Homeschool families around the country are gearing up for the new school year. Some have already started (like our family). Others are taking advantage of the freedom of homeschooling and not starting until after Labor Day. Still others school year round with smaller breaks throughout the year versus a long summer break.
You may be excited to use those new books on your shelf or overwhelmed at the costs you are looking at. Today I would like to encourage you to consider one more piece to your homeschool budget. Homeschool conventions.
Convention season is still months away so it may seem my timing is odd. I assure you, it’s not. Right now you are hopefully excited at the prospects of a brand new year. That’s great, it really is. Unfortunately, excitement tends to wear off after a while. This is where your homeschool convention comes in to play. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at why you should budget for a homeschool convention.
Why Should I Budget for a Homeschool Convention?
1. State homeschool conventions fund your state homeschool associations. Your state homeschool associations are your voice in the political world. Your state homeschool association monitors the legislation moving through your state government for anything that may impact homeschoolers. This is a HUGE job.
The wonderful lady who did this for our state organization (Indiana) personally went through 2,000 bills in 1 legislative session. And she wasn’t paid a dime because convention attendance has drastically dropped in the last few years and the organization can no longer afford paid staff.
Your family’s convention registration helps cover costs to keep homeschooling a safe, viable option in your state. Your presence at the convention gives your legislators a visual for the community the state organization represents. In Indiana, our legislators are invited to attend the convention so they can see this first hand. State organization conventions are important.
2. Encouragement, you need it. Homeschool convention speakers are wonderful people. I am happy to know a few. They share their experience and offer bother encouraging words and practical help. Sessions can range from specific subject help, homeschooling stages help (high school!), encouragement for parenting, and tips for homemaking or working from home while homeschooling.
3. The exhibition hall. If you have never been to a homeschool convention, you have really have no idea of how awesome this is. It can be very overwhelming (which could be another reason to choose a smaller convention…), but it is such a blessing to be able to physically look through a curriculum you are considering spending your hard-earned money on.
Check the vendor list of any convention you are considering to see if the companies you are looking for will be there, if they aren’t you can always contact the convention organizers and let them know that you would love to see them there. Most convention organizers are very open to hearing feedback from attendees and potential attendees.
Here’s the big secret that I didn’t know until I attended my first convention, there is so much more than just official curriculum in the exhibit hall! When we attended IAHE‘s convention this spring, our favorite vendor booths were the one full of science stuff (boxed experiments, state specific photo guidebooks, and much, much more), the traveling used book stores with loads of books at great prices, and the one that had so many microscopes in a variety of strengths and prices.
Ok, that and the Apologia booth. I’m a big fan of Apologia’s, but they are traditional curriculum so I left them out of that little list.
You can also find booths selling blank books, sketch books, and paper. I’ve even seen booths selling kitchen items like wheat grinders, you know, because you aren’t an official homeschooler until you’ve ground your own wheat and made bread. 😉 (For the record, I’ve never done that either. Shocking, I know.)
Seriously, Homeschool Conventions Rock
In all seriousness, consider attending a homeschool convention this coming spring. If you only have enough budget for one, choose your state convention if at all possible. If you can afford it, do more.
After your state convention, I recommend Teach Them Diligently. It is a unique conference. The mission of Teach Them Diligently is to equip families to disciple their children for Christ. This means that a lot of their sessions and vendors fall outside of homeschool specifics.
Don’t get me wrong, homeschooling is a focus. It’s just that they focus on growing Christ-centered families first and homeschooling is a natural branch of that. Many of the sessions I saw on the docket last spring would have been relevant to parents with kids in other educational settings, too.
In summary, I strongly encourage you to support your state organization and their convention to help protect your family’s rights in regards to education. If you can afford to, I then encourage you to attend a Teach Them Diligently conference for more encouragement.