Homeschooling Conventions can be overwhelming to both the experianced homeschooler as well as to those just starting out. The sheer number of choices avaliable is enough to turn even the most decisive person into a very overwhelmed one - quicker than you can say the word 'homeschool'.
If you've ever attended a convention, then you must at some point have made purchases that you later regretted. I spent several thousands on what looked like a wonderful complete curriculum from Grade 1-3 because the speaker was so convincing. The "engine room" as she called the 'teacher's manuals' were 3 thick, heavy 3-ring binders and the display of all the books that came with the curriculum looked enough to fit into a small library.
Boy was I disappointed when the curriculum arrived. The "engine room" was something even a numbskull could have put together. Day 1 do page 1 of math textbook. ditto for all the other subjects. Read from page 1 -pg 5 of xxxstorybook. Duh! Is this what I paid thousands of dollars for? And all the books I recieved fit into 1 small cardboard box. The workbooks were cheap ones that were commonly avaliable everywhere.
Oh and did I mention that I recieved the curriculum over 4 months after
I vowed never to fall for something like that again, so I went prepared for the next homeschooling convention. Here are some tips to help you avoid being suckered by those smooth talking sales people.
1. Be Prepared. Have an idea of what sort of approach you want to use with your kids - Unit Studies, School at Home, Unschooling, Charlotte Mason etc- This will narrow down the list of vendors quite a bit.
2. Leave your purse at home. Set a budget and stick to it. It is very easy to overspend and buy things that you'll never use. Take a look on e-bay and you'll see just how much new homeschooling materials are being auctioned off for pennies.
3. Make a list of the things you need and set a realistic budget. In that way you won't overspend on non-essential items and have nothing left over for the important stuff.
4. If you feel very overwhelmed and confused, then don't purchase anything at all. Simply collect catalogs, brochures etc. Then when you're home look through each one carefully and make a choice.
5. Try and spend a weekend at the fair. In the first day, just take it all in. Visit the vendors, look around and take note of what looks interesring and where you'd like to come back tomorrow. Collect catalogs, promotional material etc.
Then in the evening go over the info you've collected and narrow down your choices. Write down any questions you have for the vendors you are interested in.
The next day go back, ask your questions and make your decision - to buy or not to buy.
PS: Make a note of which homechooling speakers you want to hear and keep the schedule with you so that you don't miss it.