Every year for the last three years I have attended the Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention held in Nashville at the Opryland Hotel. The convention is three days of sessions and an exhibit hall that is filled with information, notes, tips, brochures, handouts, advice, books, and curriculum. You can imagine how much paper piles up!
****(Picture shows paperwork from the first day with only three sessions and I had not yet visited the exhibit hall that has all of the brochures, samples and curriculum!)*****
At the end of each of homeschool convention, I came home exhausted. Three days of walking, talking, note taking, and curriculum comparisons. Three days of very important and imperative information floating around in my head. Three days of speed walking to get to the next session and find a good seat. Three days of meeting people and forming new relationships. I always leave drained, physically and mentally. As an extroverted introvert, all I want to do at the end of these is crawl into bed and not speak for days.
Each year, I find myself with tote bags filled with tons of paper. With full intentions of going through the totes and sorting out the keepers and the trash, I set the totes in the bottom of my classroom closet. This space holds an account of my daughter’s education and mementos of special achievements such as a perfect spelling test, the first copy-work, a certificate of participation in a program, etc. All of which is very important, but not looked at on a daily basis let alone weekly or even monthly.
Remember those good intentions of sorting through the totes? I didn’t. Literally, until just a few months ago.
As I was preparing for the second half of our current school year I visited the dungeon, err, space that holds important information, and discovered the three totes from the prior conventions packed with information. All of the carefully written notes, free samples, coupons (expired coupons), and catalogs (also expired!). I was a little upset with myself. Who am I kidding, a little upset? I chided myself for a while, exclaiming what a waste of time and money that we had invested in at these past conferences only to stash the information to die a lonely dusty death in the bottom of that closet.
Intentional Prep Before the Homeschool Convention
I decided then and there to come up with an intentional plan to never let this happen again. So, in preparation for our fourth convention, I have put together a checklist of sorts.
1. Look at it. I mean, take those papers out of the tote. Lay them out and look at them. Organize the information into specific groups.
Samples (CD’s, books, bumper stickers, pens, etc.)
Notes from sessions
2. Now you are ready to pass on, file or purge all of the information from a homeschool convention.
My plan is to place these into three piles. Some of the brochures, can be passed on to another homeschooler. My girl is 10 years old, so brochures about college are not relevant to her at this time, nor will it be relevant next year or even the year after that. At the same time, she is not a beginning reader so we will not need those types of brochures. If I can not pass them on, they are purged. If they are relevant then they go into a file that is to be looked at quarterly.
You will find every kind of sample imaginable at the exhibitor booths. Pens, pencils, chocolate, hand sanitizer, key chains, pen lights, CDs, the list goes on and on! I received several samples of a hand lotion and natural sweetener from THM (Trim Healthy Mama) last year. Those were still in the bag…the horror! This year, I plan to put those samples to good use and fast. Pens and pencils are a luxury in our home so those are easy to handle. Hand sanitizer goes into the totes that we use for outings. Mints and chocolate? They should not even be in the tote, I plan to have gorged on those empty calories during sessions!
Are you a Charlotte Mason kind of teacher but have Classic Conversations Curriculum catalogs? Ask yourself, “Am I going to change how I am teaching? Does my child(ren) need to be taught a different way? Is there a particular subject that he/she/they would benefit from by using this style rather than what we have been doing? No? Then toss it, unless you know someone who could benefit from the catalog, then pass it on. Sometimes the catalog is within the current school year, more than likely, you already have your curriculum chosen, and are already using it. Generally, these can be purged since they change from year to year.
New friends are almost a given at each homeschool convention. I have met some amazing people, some of whom have their own businesses. We end up exchanging business cards. Be sure to follow up with them, even if it is a handwritten note to let them know you enjoyed meeting them. Then, file their information where you will be able to find it for future play dates, tutorial meet-ups, etc.
Notes From Sessions
I came up with a system of using a simple notebook with to write notes in. I added several index cards to my notebook and numbered them 1-5. My intention is to take notes and then as soon as humanly possible (i.e. right after the class and before the next session started) highlight the top three to five ideas to implement.
There is a plethora of information to mentally sort through when attending a homeschool convention. These sessions are meant to motivate you, inspire you, to help you find grace, to discover new ways to help you teach your children, and to remind you to focus on Christ-filled living. You will begin the adventure with a tote bag. The tote bag will grow as you visit the exhibitor booths. If you are like me, you will grab every piece of paper and catalog that comes your way, because “you never know”. If you don’t grab it, someone will place it in your hands! You will also find handouts and brochures at each session as well as business cards from the presenters. Add to the growing pile a huge amount of notes. All of this needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.
To be as intentional as possible, I plan on going through my papers within 24 hours of this particular convention. On second thought, I have a massage scheduled for the day after Teach Them Diligently homeschool convention is over, so how about 48 hours?
Check back with me to see how I did!