Sunday, June 28, 2015

We Speak Your Names



Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Tywanza Sanders
Cynthia Hurd
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
Susie Jackson
Ethel Lance
Myra Thompson
Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor
Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr




We speak your names:

Kalief Browder

Tony Robinson

Anthony Hill


Naeschy Vinzant


Terrance Moxley


Charly Keundeu


Matthew Ajibade


Tim Elliott


John Paul Quintero


Adisha Miller


Alesia Thomas


Darnesha Harris


Delores Epps


Eleanor Bumpurs


Erica Collins


Heather Parker


Jacqueline Culp


Karen Day


Kendra James


Laporsha Watson


Mackala Ross


Pearlie Golden


Robin T. Williams


Sharmel Edwards


Shelly Frey


Shulena S. Weldon


Tyisha Miller


Rumain Brisbon


Tamir Rice


Akai Gurley


Kajimeme Powell


Ezell Ford


Dante Parker


Michael Brown


John Crawford, III


Tyree Woodson


Eric Gardner


Victor White, III


Yvette Smith


McKenzie Cochran


Jordan Baker


Andy Lopez


Miriam Carey


Jonanthan Ferrell


Carlos Alcis


Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr.


Deion Fludd


Kimani Gray


Johnnie Kamahi Warren


Malissa Williams


Timothy Russell


Reynaldo Cuevas


Chavis Carter


Shantel Davis


Sharmel Edwards


Tamon Robinson


Ervin Jefferson


Kendrec McDade


Rekia Boyd


Shereese Francis


Wendell Allen


Nehemiah Dillard


Dante Price


Raymond Allen


Manuel Loggins, Jr.


Ramarly Graham


Kenneth Chamberlain


Alonzo Ashley


Kenneth Harding


Raheim Brown


Reginald Doucet


Derrick Jones


Danroy Henry


Aiyana Jones


Steven Eugene Washington


Aaron Campbell


Kiwane Carrington


Victor Steen


Shem Walker


Oscar Grant


Tarika Wilson


Michael Ray Rodriguez


Kenneth Arnold Buck


Leslie Sapp, III


Hashim Hanif Ibn Abdul-Rasheed


Ronald Sneed


Brian Pickett


Andre Larone Murphy, Sr.


Omarr Jackson, Sr.


Artago Damon Howard


Alfontish Cockerham


Spencer Lee McCain

Tyrone Harris

Jermaine Benjamin

Tamara Siedle

Deng Manyoun

Fritz Severe

Isiah Hampton

QuanDavier Hicks

Demouria Hogg

Andrew Ellerbe

Sherman Byrd

Usaamah Rahim

Richard Gregory Davis

Kevin K. Allen

Kenneth Joel Dothard

James Edward Strong, Jr.

Dalton Branch

Anthony Dewayne Briggs


That's 120 people.
Men and women.
Gone.

I am exhausted.
There are still more names....

Are you tired?
Are you ready to do something?
It's time for each of us to get off the sidelines.


#BlackLivesMatter



Sources: Black Women Killed by Police, People of Color Killed by Police, Killed by Police,  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Freebie Friday



Here's a great site with a wonderful list of free STEM & STEAM resources. Take a look at it and let me know what you're liking.

Happy Friday!!  Enjoy your weekend.

Be well.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Weekly Intentions :: A Practice

Good Morning!  How have you been? How did your week go?

I must say that I accomplished everything and more on my list from last week.  It was simple and sweet--much like today's will be.

Here's a peek into some of what we got into last week together:

Staycation Week One  -- Done!




This week the kids and I will engage in another week of 'staycation' fun. We've already selected the activities we want to do and have invited friends to join in, if they can.

I will focus on:

  • daily meditation and quiet time
  • daily exercise
  • being present with my children (i.e. unplugging)
  • laughing
  • sharing through talking and listening
  • getting out of the house and enjoying life around us
  • completing a few of my reading projects (i'm reading books for me and reading some for my kids' book club for next year)

What is one thing that tops your list for this week? Share it below!! Yes, I want to know. :)

Wishing you just what you want/need this week--make it happen.

Be well.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Freebie Friday


Today I'm sharing a math resource for Middle School Level to High School Algebra 2.
Hop on over to Big Ideas Learning and check out all they have to offer.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Before You Throw Out Your Curriculum --- READ THIS!


I shared this a good while ago but think it can be helpful to anyone getting ready for a new homeschool year.  Click here to read more and gather tips to assist you in your planning.

Be well.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Weekly Intentions :: A Practice

Good Morning!


This week's list is short and sweet!

  • meditation & quiet time
  • daily exercise
  • read from summer reading list
  • laugh
  • be present & enjoy my children
  • say 'yes' to every opportunity to hang out with friends

What's on your intentional list for this week? Are you doing anything special for the summer? I hope that no matter what is on your list this week you'll make time for what matters most in your life--enjoying yourself and the people who make your life sweet.

Be well.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Freebie Friday



Another homeschooling mom shared these books with me and I thought you'd like to know about it too.

Here are the links:

Color Me Physics

Color Me Physics Activity Book

Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How to Plan 2.0 :: Tip #3 -- Take Inventory


Tip #3: Take Inventory

Now that you've evaluated what your children have learned--through personal reflection and tests (if applicable)--and taken time to complete your end of the year summary and record keeping procedures you can focus your attention on what you have and what you need for next term. Before running out to gather new or 'new to you' items, take inventory.

What supplies do you still have on hand?  What supplies need replacing? What supplies did not get used at all?

Are there books and/or resources you no longer need? Have you used everything you can from a specific resource? Are your children on a higher level and no longer need them? Do they cover topics you've completed?

Before getting rid of any items, evaluate their continued usefulness. Here are some tips to remind you how you can reuse what you already have: Before You Throw Out Your Curriculum...Read This!

Make a list of the supplies you will need for the coming year. Add these items to the list of things you have been making for the new year coming (yes, I know we all have these lists). :-)

Join me next week for Tip #4.

Be well.





Tuesday, June 2, 2015

5 Tips to Improve Your Time Management

Homeschooling can be challenging if you're struggling to manage your time. Truth be told none of us can actual 'make time'; we can only manage it in better ways.  Every family has its own rhythm--thus what works for one may not work for another.  Here are some general tips that can help each of us.

1. Prioritize
Something we all know but don't always do. Identify the people, activities and tasks that you want to give yourself to each day, week, month. Here on my blog I've started a weekly practice of intention setting. In practicing this each week, it has become a habit and we typically complete everything on our lists by setting our priorities.  Find a time each day/week where you can set your priorities and give your time to that.

2. Eliminate Time-Wasters
Within each of our daily schedules we will find activities that simply waste the time we have.  Some common time-wasters include TV, email, Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, books, magazines, and talking on the phone. None of these things are bad yet they can become distractions when we should be doing something else and eat up our time. Once you identify those that are taking up your time, cut them out. Or, perhaps a more realistic way to deal with them is to set a time for them.  For example, if you're an early riser, you may be able to check email and read blogs first thing--before the day is started with your family. For me, I typically do things either first thing or last thing.  I take a break in the middle of the day to check while we're doing lunch. One days when I keep to this schedule I find I have all the time I need.

3. Set Boundaries
Your time is valuable. Are you overcommitted? Have you said yes to activities in your homeschool group, church/mosque, community group, extended family? How much are you working? Have you agreed to tasks that are putting a strain on your time and your family's? If you are overbooked in activities and responsibilities outside of your home it becomes nearly impossible to take care of things within your home without a lot of undo stress.  Set boundaries. Saying no may feel uncomfortable at the beginning but it will free you up to do the things you really want to say yes to.

4. Cut Out Unnecessary Tasks
Are there things on your 'To Do List' that you don't actually need to be doing? For example, are you doing the lion share of cleaning around your house? Can your spouse/partner or children join you in those tasks or take them over? Would creating a weekly schedule for laundry work better for your use of time instead of doing it daily? Identify tasks that others can help you with--and let them do it! You may find much more time by spreading your load and focusing on your priorities.

5. Continue Personal Development
When we use our time for personal growth and development--learning something new and/or giving our time to what we enjoy--we find that we have time and energy to give to all the other responsibilities. Challenging ourselves mentally and physically makes for a better emotional state and can add a breath of fresh air to all those mundane tasks we must do to keep life moving forward.

An added bonus:
Children learn best from good examples. By being intentional in the way we manage our time we'll also be teaching our children to do that same.  Something we all want.

What else would you add to this list? Please comment below.  Thanks.

Be well.

Monday, June 1, 2015

How to Afford Homeschooling

I am reposting an article I wrote a while back for anyone interested in homeschooling and finding out just how to afford it.  During a recent discussion with several newbies, I decided to share it again for their benefit and yours.  Click the link below to read it. I ask that if you have found something in addition to what's shared here, that you add it in the comment section.  Thanks so much!



How Can I Afford Homeschooling?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weekly Intentions :: A Practice

Today is rather dreary and rainy here. I'm thankful for the rain as it clears the air of pollen. However, this type of weather also makes it more difficult to get out of bed.

I've taken the time to update our family dry-erase calendar. It's the last day of May and so I've decided to go ahead and get June up so we can plan our week.



Here are some of the people and tasks I'm going to make time for this week beginning:

  • Myself--making time for meditation, reading, exercise, writing and creating
  • My family--making time to talk/listen, share stories/thoughts/ideas, prepare meals together, laugh, create
  • My friends--we have plans to gather again this week
  • My community--I will be leading two planning sessions this week with the families in my intentional homeschooling space.
  • My home--continuing on the organizing, cleaning and purging path.  (I'm taking manageable steps each day!)
For whom and what will you make time this week? Share one or two items from your list below. I'd love to hear how things are coming along for you.

Be well.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Freebie Friday



This is a freebie for those local to Georgia.  Get Georgia Reading is an initiative to get every kid in Georgia reading through the summer months. Children will have access to 8,000 books. These books are online and you can either read them yourself or have them read to you (there's an audio option).  How awesome is that?

Here are the steps to access this site for free:
1.  Got to myOn.com
2. Click the red Log in now button
3. Enter School Name, "Get Georgia Reading, Georgia Campaign for Grade-Level Reading" (Note: do not cut and paste, instead start typing "Get Georgia" and select the school from the drop down menu.)
4. Enter Username: read
5. Enter Password: read
6. Select a book and start reading

Check back next Friday for another Freebie.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How to Plan 2.0 :: Tip 2


This week's tip: Record Keeping.

Now that you've taken time to evaluate where your children are after this year of learning, you'll want to add this information to your records.

Begin by following the procedure your state requires for record keeping.

Here in Georgia, the state requires this:

  1. The instructor shall write an annual progress assessment report in each required subject area for each student. These reports shall be retained for at least three years.
Find that laws for your state by searching '[state name] homeschooling laws' or something close. You should be taken to your state's department of education.  Each state varies on this so make sure you know what's required.

Every year I write a summary for each of the subject areas the children and I have covered. I do this by looking back at my goals from the beginning of the year, looking over the lessons we've covered and experiences we've had around each of the subjects. After spending time evaluating, it pretty simple to do this.

As they have gotten older, I have enlisted their assistance in some of the record keeping I do throughout the year. For example, we keep a running list of all books we've read, listened to during family reading time and listened to online or on CD. They each have their own notebooks they record in. I simply copy them into my record keeping journal for each year.  My eldest now types hers and emails it to me.

Another example is field trips. As we take them, we record them and write a brief summary of what we encountered and learned.  This, too, goes into my record keeping journal.  Any pictures we may have taken are also added.

Because our state has such little requirements for record keeping, I have begun to add a bit more to this.  In thinking about what each of my children is interested in doing as they get older, we have started portfolios containing samples of their work to show interest, growth and mastery. As we look at what the future may hold--colleges/universities they may attend, I'm also collecting and documenting their growth in ways that these institutions are looking to see from homeschooling students.  (This varies from college to college--it's important to start reading up on and speaking to college reps to get a good handle on just what these items are and how they'd like to see them presented.)

I have looked into a few online options for record keeping.  While I find that it's less paper to hold onto (when using online options), I haven't found one that I'm totally in love with. So, at present, I write out most of these and keep it in composition notebook with all the plans/goals for that particular year.  Looking back I have a good number of these books that I keep in a file cabinet. I can quickly look back over our goals, lessons and find the summaries at the end.  Presently, this is working well.

I would suggest that you find a record keeping system that works for your style. If you're brand new to homeschooling or just looking for a few more options, you can take a look at this collection on my Homeschool Organization board

How are you keeping your records presently? What is working well for you? Are there any changes you'd like to make? Leave a comment below and share what you're using.

Join me next Wednesday for another tip in Planning Your Year Anew: How to Plan 2.0.

Be well.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Weekly Intentions :: A Practice

Good Day to each of you. Thanks for stopping by and reading. I hope that you're well and that this weekend is just what it needs to be for you.

The past week has been full.  I'm exhausted! We celebrated several milestones in the lives of some dear family and friends--graduations, to be specific.  We held our first homeschool graduation in our community this year. The ceremony was simple and beautiful. Everything came together better than we'd hoped. From there we attended two other graduation ceremonies and celebrated in spirit with five other dear friends.  This is the time of endings and beginnings.  My children are now imagining how their milestones will be celebrated. (smile)


This week I'm being intentional about these people/relationships, practices and tasks.
  • Quiet time, meditation, prayer
  • Daily reading time for myself
  • Give time to writing
  • Assist a friend in packing for a move.
  • Meeting my cohort to plan for our homeschool community's 2015-2016 year.
  • Meeting with my librarian to schedule workshops for the fall.
  • Continue planning for my children.  I've made a lot of headway with regards to their studies, classes, activities and want to line a few more things up.
  • Connect with family/friends to solidify summer plans
  • Continue with general organization of our home
  • Get outside for daily exercise and fun
  • Gather some friends for a pool date

To whom/what will you give your time, energy and attention this week? Stop now and make your list. Then move through this week with that intention.  Sure, everything won't always turn out the way you'd hoped. But I can assure you that you'll get more of the things completed if you're intentional about it.  Add it to your calendar; make a list and post it; do whatever you need to remind yourself and keep yourself aware of what it is you'd like to do. Thanks for allowing me to encourage you in this practice.

Have a wonderful week!

Be well.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Freebie Friday


I've been looking for art resources that take us a bit further than we've done before.  There are loads of ideas and lessons on Pinterest (for those of you who are there already, i'm sure you're quite aware). I came across this and it looks like a good option as it ties into some of the history lessons we've had or will have. This site boasts of art lessons, design lessons and art appreciation. Take a look when you have a moment: Arty Factory.

Have you come across a freebie that you'd like to share with us? Leave the name/link below in the comment section.

Happy Freebie Friday!

Enjoy the weekend and be well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How to Plan 2.0



Welcome back!  If you're at the beginning of your homeschool journey you may be interested in the first series: How To Plan.  If you're just joining in today and want the first tip, click here.

Now that we've gotten that little housekeeping out of the way (smile), let's jump right in.

The first tip I offered was about taking time to evaluate where you and your children are.  This second tip is in relationship to that task. I'll call it Tip 1.5: Administering and Reviewing Test Scores. For those of us who live in states that require testing, now is a good time to review the scores and analysis they can offer about what your children have learned and what they need more practice on. 

There are a lot of thoughts about whether to test, which tests to use, etc. I will offer you some of the popular tests homeschooling families use. 

I will preface this topic by saying that testing is only one part of evaluation. Whatever test you choose you must remember that it is just a snapshot of what your child did on that particular day the test was given. There are also different kinds of tests--achievement tests, norm reference tests and aptitude tests. Each serves a purpose. Knowing what you're looking to find out about your children will help guide you to the test that will be most meaningful for your evaluation.

Achievement Tests: This type of test measures the knowledge and skills your children have acquired over a set time (school year, three-year period, etc.). They are level specific, for the most part, and/or subject specific and can be used as a tool to look back over the year to see what your children acquired during that time. I have found them to be the most useful when planning for future lessons. 

Norm Reference Tests: As the name suggests, these tests compare your child to other children in the country--whether your immediate region or the entire population.  These tests offer insight in how your child measures up with the general standards of children in the same grade, across the country. If you are only homeschooling for a set amount of time with hopes of getting your children back into traditional school (public or private), these tests will be helpful in making sure you're keeping up with everyone else.  On the other hand, if knowing how your children measure up against the rest isn't important to you then you might not find the results of these tests useful.

Aptitude Tests: These tests attempt to make predictions on how well your children will do. They can focus on problem solving, mathematical ability, language development and then seek to project how well your children will do in said skills. There is great debate over this type of testing.  Many people question its validity and accuracy.

Here are some commonly used tests:

A quick note about testing in general: 
  1. Read up on them. (The links I've shared above are one of several that came up during a basic google search. With regards to pricing, you may find better options going through a testing and/or curriculum site.) 
  2. Know their dates for testing and deadlines for signing up. 
  3. Prepare your children for them (this by no means mimic the public school system!). You can prepare them a week in advance by simply going over how to complete the test, teaching a few test taking skills and even giving them timed review of lessons you've covered.  A simple test-taking skill book should suffice. 
  4. Know when you will receive the scores.

If you're already using a test and like it, do take a moment to comment below and add to what I've shared it. 

With technology as it is now, many of these tests can be found online and the turn around time in receiving the results is lessened.  

So now what do you do to figure out which tests will work for your children?
  • Determine what you want to know about your children's learning. 
  • Find out what your state requires regarding testing (how often? starting year? specific test?). Then do a bit of research on it.  This could be further reading on the kind of testing as well as a specific test. I have found that online homeschool groups can offer you a great deal of insight.  You can find out the pros and cons before making the financial investment.  
  • Choose a test and take it.

Once you have the results back, use what the test found out to inform your planning.  For example, if your child needs improvement in vocabulary skills you'll want to make sure that as you plan your lessons you focus on this.  You might look for online resources the will help your child build their vocabulary.  Perhaps your child needs additional assistance in mathematical operations like long division.  In knowing this you can review and/or reteach these lessons going forward.  Remember, test scores are only tools to help you better serve your child.  I would suggest that you look more at the analysis offered by them than the actual number score.

I'd love to hear from you regarding your experiences with testing so far.  Are you new to the whole thing? Have you been testing for years and use a specific test and love it? No matter, your feedback would be awesome.  Plus, those reading this will welcome more insight.

I'll look for you next Wednesday when I'll share with you another tip/reminder as you plan your new homeschool year.

Be well.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weekly Intentions :: A Practice

Good Morning!

Today is a pretty full day for me--not something I typically do on a Sunday. It's graduation season and we have several to attend this week.  The first one being that of a homeschooling student in our community--who has become more like family over the years.

There are clothes to lay out, hair to do and general prep of that sort (cards to sign, gifts to wrap, etc.). I have been working on an on-going project over the last two months now of getting organized.  It's such a huge job that it can be overwhelming at times.  This is why I've been taking it a little bit each day.  I am making great progress.  I can finally see a dent in things. (smile) I have to keep reminding myself that I am doing just fine at this pace--that it's not a race.

We're also coming to the end of our homeschool community's time together. This week we'll celebrate our accomplishments and break for summer vacation.  It's a well needed break--for me, anyway. As a leader/facilitator, planning and executing require a good amount of energy.  I'm looking forward to being 'off.' (bigger smile!)


So here are my intentions for this week beginning:

  • Prep for graduations/celebrations
  • Continue with homeschool organization for next term (for my children)
  • Continue with household organization
  • Create new job charts for the children--every so many months we rotate chores/responsibilities
  • Request assistance from grandparents in securing family memberships to local attractions
  • Set up summer schedule for the children
  • Meal plan for week/month
  • quiet time/meditation
  • exercise
  • reading

How will you use your time this week? With whom will you spend it? What things will you work to get done? Take a moment to make your list. Share one or two below. 

Wishing you each well in this new week and hope that things turn out better for you than expected.

Be well.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Freebie Friday


Another homeschooling parent shared this site with me today. I've never heard of it or used it before but have signed up the children. I'll be having them take the placement test in a bit and we'll see how things go.  I'm hopeful! (smile)

Here's the information you'll need:

MobyMax offers a complete curriculum for K-8 levels to assist students needing additional practice or seeking to advance in their studies. It's offering homeschooling families FREE access to their site. Parents need to set up an account before adding students. Select 'homeschool' and use code mc147 when logging in. Here' the link: MobyMax

Once you've set up a parent account, you can add as many students as necessary--great for larger families. The site will generate user names and passwords; you can adjust if needed. Students take a placement test first then lessons become available.

Hope this helps someone!

Be well.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thankful Thursday


Good Morning!

It's Thursday and time for us to pause for just a moment to intentionally make a mental list of people and things we are thankful for today.  Here's a few that I'll share in writing:

children who do their best (most of the time)
hugs from my boy
friends who enjoy the things I do
early morning awakenings listening to birds
the cool breeze blowing through my windows
being needed and wanted
impromptu change in plans
fruit--oranges, to be specific (smile)
breakfast made by a chef (yes, I'm eating it now)
coffee
milestones and celebrations

For what are you thankful today? Take a moment to think about it and use those things to motivate you into a positive space.

Be well.

Monday, May 11, 2015

HE MADE IT!!! HE MADE IT!!!

Thanks to each of you who took a moment out of your day to head over the Facebook and LIKE my son's LEGO creation.  We received the official news today:


The new members of our 2015-2016 Creative Crew are….  
Alexander, Andres, Barrett, Brooke, Bryce, Caleb, Eric, Finley, Izzy, John, Krish, Landyn, Melvin and Rowyn!
Congratulations everyone! We will be emailing you all soon. Thank you to everyone who entered and voted! All of the entries were awesome! 

Again, thank you for your support of my son. He is thrilled and looking forward to learning and growing with this new experience.

Happy Monday!

10 Tips for Preparing for Homeschool Conferences & Expos

It's time to prepare for homeschool convention season. How many of you have already purchased your tickets?

Now's the time to start planning for next year and conferences, conventions and expos all assist in bringing new resources and ways of thinking to homeschooling families around the country. Here are 10 tips to assist you as you get ready to attend.

Tip #1: Know Your Family's Goals
What are your family's goals for homeschooling? Why are you homeschooling and to what end? What subjects and topics are important for you to cover with your children? What specific lessons will you be doing in the new year? These are just a few questions you should ask yourself to help you hone in on what you are doing with regards to homeschooling.

Attending conferences and conventions will definitely help you expand your ideas, but take time to know where you're beginning. Make a like of what's important to you, to your children. Talk it over with your spouse or partner. Make sure the two of you are on the same page. This one step will help you identify information and resources that will be meaningful to you and your family.

Tip #2: Know Your Children's Learning Style(s)
How best do your children learn? Do they prefer listening or reading? Are they content with sitting for a good bit of time working independently or do they like moving, talking and interacting with others? Do they like to manipulate and handle tools or do they like to mull thoughts over in their mind before responding and coming up with new ideas?

Learning styles are not clear cut, yet understanding how best your children learn will assist you as you listen to suggestions and browse through curriculum and resource options.  Why purchase something that doesn't match the way your children learn? It will be more of a headache for all involved and you'll end up wasting your money.

Watch your children. Pay attention to what brings them alive as you learn and work together. Take note of their interests, their strengths and challenges. Knowing these things before heading to a convention will guide you as you weed through the overwhelmingness of all your options and get right to what your family needs.

Talk with others during the conventions and expos to see what curricula works best for children who are auditory learners or more kinesthetic learners, etc. Listen to others who have found things that work for their children who learn similar to yours. Let the information you gather inform your purchases.

Tip #3: Have a Plan
Know your reason for attending. Are you going to look through curriculum options up close and personal? Are you wanting to speak with an author or publisher (or their rep) directly to better understand their methods? Are you going to hear a particular speaker? Are you going to meet other like-minded homeschoolers in your area? Are you just curious and want to see what all the hype is about?

Knowing your purpose for attending can assist you in remaining on track so as not to be overwhelmed at the larger conventions. It can guide you through the smaller ones too.

Tip #4: Have a Budget
This is key. Many a family has broken their budget because they didn't have one. If you're new to homeschooling, speak to an experienced homeschooling parent or two to find out just how much they typically spend over the course of a year.

Know for what you are looking. Research now the typical price points for the items on your list. Deals and discounts are often offered during conventions and expos--so they are typically the time to make your purchases. However, be wise about it. Can you find the same resource at a used book sale or online store? Does your local library offer a similar resource for free? Everything at a convention is meant to draw your attention and encourage you to buy it. By having a list of the items you're looking for along with a budget, you can leave with peace of mind with regards to your spending.

Tip #5: Go Ready to Learn Something New
All the previous tips focus on the importance of knowing where you and your children are and being willing to hold onto those things in a way that keeps them priority.  Yet, you will want to make sure you remain open to learning new ways for approaching and teaching the subjects and topics on your lists. This could be from a speaker/presenter during a workshop or from another homeschooling parent who is willing to share their experiences as your browse through convention halls.

Look and listen. Ask questions. There are many ways of homeschooling. In attending, you may be surprised to find out another way of reaching your children that may work better than what you'd thought or planned thus far. Be open to this. (Why not carry a notebook to jot down the suggestions and tips you receive for reference and review later?)

Tip #6: Take Your Time
Take your time--plan now to spend a full day (or two) so that you have ample time to browse, ask questions, get the answers to your questions and attend workshops. You don't want to feel rushed, as this often causes stress, especially to those of you who will be experiencing your first one this year.  There will be crowds, so you'll want to account for this. You may also have to wait to talk to a speaker or vendor. If you aren't planning to stay the entire time, you can sometimes miss these opportunities. Even if you end up leaving early, plan to use the time you do have wisely.

Tip #7: Bring a Rolling Cart/Tote
Rolling carts/totes are better to carry the items that you purchase. There is nothing like lugging a heavy tote bag on your shoulder through a convention hall. It will make for a much more pleasant experience, trust me on this. You can find rolling totes at most office type stores. You will be glad that you have it instead of having to use your back and shoulders.

Tip #8: Plan for Your Children
Homeschool Conventions and Expos can be a lot to take in. If you can attend without your children, plan to do so. You will want to take your time while browsing so you can accurately identify the resources that match your family's style and goals. It can be challenging when you have little ones, and even older ones, chattering at you.

This may not be feasible for everyone, so here are a few ideas on how to approach it:

  • Bring an older homeschooled child with you who can assist you with your children (like a mother's helper).
  • Some conventions/expos offer a children's program. Find out now about them and the costs. Sign your children up for them. They usually coincide with the workshop schedule.
  • Bring your partner/spouse and 'double team' the kids. When you want to speak with a curriculum rep, workshop speaker or another homeschooling parent your partner/spouse can manage the children and vice versa.
  • Plan to attend with another family and take turns with the children.

If you do plan to take your children with you, be sure to set clear expectations with them. But also, be realistic. Children should not be expected to be silent the entire time. Bring snacks and water. Bring activities they can do quietly while you attend workshops. Plan for necessary bathroom breaks and lunch. This will help both you and your children get the most out of the experience.

Each year I secure a babysitter and plan a fun day for my children at home while I attend conferences and conventions. Last year was my first time taking my older two to the second day of an expo. I wanted them to see what it was like and what I had been looking at purchasing for them. I allowed both of them to pick out something that went along with one of the topics we'd be covering. We had previously talked about what it would be. That experience went well and I will probably do it again this year.

Regardless of what you decide to do--plan for your children.

Tip #9: Bring Your Lists
As previously shared, knowing your family's goals and budget for homeschooling will greatly assist you in determining what resources you'll be on the look out for during conferences. Knowing how your children learn and what subjects you'll be covering will help you navigate all the information that you'll be presented with during workshops along with all the resources/curriculum you'll see in an exhibition hall.

I suggest making two lists.  The first should include what you're wanting to make sure do, find out about or look at prior to leaving the conference.  Here's an example:

  • Look for 6th Grade Science Curriculum
  • Speak with a rep from a college campus
  • Look for handwriting curriculum for 2nd grade
  • Attend a workshop about how to teach the writing process
  • Speak with [specific speaker] about how to implement a schedule
  • Compare prices of [specific textbook]; ask about discounts
The second list can include what you're looking to purchase based on their budget and research. It should also include the items you want to make sure you walk out with. Here's an example:
  • Handwriting paper for cursive writing
  • Specimens for dissection
  • Laminated wall map
  • 3rd Grade Math Workbook
  • Application for homeschool sports team
As you navigate through an exhibition hall, do take time to look, listen, ask questions and learn. However, don't forget what you're there for. Lists are a great way to make sure you've done what you've set out to accomplish. It will keep you on track.

Tip #10: Take a Positive Attitude
The final tip is simple and will assist you as you encounter others while attending workshops, maneuvering around crowded booths and browsing through resources.

As with pregnancy, you are bound to encounter unsolicited advice from a stranger or two. Take it in stride and be gracious. If you're able to be in a positive place, you may find something useful in what was shared.

Check out lines can be long. Having a positive attitude while waiting will come in handy.

Popular workshops can fill up quickly. Seats may be held for others who have yet to come in. You may have to stand in the back or may even miss attending one due to the overwhelming interest. A positive attitude is good to hold onto in this event.

But not only that, being in a positive space will allow you to offer your advice, tips and experience to others who may be feeling unsure, hesitant or apprehensive. You can give the reassuring smile or knowing look to someone else who may not be as prepared as you are and feeling overwhelmed.  Think how much they may appreciate your encouragement and positiveness in the midst of it all.

I hope that these ten tips will assist you in making this year's convention season a good one. Planning, of course, is key--knowing what you're looking for is important and being positive is essential.

What tips would you add to this list? Please share them below. 

Have you had any experiences attending conferences that would assist another parent in planning or being better prepared? I'd love to hear them as would my readers.

Thanks for stopping by today, reading and commenting.

Be well.

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