of too many options. So I have decided to give to you my list of convention prep. I have been going to conventions since I was 15. For those of you counting, that’s a long, long, LONG time. First as a student and now as a Mom, so I have some well used practical hints.

1. Make time with your husband to pray and write out your goals for your home school and your kids. Bring these goals with you to the convention to help you narrow down the choices.  This is a vital step in deciding to homeschool, picking curriculum and being deliberate in parenting and educating your children.

2. Read Debra Bell’s “The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling” before you go. It will help you get an understanding of the types of curriculum out there. Veterens and speakers will toss arounds words like, “classical, Charlotte Mason, literature based, unit studies and lap books” and it will give you some understanding of what in the world they are talking about.

3. Go with a friend who has been homeschooling longer than you. Bring your husband. Pay a babysitter, bribe your mother or do whatever you need to do to have your husband come with you. My husband is a life saver at the convention. He sees the bigger picture and helps me to pick curriculum that meets our goals and he carries all the heavy stuff. I love that.

4. Make a list before you go of what you need. Don’t go in blind, do the research, visit web-sites, message boards, e-mail me, talk to the lady at church that home schools to figure out what you need.

5. Make a budget – be realistic. I spend at least $1000 a year total on all three kids curriculum although with high school looming that number is about to jump, I fear. That $1000 looks a lot but check out what a private school costs. Some people do it with less, some more. I buy what we think is best for our kids. Sometimes that’s the most expensive curriculum, sometimes it’s not. Keep your husband out of your budget money. We have more books on the Roman Empire than I know what to do with.  As an update, with kids in online classes for high school and the cost of high school subjects, I spend closer to $1750 per child in high school.

6. Plan to go for more than one day. I find I need the first day for looking around and the second or third day for buying.

7. Our cardinal rule – NEVER BUY MAJOR CURRICULUM ON THE FIRST DAY. No matter what that amazing speaker says, go home( or the hotel room) think about it, talk to your husband, look at your goals and sleep on it. This has saved me a world of trouble. I can’t count the number of times I have changed my mind after some thought and prayer and sleep. Trust me.

8. Wear really comfortable shoes and bring a sweater, notebook , pens, caffeine and chocolate. You can thank me later.

9. Plan time to shop. It’s tempting to go to all the speakers but you need time to get hands-on with the curriculum. Ask questions of the vendors. Ask the vendors if their curriculum fits your goals. ( I love doing this – it saves me so much time) Don’t be afraid to spend major time at a booth, especially if it’s going to be your main curriculum ( think MFW, Sonlight, TOG etc). Ask me how much time I spent at the MFW booth before we decided it was the “one”. David Hazell knew me by name and sight while choosing Kindergarten. It’s also okay to just say that you need time with the Teacher’s Manual looking at the curriculum. Do what you need to do. I always sit at the back toward the end of a row because if a speaker is not talking about things I need to hear, I leave.  As a speaker myself, I don’t find this rude, you are there to learn about how to homeschool your children and your time is valuable. (Okay, I was thrown off when my name was announced and half the room left.  Usually, I don’t offend people quite that fast.  Later I found out that they moved the Susan Wise Bauer talk from that room.  I would leave my own talk to hear SWB speak so that seemed fair.) 

10. Buy fun things to bring home to your kids. Buy a bonnet, a rubber Bowie knife, a game, a new Adventure in Odyssey and a new book to read. They will think conventions are great.

If you are not a home schooler and you just want great, God honoring books, CD’s, games, devotionals, parenting books, how-to’s on grinding your own wheat, whatever, the home school convention is a great place to go as well.
Hope this helps and hope to see you there!

In February of 2017, I am going to the Fort Worth Great Homeschool Convention and am planning a get together on Friday, the 24th from 2:00-4:00. If you want more info, leave a comment on the Shining Examples FB page and I will keep you updated. 

5 comments on “Going to a Homeschool Convention?”

  1. I am new to homeschooling this year. I love reading your posts I got your blog from MFW people. I use MFW and love it. I would love to hear you speak when and where are speaking? Thank you for your wonderful blog! It has helped me tremendously!

    • Thanks, Jen! I am not speaking this year. Too busy with my teens, since I only have 2.5 years until they graduate, I want to be really present.

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