Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Surviving at the Homeschool Convention

It's time for the annual trip to the CHAP fair - a huge homeschool fair and conference up in Harrisburg.  I love it.  I'm not sure how many times I've been, but I look forward to it every spring.  The speakers are always fantastic, and the shopping - oh, my, the shopping!

Every year, I also talk to at least one homeschooling friend who is terrified to go to the fair.  Maybe terrified isn't the right word, but it comes close.  And it definitely can be overwhelming.  So here are my tips for negotiating the homeschool fair, wherever yours may be.

  1. Make a list.  If you know what you're there to buy, and you have a price range, you'll know when to buy and when to walk on by.  You're also less likely to buy lots of stuff you don't need.
  2. Don't be rude.  Don't stand in front of a vendor and look for cheaper prices online with your cell phone.  If you absolutely must price compare, do it somewhere else.
  3. Make a budget.  Yes, you're only there to buy next year's curriculum.  But when you pass that used book booth or you see the perfect birthday/Christmas/Mother's Day gift, you need to know ahead of time what you can afford.
  4. If your children are coming, give them a budget also.  I guarantee there will be lots of toys, both educational and otherwise, and knowing ahead of time what they can spend will make it easier on everyone.
  5. Schedule your seminars.  Look at the list of speakers online ahead of time and know which seminars you absolutely don't want to miss.  Last year, I thought I would buy the CDs of the ones I missed, but I didn't.  I'd much rather hear the speakers in person.
  6. Plan on eating.  At CHAP, they don't allow food inside the complex, so I either have to have cash for the concessions or pack food in the car and go outside for lunch.  This year it's supposed to be raining, so lunch in the car might not be the best choice.
  7. If you're shopping, bring a suitcase.  Or something on wheels.  Trust me, it gets difficult carrying your purchases around in a bag.  And if you don't have a longsuffering husband like mine who's willing to drag everything out to the car periodically, you will regret not having something rollable.
  8. Relax.  If you get tired, or just overwhelmed, take a little while to sit down.  If you feel like leaving, go ahead and leave.  No one's judging.
I'll see you all at the fair!