Convention season is upon us, and as a new homeschooler, you may be thinking about attending your first homeschool conference this spring. I remember my first convention experience. It was a bit like my childhood experiences at the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor, trying to choose between their "31-derful Flavors." Boy, did they have them! Barely tall enough to peer into their freezer cases, I stood on my tiptoes, gazing at the gallon-sized tubs full of delicious flavors. How could I possibly decide on just one flavor to order? I knew I didn't want to make the wrong choice and force my taste buds to regret my decision.

Signing up to attend my first homeschool convention felt the same way: overwhelming! The letter of confirmation came in the mail along with the tentative schedule of two keynote speakers, numerous workshop options, and countless curriculum demonstrations. The list of confirmed vendors selling their wares must have been 200 long! How could I possibly choose between them—and not regret my decisions? After all, I was planning school for several children for the entire year ahead on a limited budget, so the pressure was on.

But wait. God said, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6, emphasis mine). So if my good Heavenly Father said it, I must not worry about my time at the convention. How true that's become over the recent years I've attended our convention. I've learned that God does care about the details, and He has helped me select the best "flavors" for my children while I've been there. May I make a few convention suggestions to whet your taste buds a bit?  

Pray! Pray! Pray!

Before you ever register, ask the Lord if He wants you at the convention this year. After all, it can be a large commitment of both time and money. But the rewards at the convention could be abundant. If He says "yes," should you go there alone or with your spouse? Should you attend with a fellow homeschooling friend? Or should it be more of a ministry time, inviting a reluctant grandparent to come along to learn the benefits of homeschooling? What about inviting a friend or neighbor who is considering homeschooling her children? Who should watch your children while you are there? All of these are issues I want to take before Jesus for His perspective before I make my decisions. 

Plan With Your Husband

In advance of the convention, I discuss a financial budget with my husband. Although we set aside funds each month for minor homeschooling expenses like art supplies or a field trip, the bulk of our costs come from ordering curriculum and other supplies at the convention. (Last year our big ticket purchase was a stereo microscope.) Once we have agreed on a budget, I feel a tremendous amount of freedom at the convention to spend and make choices for our children's learning—whether my husband is there or home with our kids—because I know we have agreed on a spending limit.

Before the convention, I also try to set personal goals for each of our children. These are academic goals for the upcoming year, but also areas in which I'd like to see character growth and development of life skills. Then I share my goals with my husband and get his counsel. Sometimes he sees a deficiency in a child that he wants us to address in the coming year; most often he identifies in a child a strength he wants to see flourish. My dear husband has often stated, "I really don't care whether they learn the latest math or science. I do care whether they deeply know Jesus Christ and desire to walk with Him." Whether or not my husband can be with me at the convention, I have his perspective in mind while I am there making decisions on our family's behalf.