Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Do You Attend Homeschool Conventions?

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Do You Attend Homeschool Conventions? Part of the How Do You Homeschool Series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

No matter how long we've been homeschooling, we are curious about how other homeschoolers do things. And homeschoolers who are newer to the game obviously have lots of questions! This series will try to answers some of the questions homeschoolers ask each other. Questions about how we handle some of the little details and about our opinions on different aspects of homeschooling. Questions that we all might answer differently because what works great in one family might not work at all in another. 

Do you attend homeschool conventions or curriculum fairs? Is it worth going?

For many years I really did look forward to attending the curriculum fairs and homeschool conventions, and the short answer is that I do recommend going if you can!

Why go to a book and curriculum fair? These days I think many homeschoolers are asking why they would need to go to a curriculum fair. After all, anything you could possibly want for homeschooling, you can research and purchase online. And yes, for the most part, you can. But experienced homeschoolers usually say that it's extremely valuable to actually hold the books in your hand and physically flip through them. You get a much clearer idea of whether it will work in your home when you can flip through all the pages and see it for yourself. By going to a fair, you often have the opportunity to talk to the vendors about the products if you want to. I loved being able to connect for even a few moments with the author or publisher of a curriculum I was thinking about or already loved. And those authors, educators, and publishers truly enjoy connecting with the real life families that are using their products. Many of the vendors are small, family-run businesses, and the chance for them to interact with their customers and potential customers is valuable on both sides.

For example: One year Kennady wanted to study the geography and culture of Europe, but we hadn't found a curriculum at her grade level that covered the material she wanted. I happened upon some interesting books at the Simply Charlotte Mason booth in the vendor hall of a convention. The lady at the booth offered to answer my questions, and I spoke with her for quite awhile! Turned out she was the author, and thanks to her very gracious help, I purchased the book which turned out to be almost exactly what we had in mind. (Visits to Europe from Simply Charlotte Mason.)

Do You Attend Homeschool Conventions? Part of the How Do You Homeschool Series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

I've also been able to speak briefly with Ray and Charlene Notgrass (authors and publishers of Exploring World History and Exploring America), Tom Clark (VideoText Interactive), Daniel Ellis (ARTistic Pursuits), and others. Even the representatives for the big publishers are very helpful and gracious.

My experience with Simply Charlotte Mason also highlights another advantage of the curriculum fairs - the possibility of finding something you wouldn't have noticed otherwise. I found Practical Drafting and Graphic Design books from Insight Technical Education while browsing through an art supply vendor's books. I don't know that I would have found these books otherwise, and they turned out to be just the thing for my boys.

Do You Attend Homeschool Conventions? Part of the How Do You Homeschool Series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.comDo You Attend Homeschool Conventions? Part of the How Do You Homeschool Series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Now a homeschool convention usually combines the vendor hall with a slate of workshops and keynote speakers that will encourage and inspire you. It's a little easier to see why this is a valuable thing! We all need some encouragement, new ideas, and maybe some challenges, and great speakers can provide that. Don't feel like you need to do exactly what each 'expert' suggests though, or you will drive yourself crazy. Go into any speaker's session ready to evaluate what's useful and appropriate for your situation, and not worry about anything that isn't fitting for you.

It's been a few years now since I was at one of the "big time" conventions. I used to attend CHAP, the "big time" homeschool convention and curriculum fair in Pennsylvania, but it hasn't fit my calendar for a few years. Closer to home is the MACHE (Maryland) curriculum fair, which is just a vendor hall. I've attended that one every year. But not this April. There was a scheduling conflict since the usual weekend for the fair fell on Easter weekend, and it wasn't noticed until too late and it couldn't be rescheduled or moved. And crazy as I am, I pitched the idea to our local homeschool fellowship that maybe we could put together a homeschool fair more localized to our county, and that's what we are doing. I'm scared to death and I'm excited about the possibilities! I'll let you know how things are going. If you're nearby (in central Maryland) and would be interested, you can email us for information and updates: CarrollHomeschoolFair at gmail

For some pro tips on navigating a convention or fair, see my post: Curriculum Fair Shopping and Survival Tips

Curriculum Fair Shopping and Survival Tips @ Homeschool Coffee Break - kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

What do you think about homeschool conventions and curriculum fairs? Leave a comment and let me know what works for you - or leave a homeschool question you're curious about.

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