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I have one word of advice for newbie homeschooling attendees
Do not enter the Exhibit Hall
Yes, you read that right, “don’t enter the exhibit hall”.
Let me explain.We are what I would call collective curriculum homeschoolers, and have been since the very beginning, meaning we use a different publisher for just about each subject our children learn. So when I entered an exhibit hall at a homeschool convention as a newbie homeschooler it was not a simple matter of walking up to Curriculum A’s booth and buying all of my supplies at that one booth and then leaving.
No, instead, I would need to wander from booth to booth deciding if what the vendor had to offer would help my tactile learner in math, or my visual learner in science, or my very distracted learner stay focused in ….well any subject.
When I was new to homeschooling and not yet confident in how and what I was teaching vendor spiels of “why this is the best for my child” (even though they have never met them) mixed with only so many hours to make decisions, caused me to snatch up curriculum that did not work for my children at all.
After attending homeschool conventions for several years in a row, my eyes were opened to the amount of wasted money, mental strength, and time I had spent in homeschooling convention exhibit halls, so I just stopped going.
I still went to the homeschool convention. I just didn’t enter the exhibit hall AT ALL.
I simply decided what speakers I want to hear ahead of time, and went and listened to some great uplifting and inspiring speeches grabbed my convention goody bag, and left.
80% of the catalogs I needed were in the convention goody bag, and the others were available by requesting one online. I also found that most of the catalogs came with free shipping codes attached, which I had been told was one of the main reasons to purchase in the exhibit hall.
I did all my thinking and shopping at home without the rush and without the vendor spiels. It reduced curriculum waste, thus saving me money. It also eliminated on the spot decision making thus reducing my mental anguish.
A compromise that works for me now that I have a few years of homeschooling under my belt
Now a few years later, I do enter the exhibit hall but only with a written list of needed curriculum in hand. I first look at the map of the exhibit hall before entering; this helps me go directly to the vendors I want and avoid window shopping. If I see something not on my list, I don’t buy it but instead ask for a catalog, in which I circle the item and then I let the catalog sit for at least a week before I look at it again and decide if we really need it.
A solution for newbies that gives hand on experience with curriculum without the pressure to buy…
If you really want to see hands on what the curriculum looks like, try organizing a curriculum preview event through your local homeschooling group, rather than entering the exhibit hall and risk become prey to impulse buying.
How it works is that you set aside a few hours where all the parents can meet in one large room with tables on which they can set out all the different types of curriculum they use in their homeschool.
By hosting a homeschool curriculum preview night, you will not only get a hands on look at various curriculum but advice from real moms and dads like you trying to find curriculum to best educate their child with.
I have even been able to talk to children at these preview nights and see what they think of the curriculum and since they are the actual ones using it I treasure their advice.
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