Are you looking forward to the 2014 IAHE State Convention?
Many hours of prayer, planning, and work are devoted each week to planning what we hope will be a weekend of learning and blessing for you and your family. Sometimes an event like this can seem like a three-ring circus because so much happens at once. Here are a few helpful hints to assist you in planning your time so that you leave the convention refreshed and energized rather than frazzled and exhausted.
BEFORE YOU START, TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND. . .
Think through your family’s purpose for home educating. More time at home together as a family, more control over what your children are learning, more influence on how and with whom they spend their time, and the quality of academic achievement are sound reasons to home educate. But there is a greater purpose: to raise Godly children who set their hearts to seek after God and His ways and who will make an impact in this world for His Kingdom. Scripture tells us we are in a battle, and we need to be prepared (Eph. 6:10-18). Pray and ask for God’s direction, wisdom, guidance, and strength. He will provide it (Prov. 3:5-6).
Make home educating a team effort. Whether you are married, widowed, or single, homeschooling parents need the support of a like- minded confidant who can listen, pray, and help with discernment. Scripture admonishes us to walk with the wise and to seek the counsel of other believers in order to make wise decisions. Your homeschooling journey will be more successful if you walk in community with other like-minded homeschooling parents.
Wear comfortable shoes & travel light. You will want a bag that is big enough for your wallet and necessities in as well as space for catalogs, notes, the convention program book and any other goodies you pick up.
MAKING YOUR PLAN OF ACTION
Review the convention schedule ahead of time. Take note of the workshops that pique your interest, meet your needs, and support the goals and direction you’ve been praying about. Many families quickly determine that there are multiple workshops each hour that they desire to attend. Don’t worry! We record all workshops, and they will be available for purchase. We want your time at Convention to be nourishing and refreshing.
Stay focused. Seek out workshops that will guide and equip you in achieving the spiritual maturity you are seeking for your family. Attend the General Sessions and the featured speakers’ workshops. We specifically invited these speakers to challenge us to lead our families Biblically and to encourage us in our walk with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Make a list of the curriculum you want to review and ask questions! The Exhibit Hall is chock full of choices, possibilities, and expertise! To make the most of your time there, jot down specific questions you would like to ask. Take your time to stop and peruse curricula and to talk with the vendors. Strike up conversations with other home school parents and glean from their experience. Stop by the IAHE booth and talk with veteran home school parents.
Make sure you have set realistic academic goals. There is no “one size fits all”curriculum, nor is there a ‘perfect’ curriculum. That’s why we offer you so many choices. Teaching and learning styles, size of the family, and age of the children are important components to consider when choosing curricula. Our children are all different. For that matter, we as parents are all different. Consider seriously the interests and abilities of your children. God often gives our children these interests for His purpose in their lives. Be open to God’s leading. Be willing to experiment and to step out of your comfort zone.
ENJOYING THE CONVENTION
Arrive early and plan your day. There are more workshops and information at this convention than you could ever absorb in one weekend. Plan your schedule, relax, and enjoy every workshop and General Session you attend.
Be flexible. Consult your list, go to the workshops you prayed about and planned for, but be open to the Lord’s leading during your day. Maybe you won’t attend that planned workshop after all. Instead, God might have you go to another.
Take notes at workshops you attend. Writing down important points and your thoughts about the topic during workshops keeps your mind focused and enhances learning. Later, these notes can jog your memory when discussing the workshop content with others, especially your husband if he’s not there with you. (Even if you never look at these notes again, studies show you will remember things better if you take notes.)
Take time to talk with others. Get acquainted with the people at the IAHE booth and check out the ‘Meet Your Regional Representative’ schedule in the program book. Plan to visit with the IAHE Representatives from your region. They are veteran home educators from all over the state who have volunteered to serve and support home educating families in Indiana. Talk with others around you when you are sitting in a room waiting for a general session or workshop to begin. God can use you as an encouragement in their lives, as well as using them as an encouragement in your life.
DON’T FORGET THE EXHIBIT HALL
No trip to convention is ever complete without time spent in the exhibit hall. We have carefully selected a set of vendors who represent a wide array of curriculum selections designed to cater to various teaching and learning styles. That being said, the sheer number of choices can be confusing, if not overwhelming. Compare each choice to your purpose, plan, and goals. Try to bypass things that are good to purchase only that which is excellent for your family. We want to bless you with an opportunity to examine curricula firsthand, to provide an opportunity for you to ask questions of knowledgeable representatives, and finally, to allow you to be able to purchase what you need at a fair price. However, we encourage careful consideration and prayer as you make your purchases.
Visit the IAHE booth. Veteran home educating parents are available to serve you throughout the weekend. These moms are familiar with the exhibit hall and will be able to help you find what you are looking for. They have spent hours and hours (more likely, years and years!) using various curricula and will be a wealth of information about what has worked for them and why. Please take the time to talk with these hostesses and glean from their experience and wisdom.
Plan for the exhibit hall. With your list in hand, take a walk through the exhibit hall noting the vendors offering the curricula you are investigating. Be sure to check prices and special offers from each vendor. Also, browse the used curriculum booths. You might be able to pick up some things at a reduced price that will, in turn, offset the cost of other curricula purchased new. Take your time, and remember that every curriculum decision does not have to be made today.
Schedule your time in the exhibit hall. You could easily spend hours shopping, causing you to miss general sessions and workshops that might have provided the wisdom and guidance you were seeking. Plan a specific time to shop and shop efficiently. Vendors often offer sign-up sheets for catalogs and email newsletters. Bring some address labels that you can peel and stick onto their forms rather than filling them out by hand.
Relax. There is no way to hear every speaker that you may want to hear. There is no way to purchase every resource you fall in love with in the exhibit hall. Pray for God to direct your time and resources spent at the convention. And enjoy!