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jab300
05-19-2010, 09:49 AM
I found a small convention in nearby Mobile, Al and I am going this Saturday! Been homeschooling 11 years now and this is my first convention lol. The big one in Florida is in Orlando and I have always wanted to go, but it's $85 to get in and I could never justify that. Anyway, this convention will have speakers and workshops and a used booksale and everything, but it's only one day...not sure how I'm going to fit in everything I want to do. If I go to all the speakers and workshops I want to (there is one on using unit studies, one on using games for math and one on using games in general) it will take up the whole day! I figure I'll need at least an hour to browse the booksale and vendors...guess I'll bring a pb&j and banana in my bag and eat lunch while I learn lol. Can you tell I'm excited? Any advice from seasoned convention goers is appreciated. ;)

pandahoneybee
05-19-2010, 10:56 AM
First Make a BUDGET for everything and PACE yourself! The first one I went to I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to see and do everything. Pick the speakers and workshops that you most want to hear and if you have the time work the others in. My weakest was for the used book sales, I always spent way over what I needed to and even picked some stuff that looked interesting until I got it home. So I always now make a list of what I am looking for and only bring what I have budgeted for the sale everything else stays in the car or hotel room!

Hope this helps and HAVE FUN, its like Christmas for homeschooling parents!

Firefly_Mom
05-19-2010, 11:49 AM
I agree with pandahoneybee - it can be quite tempting to see all of those goodies ;) If you tend to go a little overboard in that department (like me!), bring cash instead of a debit/credit card. I set a budget, and then bring an extra $20, just in case...

Shoe
05-19-2010, 11:55 AM
I agree with the posters who replied before me. It's very easy to go overboard buying stuff that looks great at the time. Some of it doesn't look quite as good when you get it home. And I second the idea of bringing cash rather than a debit/credit card-it allows you to keep track of exactly what you're spending (something I'm not so good at doing).

I attended a small conference in NH a few months ago, run by an inclusive homeschooling organization, and found it very helpful for a newbie to homeschooling like me.

Snoopy
05-19-2010, 11:55 AM
I only attend FPEA once and I agree with Michelle's advice! Research the price of what you might want to buy beforehand because I found that buying at the convention did NOT guarantee that I was getting the best prices. Also, some vendors will mail you the materials so don't think that you'll be coming home with everything to "play with" right away. Enjoy your workshops!!

BPier12
05-19-2010, 01:27 PM
I only attend FPEA once

Nathalie,

I've been debating whether or not to go to FPEA this year. Looking over the catalogue of speakers/vendors, it seems that the vast majority is faith-based. I'm leery about spending the $80.00 to get in only to find that I can't/won't use most of what is on display. What was your experience like when you went?

Snoopy
05-19-2010, 02:58 PM
I've been debating whether or not to go to FPEA this year. Looking over the catalogue of speakers/vendors, it seems that the vast majority is faith-based. I'm leery about spending the $80.00 to get in only to find that I can't/won't use most of what is on display. What was your experience like when you went?

Hey Beth, I went to FPEA only once and I think it was 3 years ago. Back then I was an FPEA member so I think my badge only cost me $30 or $40 and I only attended the convention on the Saturday so DH could stay home with Noah. Back then I thought it had been worth my while since I was still new at homeschooling using a formal curriculum (instead of putting it together on my own) and I was eager to hear from speakers about different resources and advice on how to use them.

I have to say that I was disappointed that there wasn't more offered that was secular (and it's worse now, the main reason why I haven't gone back) and of those 4 or 5 seminars that I attended that weren't explicitely advertised as being religious, at least 3 had an opening prayer and praise to God remarks throughout. I was very annoyed to tell you the truth. Of course, that was my experience, which isn't to say yours would be the same, but I would really question spending $80 and the travel time and hotel room if you were to spend the weekend here, to hear religious content that you might not interested in hearing. For example I'm looking at the Friday schedule right now and the workshop "Gospel for Asia" is NOT marked as having faith-based content. WTF? Certainly one would understand that with such a title, there is going to be religious references in the workshop, but what about "Handwriting Without Tears"? Am I to believe that there won't be any because there is no "F" on the calendar? I learned my lesson that first time!

What I did like about the convention is that it was quite big so there were lots of offerings and while it was very busy, there was ample sitting in each workshop. I enjoyed feeling part of a group for once, instead of feeling like a freak in my little corner of the world, albeit a group constituted mainly of believers: lots of "fundies" in their denim skirt uniforms, but also Muslims and Jews. If there were other secular homeschoolers, we weren't advertising it! I thought it was very well organized (I think they moved resorts since I attended so I don't know how it is now) and the layout was well-explained. I had circled the workshops that I wanted to attend on the schedule that I had gotten from FPEA in advance so I had my whole day planned.

I attended the book fair during one of the time periods when I didn't have a workshop that interested me and it was still busy but now as crowded as if I had gone during lunch or at the end of the day. However, I had no idea what to look for and I felt like I was at Walmart on a busy Saturday afternoon without a shopping list or an idea of what to buy but with my credit card. There were LOTS of vendors. However, I don't do well in crowds. So I wandered aimlessly and looked at some stuff without really registering what I was looking at and consequently bought material that I didn't need and ended up never using. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I hadn't done my research on prices so I paid too much because I could have gotten better deals online.

One thing that I regretted was bringing a tote bag because my shoulder was hurting at the end of the day while most veteran homeschoolers had their foldable rolling carts with them, overbrimming with their purchases and what not. However those also ended up being annoying because you tripped on them in the convention room aisles. They were everywhere!

They were lots of families attending together, which made me sad that my husband didn't want to come (he doesn't show much interest in what we do, I'm taking it as he had complete confidence in me and gives me carte blanche, which I like, but still...). The kids didn't attend the workshops though, they have a kids' area for them. There were also lots of teens since they were having a graduation ceremony for them that evening. It made me feel good about homeschooling because I realized that it wasn't just a fad for moms with young kids who didn't want them to get bullied in elementary school.

My favorite workshop was conducted by Susan Wise-Bauer and it was about writing. She talked a million miles a minute but she was very impressive and from that workshop I discovered the Well-Trained Mind which was such a relief because I felt that I had been afloat before and TWTM offered me a good blueprint for the years ahead. Anyway, she hasn't been back to FPEA since so I didn't bother going. The Math U See workshop was exactly was is on the demo DVD that you can order for free, but since he's also a preacher of some kind, we got lots of praying and preaching and praise to God comments thrown in there. Definitely a turn-off for me although I went on to use MUS for 1.5 year after that. I took a workshop on making books with your kids, which was very interesting but I never put it to good use. Same thing with the "Using Geography to Teach Everything" (or something like that) workshop. Interesting, yet I have barely done any geography with Noah, something that I regret. Another workshop I attended was about field trips in Florida but honestly, that was a waste of time. It was an ego trip for the lady to crow about traveling non-stop and all the places she took her kids. Heck, no one needs to buy her book for that, you can check out the Florida field trips of HomeschoolBuyers' Co-op (http://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/field-trips/)and get the same info for free. I took a couple more workshops but I don't remember much about them.

All in all it was exhausting and it was good for MY socialization (I met up with some local homeschooling moms that I knew a couple of times and also I met an online friend for lunch) but I didn't see the need to go back in the subsequent years, especially since I never renewed my FPEA membership.

HTH!

BPier12
05-19-2010, 03:36 PM
Wow, Nathalie, thanks for such a complete review of your experience! I really appreciate you taking the time to share all of your thoughts about it. Based on my gut instincts, and what you have said here, I think that this is not the conference for me this year. I think that I would end up being irritated by too much religious content for my personal belief system, too many people, and too many choices in the vendor hall. Better that I stay curled up with my family and keep plugging away looking at content on the computer and gaining wisdom from people like you! I will definitely keep looking at the catalogues every year just in case there are speakers that I really want to hear, but this year I think we'll pass. Thanks again!

Snoopy
05-19-2010, 03:43 PM
No problem, Beth. I just looked over the schedule for this year and wow, it's mostly religious stuff either because of the content or because of the provider ('cause I don't think that a Christian college is going to give you a secular overview of how to plan for college). And also political stuff that frankly have nothing to do with homeschooling. I'm rather conservative but there would be nothing of interest to me this year.

I don't know if you saw my post on the Florida group from a few weeks ago but the LIFE of Florida group will be having their annual convention in Orlando in September. It's much more affordable and totally secular, but much smaller too. I haven't attended yet, I'm waiting to see what workshops will be on the schedule before making my decision.

reversemigration
05-19-2010, 05:29 PM
I don't know if it's an option for other conventions, but when I went to the Midwest Homeschool Convention (as an absolute and mostly clueless homeschool newbie - as opposed to now that I've moved up to being a mostly clueless newbie) back at the beginning of April, I only sprung for the exhibition hall entrance fee. This helped keep Max and I from being overwhelmed, let us look over curriculum and resources, get a feel for the homeschooling community (can I say again that I'm glad to have found SHS?), and size up the speakers and topics without actually going in.


And also political stuff that frankly have nothing to do with homeschooling. I'm rather conservative but there would be nothing of interest to me this year.

Yeah, I noticed this as well. I wouldn't want to go to a homeschooling convention (or co-op, or group, or....) for religious or political indoctrination. I go there for *gasp* educational resources.

As others have noted, it's easy to spend more than you anticipate. Mostly, though, I came home with buckets of product literature and brochures for local kid resources. I couldn't help picking up a few National Geographic maps, though. They were so shiny and pretty and....

Of course, I can't resist buying books, period. Even after checking out a bushel of books today after storytime, we still ended up leaving B&N with some flash cards and mad libs and a couple of books that were neither necessary nor cheaper than elsewhere. I'll cut corners elsewhere on the budget this week....

BPier12
05-19-2010, 09:37 PM
I don't know if it's an option for other conventions, but when I went to the Midwest Homeschool Convention (as an absolute and mostly clueless homeschool newbie - as opposed to now that I've moved up to being a mostly clueless newbie) back at the beginning of April, I only sprung for the exhibition hall entrance fee.

It does not say anywhere in the literature that you can just go for the exhibit hall, but I might try emailing someone in the organization to find out if that is a possibility.

Thanks! And you hardly seem clueless to me...:D

BPier12
05-19-2010, 09:42 PM
I don't know if you saw my post on the Florida group from a few weeks ago but the LIFE of Florida group will be having their annual convention in Orlando in September. It's much more affordable and totally secular, but much smaller too. I haven't attended yet, I'm waiting to see what workshops will be on the schedule before making my decision.

I did see that post and I've taken a look at the LIFE website, and I too, am waiting to see what will be available before I decide to go. It seems like it is more my speed!