Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Homeschool Expo Experience

I know I am a little behind. like 2 months behind. This blogging thing is still new to me. I wanted to share my first homeschool expo experience so new homeschoolers could get a feel for what it is like. So here it is....

On July 28th, 29th and 30th I attended my first Homeschool Expo! I purchased my tickets for the Southeast Homeschool Expo in April as soon as online registration was opened. I was so excited and began counting down the days. I put my blog name on my expo badge so any online friends I bumped into would know who I was. I made business cards so that I could hand out my information to all the wonderful people I  knew I was going to meet.

On the 28th I attended the Homeschooling for Excellence 101 workshops, a must for any new homeschooling family. I was so nervous because I was by myself and I didn't know anyone. But if there's one thing I have learned about the homeschooling community it is that they are the most outgoing, compassionate, incredible people ever. During the first workshop I sat down to a very nice woman who was going to be homeschooling her children for the first time this year. We talked several times throughout the day. While waiting in the Subway line for lunch I was behind a husband and wife who were also going to be homeschooling for the first time. I had the opportunity to eat lunch with them and found out that we had a lot in common (I hope to meet up with them soon to do some geocaching). I sat in the next two workshops with my new friend.

Here are the workshops that I attended:
-Beginning Homeschooling: Most Asked Questions - Randi St. Denis 
-Beginning Right: Developing a lifestyle that promotes homeschooling togetherness and a family team for success and load-sharing – Rebecca Powell
-Gems for Beginners – Rebecca Powell
Both speakers were amazing and I learned a lot of wonderful information.

On the 29th I attended the expo and I had plans to attend several more workshops. But that didn't happen because I met up with some wonderful virtual friends. I wasn't one bit upset that I missed the workshops I had planned on attending and had decided on months before the expo. Why? Because I realized that what I really needed more than anything else was friends that would provide me with support on our homeschooling journey.  Here are some of the amazing women who I only had the privileged of speaking with online previously.

Left to right….
Stephanie:  Aka – @brunettefoodie A super nice, funny, energetic woman. She will be homeschooling her camera shy little tike.  She blogs at The Brunette Foodie
Rebecca: Aka - @momsmustardseed A caring, devoted and supportive woman. She taught me to relax and to trust that things will work out. She blogs at: Mom's Mustard Seeds
Alicia:  Aka - @alfecia A sensitive, compassionate woman full of wisdom. She taught me to be content and helped me realize that I am not alone on the journey of life or homeschooling.  She blogs at:  Confessions Of a Snowflake
Workshops I attended:
-Planning for the Preschooler in Your Life - Kathy Lee - where I discovered an amazing book called Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge
-Overcoming Learning Difficulties Together - Debbie Strayer/Ashley Wiggers - where I picked up some great information about working together with your child especially if they have learning difficulties.

After the workshops I walked around the exhibit hall with my new friends. There were so many wonderful vendors. Some say it is very overwhelming attending an expo and seeing ALL of the curriculum choices. But I personally don't think it was. It was amazing to see all of the resources that there are for homeschoolers and to actually look at and touch them in real life. I already knew that we would be using an eclectic style the first year so that I could gain an understanding of how the kids best learn before purchasing set curriculum. So for me attending the expo was a way to learn more about all of the styles and gather resources and ideas. I found lots of wonderful field trip ideas and realized that there were some things I could create on my own, like a kid friendly science kit.

After the expo I went out to dinner with my new friends. Girls night out is NOT something I get to do often. It was a wonderful evening filled with laughter, sharing, fellowship and food!I cannot wait to get together with them again soon.
On the 30th my wonderful supportive husband was able to attend the expo with me. We also drug two sick kids along with us. The kids did an amazing job and were so well behaved. I think they really enjoyed being at the expo and seeing all of the wonderful fabulous things that homeschooling offered. I think Gwyn even learned a few things in the workshops, lol.

In between the workshops we had lunch with our friends and visited the exhibit hall. One exhibitor really got the kids attention. Dolphin Tale was there promoting the movie that is being released September 23rd. They got a beach ball, poster, balloon dolphin and got to touch the dolphins prosthetic tale. The movie looks very neat and guess what there is even homeschool curriculum to go along with it. You can read more details about the movie on the Homeschool Movie Clubs website. You can also check out my Dolphin Tale movie review over at The Homeschool Post.
Workshops we attended:
-Early Learners: 7 Secrets - Randi St. Denis
-Children Who Struggle to Learn - Randi St. Denis
-The Difficult Resistant Child - Randi St. Denis - where my little boy fell asleep in my lap (that doesn't happen often) We picked up some great tips and tricks. Ben took lots of notes for me since Rowyn was in my lap.

We also made a few purchases. Since we are having to watch our budget we didn't get as much stuff as we would have liked but here is what we splurged on:
-Do A Dot Markers
-Pattern Blocks
-Geo Matters Reversible Maps
-Back to the Roots Mushroom in a Box - I have a review and hopefully giveaway coming soon

And there you have it our first homeschool expo experience! It was totally worth the registration fee and I will be going again next year if for no other reason than to meet up with other homeschool moms (and dads).


Martie said...

And you probably walked past the booth I was working - Alpha Omega Publications. We were at the intersection with Quaver Music ;)

Unknown said...

Martie! I spoke to you! And, Kathy, I hate that I am missing from that picture! I guess it just wasn't time for me to meet y'all in person yet! We will be connecting soon!!! :) hugs!

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