Hi there Amy,AES wrote:I've never been to a homeschool convention and from my limited knowledge, it seems there are numerous curriculum vendors. If I know I want to use MFW, would the purpose for going to one of the conventions be to see MFW products up close and possibly hear a workshop? Do you actually buy things at a convention or place an order? Also, with other vendors there, wouldn't it be tempting to use something other than MFW?
Our state convention has over 200 vendors. Wow, wow, wow. Here's what I get from convention:
1. Getting to attend sessions and actually ask the speakers questions (sometimes you can ask at the end of the speech if there is time, often times the speaker will run out of time and say, "I'm in booth 310 if you have more questions.").
2. Looking at curriculum. Our first year, we went to decide between Weaver and Sonlight and ended up coming home empty-handed and praying. We then started with MFW.
3. Looking at local extras. Even if you've totally decided on MFW, you can find booths on local camps, dance classes, clubs, etc. there.
4. Looking for homeschooling extras such as games, puzzles, nice colored pencils, books about Egypt, placemats with maps on them, etc.
5. Looking at family resources. Several booths will have things that support the family without being totally "homeschooling." For example, Vision Forum sets up a booth at our state conference. They have "family" material.
6. Our state conference has a teen vendor area where teens sell the crafts they made (marshmallow shooters, hair scrunchies, frames).
7. You can always arrange to meet your MFW buddies and eat chili dogs.
8. Last year was the first time that all my kids came to the Saturday shopping day. We allowed them each to choose a small "goodie" to come home with, such as a coloring book, a puzzle, etc. It does encourage them to see that other families do this silly homeschooling thing too.
9. I try to browse the MFW booth and see what else is there. Last year, I picked up some extra books (we've never done Adventures but I've picked up a few neat looking resources) and introduced a friend to MFW (she ended up purchasing ECC).
10. I always look forward to it as the speakers encourage me. But, you can also buy the conference speeches as downloads and listen as you drive or exercise.
11. Oh, and it's fun to bump into someone you haven't seen in a while there.
12. And, where else can you wear a denim jumper and be surrounded by 200 ladies that dressed just like you that day! : )
About seeing other vendors, once we settled on MFW, seeing other programs at convention doesn't really tempt me to use them. I actually do spend some time (if the vendor isn't too pushy) browsing other programs. Instead of the other programs tempting me, they usually leave me thankful that I'm using MFW. Some other programs look cumbersome. Other programs seem too simplistic.
You have to weigh what you'd get out of it with the cost of admission (and these days, gasoline) and the time you'd be away from the family (at our conference, kids can't attend until Saturday).
I guess I'd recommend anyone that's never been to one to, if possible, go once and see what all the hubbub is about.