One of the most extravagant displays of education for a homeschooling parent is a convention. Whether you live close to one and go yearly, whether you travel a distance to check out different conventions, or whether you are on the fringe and just thinking about this entity of homeschooling, you NEED to attend a convention. And YES! You CAN enjoy this, even when attending conventions with children!
It is a magnificent display of all things educational. There are fancy fill in workbooks, brightly colored textbooks, and all these amazingly crisp new things just waiting for your brilliant child to stroke their pencil and learn all that there is to know. There are manipulatives, audio dramas, chemistry beakers, Lego building sets, Biology dissection kits, books to teach you everything from ABCs to advanced theology. And it is all there just begging to go home with you.
Wait; what is that…you are worried about how you will leave your family to actually attend one of these amazing displays of not only curriculum but traveling encouragement? Let me tell you that whatever you need to do…DO IT! If you have a willing friend or family member who can care for your precious gems in your absence, you may be better able to focus on the encouragement and tips you will receive in one of the many favorite workshops. If this is not an option, there is still hope…When you find yourself interested and willing but with your arms full of littles, go anyway and plan wisely.
Tip #1 for attending conventions with children
-Wear your baby-
If you have a littles that are 2 or under, consider wearing the baby and using the stroller for your purchases or when your shoulders get tired. Let’s face it; if you aren’t already baby-wearing, this is a great time to start. Babies love to be near mama, especially if there are lots of strangers around, and many of those baby carriers (my favorites are ring slings and wraps) carry “sleepy dust” with them so the chances are you may have a sleeping little while you try to hear the wisdom words of Heidi St. John or Jean Burk for that matter.
Tip #2 for attending conventions with children
-Pack snacks and drinks-
This is a multifold suggestion. If you have children with you they will undoubtedly become fidgety and hungry at some point. Save your hard earned cash for books and manipulatives, don’t spend it on expensive food items. Do be respectful with this suggestion though and don’t peruse the aisle of books with your snack in hand. Find a location where food is allowed and park it for a spell. This will provide you with time to reconsider purchases you are thinking of making. You may have seen something that really looked like a good buy, but it will eat a large chunk of your budget. Don’t impulse buy, go chew on it… literally.
Tip #3 for attending conventions with children
-Use them to your advantage-
Many homeschool conventions offer discounts to large families, special tracks for children and teens or as in the HEAV convention if you are a pre-schooling parent of children under 5, you can attend TOTALLY FREE! (http://heav.org/convention/qualifying-parents-of-preschoolers-attend-for-free/) You had all these littles, let them benefit your attendance. Check into your homeschool convention’s website and see what discounts you can get.
Tip #4 for attending conventions with children
-Have special bags packed-
If you are a mom like me who likes to limit junk toys and candy, this is NOT the time… pack little bags of goodies for little ones. You can pick up cheap little toys at a thrift store, disinfect and bleach them and then put them away so that when you present the little goodie bags to your children, they feel like it is Christmas! I am also known to pack a stash of dum-dum suckers in my purse as bribery to be quiet when ABSOLUTELY necessary. Let me say this flies in the face of the way I normally feed my children and my constant desire to rid my home of cluttery toys, but hey ladies, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Every homeschooling mom needs occasional inspiration on this journey. When you attend one of these conferences and listen to some other seasoned speakers you are able to gain a new view on things, a renewed sense of purpose, or maybe just the encouragement that you are doing the right thing. For me, I have made a conscious decision to make sure I attend EVERY year, littles in tow or not because the amount of renewed vigor for this choice that I receive from the workshops I attend help me keep chugging through the rough days and the times where I might just consider a sabbatical from homeschooling. Take this mama’s word for it, you NEED to attend a conference, you will be a better teacher and possibly a better mother for it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dawn is a homeschooling mom to 5 blessings ranging from preschool to highschool. When not loving every moment of the chaos she calls home, you can find her writing, gardening, feeding her chickens and blogging about the farm adventures and natural living over atwww.incidentalfarmgirl.com