Are you excited to attend the upcoming conference? We can’t wait to see you there! To make the most of your experience, you’ll want to spend some time and prepare for the homeschool conference. We’ve put together this helpful list of tips to get you started right!
Prepare for the Homeschool Conference
1. If at all possible, come as a couple (Your spouse is free). You can add your spouse when you arrive at the homeschool conference.) You can make it a special “get away” weekend without the children so you can spend some time talking over what you are learning.
Or you can bring your children and make it a family event. You will find sessions and resources to make it a wonderful family experience! (A parent must accompany children at all times.) Or they can attend workshops with you. They will hear many great speakers and catch a vision for family discipleship and homeschooling.
2. Get ready for the workshops. Look over the Conference Schedule-at-a-Glance. Print it out. Decide which workshops interest you. Circle them on the schedule. It can be a really helpful tool to get a quick look at where you want to go and when!
3. Read the workshop descriptions to help you make the final decision. If you have more than one workshop you want to attend during a session, pick the one that you think you’ll get more out of face-to-face and get the recording of the others.
4. Plan on skipping at least one workshop session. There are a lot of sessions to go to! You’ll need to plan on skipping at least one so you have extended time to shop in the exhibit hall. And you will want to have time to think through some of the things you have heard. You can always pick up recordings of sessions you miss.
5. Get ready for the exhibit hall. Think about your approach to education and learning. What approach to teaching and learning do you favor? Knowing the general approach you want to take with your homeschool (Charlotte Mason, classical, etc.) can help you to navigate the exhibit hall. However, don’t box yourself in! Look through all the vendors because you may just find a gem where you least expect it!
6. Look over the list of exhibitors and decide which ones are “must see” and circle those on the floor plan. Visit their websites to learn more about them. Visit those booths first at the conference. Then, if you have time, you can comfortably wander the exhibit hall.
[Remember Exhibit Hall Etiquette.] The companies that are displaying their materials in the exhibit hall have made a huge effort in time and expense to be here for you. Many of them are homeschool families for whom the income from the sale of their materials is their only income. They are experts in their areas and often the authors of the curriculum or materials they sell. If you spend time with them asking questions and learning from them, make sure you honor their effort by purchasing from them. Don’t try to save a few cents by going to a discount store or online. Honor those who help you by purchasing from them. (Besides, you probably won’t have to wait for it to come in the mail if you purchase it at the homeschool conference.)
7. Make a list of those items you KNOW you will want to buy at the conference – especially if you are going to shop at the Used Curriculum Sale.
8. Prepare the books and materials you are no longer using for the Used Curriculum Exchange. Be sure you know what the deadline is for submissions and be prepared well ahead of time so you’re not scrambling the night before! It’s a blessing to others to have that material available and a blessing to you to help you afford materials for next year.
9. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a light sweater. You’ll be doing a lot of walking and the air conditioning can be chilly.
10. Plan your lunch and dinner options. Be sure to check out food options provided, including local stores and restaurants. Bring food and drinks with you but be sure to follow all the venue guidelines for outside food and drink! Conferences held in Albany at the Linn Country Expo Center include on-site concessions, local restaurants, and also allow us to bring our own food and drink into the building.
11. You’ll want to take home recordings of the conference to provide encouragement throughout the year. Decide which sessions you’ll want to buy recordings of or get the entire set for year-round encouragement and refreshment!
12. And most importantly, cover the conference in prayer. Thank God that He has prepared just the right messages for you (as He always does). Pray that He will lead you in the right direction for your family. Ask Him to protect and preserve those preparing to minister to you at the conference – the speakers, the exhibitors, the OCEANetwork board, and the volunteers. It is our prayer that He be glorified in everything we say and do.
Have fun getting ready for the conference. And share some of your suggestions to help others get ready, too.
Your turn: What advice would you give someone who is attending the conference for the first time?
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