This is prime planning season for those who are homeschooling – or considering homeschooling next year.
This is when the catalogs roll in.
This is when I find it hard to finish this year because I’m slightly ready for summer and a little bit excited for all the ways next year will be better.
June 20 and 21 is the 20th annual Oregon Christian Home Education Conference in Portland, and it’s a great time to buy new or used books, listen to great speakers, and get generally overwhelmed/encouraged/renewed.
I attended my first homeschool conference 11 years ago with my husband, and without a clue. We walked into the huge exhibit hall and were buried by a million good choices and helpful people, and 14 billion great books.
Maybe we bought twice as much as we really needed.
My husband was a trooper. Books are my thing and since this was also our anniversary trip, I was definitely getting my way.
I think we went fishing for our next anniversary, because that’s fair.
Hindsight really makes you wiser and in subsequent years I left my husband home and came to the conference more prepared.
I thought I’d share some of the wisdom-gained-from-making-mistakes with you.
These are the things you need in order to survive any homeschool conference:
1. Good shoes. Don’t worry about cute – go for functional. The conference in Portland is held in two exhibit halls at the Oregon Convention Center and you will probably walk miles, some of them in circles. (There is no standard-issue homeschool mom uniform, by the way. Wear your denim jumper or your leggings – just don’t forget comfortable shoes!)
2. A rolling cart for your loot. Or a good book bag, or your child’s wagon, a wheelbarrow, seriously. You do not want to be lugging around the plastic shopping bags vendors will give you. If you are able to attend both days of the conference: look the first day, buy the second.
3. A notepad. I didn’t have a smartphone when I attended my last convention, but that would have been really helpful, too. Make note of things you are interested in, things you want to price out, things that may be useful for the future. If you attend any of the speaking sessions, you will definitely want to take notes.
4. A plan.The most important thing to take with you to any homeschool conference is at least some idea of what you are looking for. Spend some time before the conference looking through catalogs and studying up. Take a look at some resources I recommend here, and make a list of questions you might ask the vendors or other homeschool parents you will bump into at the conference. Check out the speaker sessions for the conference and decide which ones you’d like to attend. If you go with a plan you will be less prone to impulse buying and feeling overwhelmed.
The conference is a great way to save money on shipping and also to get a firsthand look at things you’ve only seen in catalogs – everything looks good, but actually opening up the book and flipping through it can give you a better feel.
If you pre-register by June 5, admission is free for parents of preschoolers.
Whether you are undecided or fully committed to homeschooling, the conference is a great place to further your own education about homeschooling.
Go. Have fun. And don’t be overwhelmed!