Lessons From A Convention

Do you like to go to conventions?  Do you have to go for work or do you choose to go?  Whatever your feeling is about conventions I would like to encourage you to go to one, at least once every few years.  Preferably, I hope you can choose one that is on something that interests you and/or applies to your life.  I hope to go to a travel conference, ComicCon and a forensic science conference someday, but for now I am at a homeschool convention.  Since I home educate our children, this convention is immediately applicable to my life, it's close by and very affordable.  
I encourage you to look at conventions as TripLearning experiences for you and for your children.  So, I thought I would share some of the things I have learned from going to homeschool conventions like this one and I think some of these things apply to other types of conventions as well. 

1.  Don’t rush into buying something.
     Everyone thinks their way is the best.  As one workshop speaker said best, “The best curriculum is the one that actually gets done.”  Just because something sounds good, doesn’t mean it's the best thing for YOU.

2.  Look first, then go back and buy.
     I decided before I arrived at the convention that I would look around the first day, talk to vendors, pick up catalogs and brochures, compare prices, but NOT buy ANYTHING.  Even when I was worried that they would run out, I stuck to my decision.  Then I went home, looked things up online, thought through my school plan and returned the next day with a specific plan of what I needed to go and get.  The reason I bought a couple things at the convention was because I needed the items anyway and at the convention they were offering discounts and free shipping.  I did allow myself a couple small splurges of little inexpensive items that I thought would be nice to have and cost me less than $5.  Make sure you set limits and don’t feel forced into buying by even the most welling meaning of vendors.

3.  Listen to those who speak your language.
     They had a great variety of workshops and speakers at this conference.  Susan Wise Bauer is an excellent writer and speaker and she has written books on history, grammar, writing and Classical Education.  I have read many of her books, I use her history books with my children and I understand the classical approach to education.  Thus, when I saw she would be here I decided to come and hear her speak.  I do believe it is good to listen to people with new or different ideas, but sometimes its most beneficial to partake of what you can and will use in your life. 

4.  Take time to let it sink in.
     Process it.  At lunch.  At home.  In the hotel.  Give yourself downtime to let your brain focus on what you’ve stuffed in it.  That may mean you skip a workshop.  That is okay.  I take notes so I can focus during the workshop and so I can look back on it and figure out how to apply what I heard.

5.  Be aware of what’s out there.
     I am very eclectic in my curriculum choices.  I have also homeschooled for seven years, so I have a pretty good idea of what I am doing and how and what I want to teach.  However, I still like to see what is out there.  I had a vendor ask me what I was looking for and when I said, “Nothing really,” he asked me why I was even here.  I’m not the one vendors are hoping for at their booth.  However, I continue to talk to new homeschool moms and parents considering the homeschool option and I realize not everyone will want to do it “my way” and I may be able to give them other ideas to consider.  Though I may be very passionate about my views and how I teach, I don’t believe it is for everyone.

6.  Experience the diversity.
     Of course, when my husband dropped me off the first day, who should we see but two moms wearing long skirts and one had her hair in a bun.  That’s how homeschoolers are often pictured.  However, if he had come inside he would have seen a variety of people, wearing all styles of clothing and hairstyles.  There is no stereotypical homeschoolers anymore.  People from all walks of life are embracing this educational option and it’s good to get out and see that at a convention.  Also, if you don’t know many other homeschool families, a conference is a great way to be reminded that you are not alone.


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