I confess that I am a control freak organizational maniac. That said, you can just imagine what goes into planning to attend the FPEA convention at my home. I have to start several months in advance. Soon after Christmas I start really evaluating the curriculum we have been using for the year. Are the kids enjoying it? Are they learning? Does it fit our lifestyle? Does it require too much or too little of us? I need to start thinking about what to keep doing and what to change up for the next year.
Next, I need to think about what we want to learn for the coming year. We like to let the kids choose the historical periods and sciences they want to focus on. Do I need to add spelling, handwriting, logic, art, economics, creative writing? You know the drill. Everything sounds so interesting, but we only have so much time. Choices must be made.
Now, I start talking to homeschooling friends about their recommendations. What works for you? Why do you like that book? What don’t you like about the other one? Then, it is on to the catalogs. What is out there? What sounds like it would work for us? What just tickles my fancy (all of them of course because I love books like every good homeschooling mom)? What fits my budget (reality check time)? And now, it is on to the list making. I make a list of every book, game, activity, video, etc that seems like a possibility for us. It is a long one, believe me. I color code my list (you know, that organizational thing). Blue is for highly likely, pink are serious possibilities, orange are things that look interesting, but probably don’t fit our time constraints or budget.
When the convention information comes out, I am giddy with excitement as I pour over the names of the speakers and list of vendors. Out come my highlighters again. I attack the seminars first. What can I eliminate right away? We are past the toddler and preschooler age. High school and college are our focus these days. We love our math books, so I can ignore presentations by math vendors. You get the idea. Blue highlighters are for the ones I have to hear. Pink are interesting topics that I want to know more about and orange is for the ones that I will fit in if I have time.
I LOVE that we can get seminars on CD from the convention. Now choosing isn’t such a hardship. I try to pick talks that I think will have the most visuals to see in person and pick up a CD for those that I missed, but really want to hear. This option gives me some freedom to take some time to hit the exhibit hall at off times.
And now we come to the exhibit hall. I have gone through the map and vendor list with my handy, dandy highlighters so that I don’t miss anything important. I have my list of books, etc to look at, and I am one thrilled mamma. I get the chance to actually look at the products before I plop down my husband’s hard earned money. I also have catalog prices just in case those end up being cheaper (it has happened more than once). Nothing gets bought until Saturday. This way I have time to talk things over with my husband, and we can pray about what fits our needs the best. I also make sure that I have plenty of address labels with me to mark my purchases and to save me time when I am signing up on mailing lists.
Can the FPEA convention be overwhelming? Yes. But if you plan ahead and use the information that FPEA supplies, you will find that you experience a lot less stress and get a lot more out of this incredible opportunity.
By Melanie Thurman, FPEA Relationship Ambassador. Melanie is a homeschooling mom of five in her 21st year of this adventure. You can catch up with her at www.thurmanmom.blogspot.com