Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blog Cruise: SisterT's Talking About HSing Conventions and Resources!

Sooo, WHAT does SisterT think about Homeschool Conventions~have I  attended: what are the benefits, pitfalls, etc.~what was my experience? I am participating in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Crew weekly Blog Cruise and so I will answer again this week.  You can read the other Crew's input              !

It IS that time of year again~Spring brings with it a good many offerings in some areas of homeschooling conventions, conferences and book sales for homeschoolers of every age.  Some off classes and seminars for the whole family, while others are just sale/vendor rooms with table after table of everything from the latest curriculum product offering to some offering used book/product sale tables...What you find can be a mixed bag depending upon who is organizing and offering~Call some of them: EVERYTHING: HOMESCHOOLING events.
Photo Credit: Darcy

You know, since this is my 10th year, what I've participated in has changed a good deal.  When I first started out we lived about three states away in a little country town near a larger city that has a homeschool group.  At the time, I borrowed a good bit of my resources, and the homeschool group in that larger city offered a book sale each May~I'm assuming they still do this and maybe more, but I went a few years and even in the later years this gathering included some seminars of the vendors on various topics...I enjoyed them.  I found them useful and the biggest thing I liked was being able to actually spend some time with the products BEFORE I purchased them and also the used book sale room.  I am soo into used things, as I have found it to be a great way to go~My love for used began in the borrowing of resources and also in that time and at that particular venue.

Since those early days, we moved two states away from that place and again to another small berg, but with a much much larger city nearby.  I attended one large, and I'd call it a moderately large homeschool convention, but probably nothing like what is offered in the major cities today.  For me it was very large and the vendor room was actually overwhelming.  I really don't like HUGE crowds and while it was, as I might compare it, not the biggest that I can imagine are offered~it was really more EXPERIENCE than I enjoyed, so I have yet to return to another convention/sale like all weekender stuff for me~SisterT is either too old or just not willing to put myself in that much chaos!oops, sorry..EVENT!!  But let me say that in that larger experience, I did manage to purchase a few things, but in all honesty, I bought more and did more in the earlier, smaller format.  For those who organize the large ones, I'm sure that what I am saying might be a surprise, but to me~bigger isn't always better...I like small, intimate gatherings where I have the time and space to experience the things I am looking for to take back to our homeschool.  I like being able to actually talk to the vendors and spend time with the materials...not possible with a crowd around the table/booth or loads of people asking too...I found rushing in large numbers of people exhausting as we moved from one seminar to the next...too much sugar for my dine!

Soo with this all said~would I ever do it again? Probably not.  I live relatively close (just a couple of hours) away from a HUGE major city convention, and while I'd love to meet some of you~my online buds, I'm just not cut out to make that kind of sacrifice of time, expense or effort.  But let me say too, that our needs have changed and are different too~we're doing virtual academy now, so I don't have to purchase everything we need homeschooling anymore~it just isn't a need in this way~I have homeschooling stuff currently, we will never use!  Soo NO, I won't be going...but, if I had much younger children who aren't attending the online school, I would look for a smaller venue such as a homeschool co-op book sale~and even shop on line and swap/borrow stuff...I'd look to the local group or I would ask you all to tell me...and I read your blogs and websites...


There are some~
  • Potential networking/friend making/resource ppl gathering
  • Actually LOOKING and TOUCHING products
  • Talking to vendors/experts
  • FREEbies/samples
  • Classes on techniques
  • An event for the whole family depending on the details planned.
There are some of these too~
  • Overwhelming (to me) Large place~LOTS of people however nice! (Just too much, imho!)
  • Expensive~often there is admission and travel/lodging
  • Crowds (if you don't care for them.)
  • NOISE~over stimulating for small children and some people
  • Potential to spend more than planned or succumb to sales pressure

Alternatives in my mind:
I'd like to think that conventions and conferences are a luxury~something some can afford...
  • Network within local homeschool group(s) for end of year sales/swaps
  • Online purchasing/research: You can ck out the TOS CREW HERE and other blogs for curriculum insights as well as vendor websites. (CK out my sidebars and the FREEbie/GiveAway tab for free stuff! I've done loads of product reviews too!) 
  • Comparing pricing online and in person.  Sometimes there is a difference!
  • Shopping secondary market~look at garage sales/thrift stores/used book stores for best prices: know your pricing and have a list of things you are 'looking for' so when you find it you can seize the opportunity.
  • Avail of coupons and special vendor pricing and curriculum store sales in your local area.  I recently purchased a workbook for just the price of the book w/o shipping when the vendor had it online at same price PLUS shipping. I saved about 1/2! Now, remember, I am trying to keep money IN my pocket~made no sense to pay the full price plus shipping when our local had it for the same w/o shipping!
  • Join up with the CREW~applications for nxt yr are being taken now~Go  HERE!
  • Online 'conventions' or group gatherings for home accessed web based conferences~there are quite a few that meet my needs for a variety of reasons ;-))
I could go on and on about how to get curriculum without a convention/larger venue, but for you who enjoy large events and loads of resources in one day or two~conventions are a good thing~

Thanks for stopping by~please leave me your thoughts on conventions and homeschooling conference~
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