Monday, May 11, 2015

How I Prepare For The Homeschool Convention {And A GIVEAWAY!!}

Convention season is upon us! This makes us homeschool  moms very happy. The only convention I have ever been to is the Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) Convention. HEAV is so much fun. I have been going since I had my first son (he was a newborn). I have been enjoying it ever since. Going to a homeschool convention can be very exhausting if you don't have a plan. The first time I went I was in shock.

The exhibit hall has hundreds of people milling about among the hundreds of vendors (seemed like that anyway). There are so many speakers that you want to go to every single workshop. Planning ahead gives you a clear picture of what your day might look like and how to get the most out of the convention without stressing over every detail.

Here's How I Prepare For The Homeschool Convention: 

  1. I go to and look over all of the speakers and print out the workshop schedule a few weeks before the convention. This helps me decide which speakers I really can't miss hearing in person and which ones I can listen to on the mp3 download of all the speakers (you can purchase one of these in the registration hall). I usually get the mp3 because there is no way to be able to hear all of the speakers. So, having a printout of the speakers I do want to hear in person gives me a plan for my day. 

  2. Make a budget that you want to spend at the convention and stick to it. There will be many temptations. There will be many things calling your name, but you must resist...unless of course your budget is none existent. Then, you can go crazy. But, most homeschoolers are on somewhat of a tight budget. There are many needs to be met. You also have to remember that there is a Used Curriculum Sale. That's right! Used curriculum for cheap. Remember to budget in for spending a little money there as well as the exhibit hall. It is a lot of fun digging through the unknown and finding a treasure! There is also a Silent Auction...lots of wonderful things to bid on.

  3. I go back to and look over the exhibitors list for the exhibit hall. I find out which companies and/or speakers will have a booth and make a plan to visit them during my exhibit hall time. I schedule in my exhibit hall time in between speakers and workshops. It's usually around lunch time that I finally get to step inside of the exhibit hall. If you don't have a plan of where you are going and which booths you want to visit it can be a little overwhelming (included in your welcome packet upon registering you get a map of the exhibit hall). Make sure to schedule in enough time to really look around. Maybe a company and/or speaker will catch your attention. You don't want to feel too rushed if you are learning something new about a product. 

  4. Make sure to have a list of companies you are wanting to use for the following year. If you are looking for a new math program to use, do some research ahead of time to see if it may be worth looking at when at the convention. There are so many things you can see in person and it does make a difference if you have a sense of what you are looking for and what questions to ask the vendor. 

  5. Get plenty of rest the night before the convention. I live an hour away from the convention hall in Richmond, Va. so I have to get up super early to arrive in time for the first speakers on Friday morning. You can attend on Thursday afternoon for the free classes on how to begin homeschooling. They are informative and delightful. Afterwards, go to sleep. It will be hard to walk around this huge event if you are sleepy and exhausted. Also, eat a healthy breakfast. That is the key!

  6. Bring plenty of water and snacks. I know a lot of folks pack their lunches because they bring their entire families. I do not pack lunch and treat myself to something from the cafeteria because I am on my own for those few days. It is a treat for me and I budget it in. But, I make sure I bring some healthy snack such as nuts, granola bars, carrot sticks, or an apple. And, did I mention to bring plenty of water? If you don't stay hydrated you will feel tired quickly.

  7. Bring a rolling cart or suitcase. I did not do this my first year and regretted it terribly. I didn't even buy much that first year but there are so many booklets, catalogs, free samples, free pens, tote bags.....I could go on and on. Bring something to put it all in that rolls. It will make a huge difference for your arms and back! 
For those of you who are homeschooling and have all preschoolers AND it's your first time attending the HEAV Convention you can get in for Free! That means that you get to attend the convention and get all of the benefits as anyone else. How fun is that? Also, on Thursday, June 11, you can attend the free "how-to-begin" workshops as well. Just make sure to sign in at the registration table in the lobby.

The HEAV Convention is such a tremendous blessing for me and my family. Now, it's your turn to enjoy the blessing. I am hosting a GIVEAWAY for a Family Pass (for the full three days including workshops, exhibit hall, and used curriculum sale) to the HEAV Convention (June 11-13, 2015). Please enter below on the Rafflecopter and please spread the word!

Note: Please click on the link below. I am having some technical issues that won't allow the Rafflecopter to show up on my blog. Sorry for any frustration (believe is frustrating). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Dana Brown said...

I think this is where I am supposed to comment about the HEAV Homeschool Convention to enter for the giveaway.

This is my first year of homeschooling my two youngest children. They are 8 and 6 and we adopted them from foster care in 2013. They have been in Public school, and Christian private school. I wanted to homeschool from the beginning, but as you can imagine, the transition was a struggle and none of us were ready to homeschool at the beginning.

I am so happy to say that we are all ready and excited about homeschooling next year. I hope to bring them up to their true grade level as they both were held back due to struggles and issues in foster care and transitions from home to home can create a delay in academics.

I have not been to a convention yet, but I hope that it will answer many questions I have, some I don't even realize I have and will ease my anxiety about whether I can actually do this or not.

Thank you for the opportunity to enter this giveaway.

Dana Brown

Nancy Kitchens said...

Tried to comment on the Rafflecopter giveaway page for the blogpost entry but it wouldn't work. Either way....this was our first year homeschooling and I can't wait to go this year to see everything with a whole new set of eyes. There's so much for me to learn! Would love free tickets (budget is pretty tight right now). Thanks. :-)

Cheryl Baranski said...

Loved your blog post. My favorite part about the convention is talking to everyone. It doesn't matter if it is a family, vendor or a speaker. I love to ask them questions about homeschooling and for advice.
So could use the tickets. Very tight budget and low income. Would be a blessing to win.

Joshua and Stephanie said...

Looking forward to being inspires and meeting fly lady and moneysavingmom again...

littlehouseofpenguins said...

I don't generally get the opportunity to listen to the speakers because my mom accompanies me, so we always end up just going for a day. So mostly I just go to the exhibit hall and the used curriculu sale. But there's enough there to keep you busy for a full day, as it it!

I do the same thing you do with the list of exhibitors. I go through the list, and for any exhibitor I'm not already very familiar with, I go to their website to look at what they sell, watch demo videos, etc. Then I make a spreadsheet with everything I'm interested in and the price it would cost me (with shipping) to buy online. That gives me a point of comparison when I look at the item in person (minus shipping).

My daughters were just telling me how much they've been enjoying a certain character/virtue book and asking if there were more like it. I was delighted to tell them that there are several more levels available and that I bought it at the homeschool convention last year, so I can get more this year! Now they're as excited about the convention as I am. :)

Irene Nickols said...

I have attended the HEAV homeschool convention the past two years with my family. The kids are begging to go back for the fun activities provided. Personally, I love to be an informed consumer so I enjoy the opportunity to examine the curriculum choices and ask questions of how the products will meet the needs of my special learners. My husband says that convention may not be affordable this year because our budget is very tight now with 6 kids. I'm praying God will provide the means to get us there.

Hope Hamer said...

I love everything about convention! The workshops are encouraging and informative. The UCS is overwhelming, but I live for a good bargain! The exhibit hall is awesome and I love the opportunity to hold and flip through things that I have only looked at online.

Jessica S. said...

We have only attended one convention- we attended the informational session for beginners. It was wonderfully positive and assuring!

This is our third year and I can not wait to go back & attend the workshops to learn something new!

Heather said...

I find that budgeting enough to purchase the convention set of mp3s is a blessing that keeps on giving all year. I never get to hear every speaker I'd like to, and I do love to visit and wander around the vendor hall. Knowing I won't really be missing any info I might benefit from by having the talks to listen to later really helps me relax and enjoy the experience.

Laura Chymist said...

Thank you for the information! I've never been to the convention and this was so helpful!

Laura Chymist said...

Thank you for tips. I've never been to the convention. This will be so helpful to make the most of my time there!

Michelle Marttila said...

Thanks Kristy…great ideas! I attended last year and you are right on with #7…I had to carry or stash my box of books! :) I am excited to be a vendor this year…hope to meet you there! Michelle