From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


4/21/2011 10:05:52 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter--April 2011

HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter
April 2011--Getting the Most Out of Your Homeschool Convention

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Many state or regional conventions are not just for homeschoolers, but
are truly family expositions, with lots of workshops and exhibits of
interest to families--regardless of education choice. If this is your
first or second (or tenth) homeschool convention, it is easy to be
overwhelmed by the enormity of the exhibit hall and the long list of
workshops. Instead of resigning yourself to breathing into a paper bag
to avoid hyperventilation, here are some helpful tips:

What to do BEFORE the convention:

Pre-register, if possible. This will save you money, time, and stress.
See your state organization's website or convention brochure for
registration information. If this is not workable, you can sometimes
still register at the door, although the fee may be higher.

Read all the pre-convention info on the organization's website. (See

Determine your purpose in attending. Are you looking for curriculum? Musical instruments? College
admission info? Life skills helps? Encouragement for yourself? Just
want to see what's available, to touch and see it all "up close and
personal"? Or maybe you've been looking forward to asking the author
how to best use the material you have. Want to pick up a few fun
family games? Perhaps you need some books to augment a unit study, or
to build your home library. And those workshops all sound so inviting!
Looking ahead to high school, or checking out some relaxed options for
your younger ones? Or maybe you simply want to bask in the company of
thousands of others who will reassure you that your children can
succeed if you do this!

Whatever your focus, be sure to allocate your time accordingly. Make a
written list of priorities, because once you walk into that building,
even the best intentions can get lost in the excitement!

Develop a plan. Determine in advance what time you will leave the
house (well, you can at least aim for that), where you'll park, how
much time you'll devote to in-service training and encouragement
(A.K.A. workshops), and how much time you will spend in the exhibit

If you are new to homeschooling, research some of your options. Will you use a packaged
curriculum to get started? Or will you choose various books and games
that fit into your plan? Are there some subjects that you can teach to
all the children at one time in a multi-level approach? Do you prefer the security and
continuity of a traditional textbook approach, or do you like the idea
of an integrated unit study approach? Maybe the patriotism of the
principle approach excites you, or possibly your maternal instincts go
into overdrive when you read about Charlotte Mason's gentler approach
to learning. As you read, you may find that the classical approach
sounds like what you equate with homeschooling, or maybe you are
attracted to the relaxed approach of studying what is of interest in
your family at the moment.

Feel free to borrow and re-arrange from all these different
approaches; they are not
mutually exclusive. That's one of the wonderful benefits of
homeschooling--you can create a custom curriculum!

Your state resource center (or your favorite catalog!) carries lots of
resources to help you think through your teaching preferences, your
children's learning styles,
and the materials that would best suit your family . Several good "basics"
volumes include "Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool
Curriculum," Robin Sampson's
"Heart of Wisdom," Clay and
Sally Clarkson's "Educating the WholeHearted Child," and Mary Pride's "Guide to
Getting Started in Homeschooling."

Concerned that you're "covering the bases"? Take a peek at Sampson's "What
Your Child Needs to Know When"
--and be sure to read the first half to get her perspective on why and
how we do what we do, then glean from the K-8th skills checklists

Make a wish list. Make a list of the items in which you are most
interested--based on the goals
you have set for your children--with several alternative selections
noted; having a second or third choice pre-selected helps me to think
quickly. I make a list of all the topics we are covering this year in
our units, so I can stay focused on my more immediate needs, and I can
better resist the temptation to snatch up a bargain that won't really
be useful to me for another year or two.

Specific titles are very useful, if possible. One year I accidentally
purchased three copies of the same well-known science book because the
publisher had changed the cover several times and I didn't recognize
the title as a book I had already purchased!

Remember items such as a homeschool planner, art supplies, educational
games, and other non-traditional "curriculum" items.

Determine your budget . This
is a biggie. Know what you can afford and stick to it.

Mark your schedule in advance. Print the online schedule or use the
schedule-at-a-glance that may arrive in your confirmation packet
before the convention. In each time slot, highlight the workshop most
beneficial to you. Be sure to mark off exhibit hall shopping times, if
needed, and be prepared to pick up a few CDs of the workshops you
can't get to (or better yet, get the MP3 of the entire convention if
it is available, so you can review the great material you heard!).

If your children will be accompanying you, notice where your workshops
are in relation to their program room, if there is a children's
program, and be sure to plan to pick them up for lunch!

Pray for the convention staff, the speakers, exhibitors, and other
attendees, as well as for your own decisions, safe travel, etc.

Make any last-minute preparations for any family members you are not
taking with you, including meals, instructions for preparation,
emergency numbers, and other needs.

Be packed the day before. (See sidebar for ideas.)

What to do AT the convention:

Pay attention to where you parked your car. There may be several
parking garages--notice where you enter the convention center from the
parking garage or street.

Check in at the registration table. Be sure to pick up any name tags
or holders, maps, programs, restaurant lists, and audio recording
order forms.

Look through your convention program. It's not just "for looks"; it's
chock-full of helpful info, most likely including a workshop
schedule-at-a-glance and a facility map. Take a few minutes to read
about the hours, lost-and-found, info tables, and more. At some point,
read it more thoroughly!

You may want to transfer your brought-from-home schedule notes to this
program for ease of use and to check any last-minute room
changes--those don't happen often, but it's always a possibility.

In the exhibit hall, I recommend that you make your first pass through
without the wallet accessible! Take notes on what is where, then come
back through and make your purchases. Of course, if you think
something is a great find, it may not be there later and you must
judge if it is worth a first-pass purchase. If there is a book-and-bag
check for your convenience, it can be a lifesaver!

The exhibitors go to great lengths (and expense) to be there for you;
in many cases, you are actually talking with the author of the book or
developer of the material. If an exhibitor spends his time to answer
your questions or explain various programs to you, please consider the
value of his time/expertise and purchase from him rather than
automatically making a purchase elsewhere to save a dollar.

In the workshops, turn your cell phone off or to "vibrate," and seat
yourself near an exit if you have a baby with you. Because the
workshops are probably recorded, it is courteous to temporarily leave
the room if your baby makes noise (happy or sad) or if you must take a
call. If you must exit or enter after the workshop has begun, please
be careful not to let the door slam. If a workshop seems full, it is
also helpful to scoot in along the row so the outer seats will be more
accessible to latecomers.

Your workshop evaluations are very important to the coordinators.
Please be as specific as possible in your suggestions,
recommendations, praise, and criticism.

Join your state organization .
If you aren't already a member, consider joining to support
homeschooling in your state. (And of course, join HSLDA !)

Order CDs of workshops you were unable to attend (or really enjoyed
and would like to review). If it is available, an MP3 of the full
convention is a great value!

Consider volunteering. Even an hour or two of your time will be a
great blessing to the convention! Check at the volunteer table or the
state organization table for needs.

Make new friends (and renew old acquaintances). If you are new, the
other newcomers don't know if you are new or a veteran, so smile

Turn in your evaluation forms and your name tag holder before leaving.

What to do AFTER the convention:

Look through any goodie bags you received (and to which you probably
added all weekend!). Note the deadlines of any special offers or

Consider sending a thank-you e-mail or note to those who made the
weekend possible. If you have words of praise or polite criticism, be
as specific as possible; your comments are very important and help the
coordinators plan for the following year.

Start setting aside a few dollars each month for next year's

Hey, be sure to stop by the HSLDA booth to say hello. (And take
advantage of our special conference pricing!)

Enthusiastically yours,

Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Early Years consultant



"Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded
themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with
the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword
girded at his side as he built." --Nehemiah 4:17-18 (NKJV)

What to look for on the convention website:

> Registration information
> Biographies of the speakers with their Web addresses
> A session-by-session list of the workshops with descriptions
> Exhibit hall hours
> A list of the exhibitors, including websites so you can check them
out in advance
> Hours of any special events
> Children's program hours, ages, prices, description, and
instructions, if applicable
> Hotel information
> Local restaurant info
> Parking information
> Volunteer opportunities
> Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on virtually everything

A few things to bring with you:

> Directions to the convention center (print from the site)
> Cash for parking
> Comfortable shoes. You'll do lots of walking!
> Layered clothing. The air conditioning temperature varies by room.
> Change for the book-and-bag check. The stuff gets heavy. Consider
buying a bringing a fold-up rolling cart if your facility allows them
(put your name on it!).
> Address labels for mailing lists, drawings, etc. I like to use those
little "freebie" labels that I receive in the mail from charities.
> Snacks to leave in your room or car. Some convention centers do not
allow "outside" food in the facility, so be sure of the rules.
> Notebook and pen/pencil
> A roomy, easy-to-carry purse or tote (or fanny pack)
> Your wish list
> Your schedule
> Your registration confirmation letter (not required, but helpful)
> Hotel confirmation info, if applicable
> Money
> State organization membership card, if applicable

Buying used curriculum? Read "Navigating the Used Curriculum Route."

-> Is customer service an art or a science?

For us, good customer service is both an art and a science
-it should appeal to our members and be effective. Consider what
our members say about us:

The freedom HSLDA allows me to have as I homeschool is wonderful!
They handle the law and I get to dedicate the time to my daughter.
- National City, CA

HSLDA members since 1993, our membership is just as important to
us as our children's curriculum. Thank you HSLDA for all you do on
our behalf! - West Valley, NY

More reasons to join HSLDA...

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