I can’t believe it’s been a week since I was at the Teach Them Diligently Convention in Sandusky. What a huge blessing it was! I got to connect with some amazing people – fellow homeschoolers, fellow homeschool bloggers, amazing speakers, vendors, and the amazing organizers. How amazingly refreshing to attend a convention that not only had great connections and information, but to attend a convention that is truly faith-based and supporting and encouraging discipleship.
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The few days before (including the first day of) the Teach Them Diligently Convention, things got a little crazy for our family. So, as the procrastinator that I am, I had nothing prepared before jumping in. I had looked over the sessions, but hadn’t yet chosen any! I knew when my volunteer shifts were, but I didn’t plan around them. I definitely was learning a lot along the way!
Homeschool Convention Tips
Here are the homeschool convention tips that were my main takeaways:
Given my preface, I’m sure you could guess I was going to say this. Seriously, though, I truly wish I had gone in better prepared. Look at every session and pray over it. Perhaps you may find that a session you initially overlooked may be the session God is leading you to. Despite my unpreparedness, I do feel praying over it helped me choose a session that was just what I needed from Simply Living for Him. It was amazing.
In addition to the sessions, I highly recommend having a plan for your meals as well. Are you taking a lunch or buying? If you’re buying where are you buying from? I went to get lunch at a quick food place within Kalahari, but the time it took to walk over there and then wait in line actually took too much time. I had to head back before I could even get food because I would have been late to my volunteer shift!
I, personally, attended alone and lived within a decent driving distance, so I did not have my family with me and did not stay in the hotel, so if you do plan on staying and having your family attend, I definitely recommend fully preparing for everything with your family in mind. For example, if our 6 year old was going to be with us, I would have prepared to have my husband and the kids do something flexible mid-day when he tends to get a little tired and irritated. That way they could even go back to the room for a rest if needed.
Take a Notebook and Pen
So, at my very first session, I felt a little silly when everyone around me was taking notes, and I had nothing to take notes on (or with). Of course, I always have my iPhone handy, and even take my iPad around with me once in a while. Although I am rather efficient at taking notes digitally, I also find getting out my phone can be distracting as well. I’m totally one of those people that has a compulsive need to get rid of the little red notification circles. So having a notebook and pen would be a much better option!
<h3take a Bag
Although we received a wonderful tote at registration, it’s always possible they could run out. Then you would be left without a bag to hold all the info you’re likely to pick up. Take a bag large enough to fit paper size materials that is also easy on your hand or shoulder. This way you can easily keep your notebook, things you need throughout the day, and still have enough room to pick up additional information.
Know Your Budget
Oh my goodness. Can I just say the Vendor Hall is amazing and overwhelming at the same time? Wow! If you don’t have a set budget going into it, it could be very easy to spend more than you intend to. The deals that are offered specifically at the convention are amazing and very hard to pass up. I can definitely say this first hand because thanks to some major dental work I had I had a budget of basically nothing. It was so, so hard to say “no” to all those things I thought we need.
After returning home and looking over all the information I picked up, there definitely were still some things that I do believe would have been a wise purchase (if budget allowed), but others I realized probably wouldn’t have been such a wise investment. Don’t be hasty to buy right when you see things. Take your time and visit vendors multiple times, then take a mental break to write everything down, the costs, and how you would integrate it in your homeschool. This will give you a snapshot of what you can and should buy as well as what you can’t or shouldn’t buy!
There are a variety of volunteer opportunities. There is the option to volunteer directly with Teach Them Diligently as well as some of the various vendors. Volunteer shifts are usually brief (2 hours at a time, for example, with 4-6 hours total) and either allow for free registration or offer monetary compensation.
If that alone isn’t enough, though, I actually have to say, it’s a great way to connect with others. I am most definitely an introvert. Put me in a room with 2-3 people and tell me to start up a conversation, and I’m stumbling over words. Put me in front of a lot of people, and I’m all kinds of chatty. I just love to help people, and volunteering put me in a position to do so. Essentially, it gave me a reason to talk to people! It was a great way to connect with the other vendors as well!
I cannot express enough how amazingly blessed I was by the Teach Them Diligently Convention. The fact that it is Gospel centered was a huge blessing, and I love that I connected with so many people. I saw people who live nearby that I see on a regular basis and got to connect with those I have only connected with online or those I only see once in a long while when we happen to be at the same event.
As someone who has been homeschooling for around 6 years now I have to say I definitely wish I had gone sooner. Now I will be waiting eagerly to go back to Teach Them Diligently in 2017! What are some of your favorite homeschool convention tips?
Here are some other great testimonials!
Have you heard of Homeschool Launch? It’s a great resource by Teach Them Diligently!