Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Homeschool Conference Notes and Tips!

Hello readers! I am so sorry for my disappearance, but my children headed off to camp last week and I took a Mommy Break! I hung out with old friends, had some quiet time and did a lot of shopping. It was great to finally have kids at an age that they could ALL attend camp together. They had so much fun and learned a lot. The best part? They made great friends.
Over the weekend I attended a homeschool conference and really got lost in everything there was to see and do. There were so many speakers, things for sale and people to chat with. I have a few tips to share in the event that you have a conference coming up!
Ahead of Time:
1. Sign up for conference updates ahead of time, even if you JUST MISSED one, sign up to keep updated. This will allow you to find out the exact dates of the next conference and all the information that you will need to ensure you keep that day or weekend free.

2. AS SOON as the schedule is available, print it out and begin to plan your day. There are many speakers that will be there and many topics that will be covered. Do your research if you don't have time to listen to them all. Some may have their speeches on You Tube already or information on their websites/blogs. This will assist you in proper time management.

3. Check the list of vendors if available. Do your research on each vendor so you know if it's a table you will have questions at or just like to browse. Sign up for their updates as well and you may find that they will be offering a conference only coupon! Keep tabs on their facebook pages as well.

4. Have a list of your MUST-Do's. If there are speakers you MUST hear and vendors you MUST visit, have them written out along with times that you need to block out.

5. Prepare of list of items that are needed for your curriculum and what you are looking for.

6. Find a sitter. Our conference didn't allow children, but if they had it would have been better to let them have fun with a friend of family member. This leaves you free to shop and not have to constantly entertain. It also allows you to listen to speakers and stay all day if you wish (I did!).

7. Start saving early! You may have a budget but there will be things that you have not seen before or ones that catch your eye that you will not want to miss out on. (Many vendors offer free shipping at conferences for attendees!)

8. Pre-Register if allowed, this allows you to walk in, find your name tag and move quickly past the registration table.
Day of Conference:
1. Set an alarm on your cell phone or watch for 5-10 minutes before each speaker you would like to hear. You may get caught up with a vendor or see a friend and miss the announcement.

2. Bring sturdy, reusable bags for all your purchases. Most companies offer plastic bags that are not enough to carry 1 book let alone the tons you will purchase!

3. Bring a notepad and pen to take notes during speakers and to jot down certain book titles that you are considering purchasing but not positive about while at that table.

4. Bring the list that you created of books that you are looking for and check it off as your purchase, so that you know what you have left to buy.

5. I kept 3 crates in my trunk to represent my 3 children. When our bags would get full, we would head to the trunk and divvy up the books to where they belong. This gave us a visual representation of what had been purchased and also didn't make for such a headache once we got home.

6. Arrive before opening. There are plenty of vendors offering used books for sale and you can get the pick of the bunch if you are one of the first in the door.

7. Make 1 round of the convention hall BEFORE purchasing anything new. (You want to pick up used books if the prices are very reasonable and there are not many copies of what you need) This allows you to take notes and keep track of who has the better prices on things you need.

8. Keep an eye on your time at all times, so you don't miss speakers or meet-ups that you may have going on.

9. Have a bottled water and snacks in your purse to keep your energized and not spending so much time taking breaks.

10. During your 1st break or while waiting for the first speaker to begin, check out your lists and get ready to start purchasing.
Additional Tips:
1. Try to allow time to go to the conference on closing day as well. After lunch, many used books sellers tend to go to 50% off and you could save considerably on things. It's worth paying a visit to see if there is anything you may need. I have picked up maps, flashcards and posters for less than a dollar!!

2. If you make it the day of closing plan on staying until the very end. Many vendors will try to get rid of some items at bargain basement prices just to not have to pack them up Or some used books will even go for free. (Note: This does NOT happen at every conference, but you never know!)

3. If vendors are asking for help packing up after the conference, see if you have time to stay! They often offer a coupon for the website to helpers or even gift cards! (Note: This may not happen with everyone you help, but at least you did a good deed!)
This is everything we came home with and though our wallets are a bit empty, the price does not even come close to paying someone else to educate our children! Do you have any tips to share??
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