"The List" made it much easier for me to NOT get too distracted by the many neat booths just filled with loads of cool educational materials GUARANTEED to make my homeschooling year better. I didn't realize how much easier it was until later when I realized that the usual anxiety over not having been to see absolutely EVERYTHING before closing time was missing. I zoomed in, surveyed what was there, made my choices, and I was outta there!
Here's what I accomplished at the Curriculum Fair:
- I was able to cross a few things off my list of possibilities for next year after having seen them enough to know they would not quite work for me and my family (catalogues are great, but can't tell you the whole story).
- I was able to choose from several types of planners for next year and get what I really wanted, knowing I had seen almost every possibility.
- I was able to get a few freebies and to get an evaluation test to administer to one of my students to determine his math level for a later purchase.
- And finally, I was able to affirm a few choices I had previously made and take advantage of convention prices and no shipping costs. It was a real win-win situation.
I was in the middle of a conversation when someone told me and believe me, my friend (who IS still my friend) is probably wondering if I have super-speed as a super power because I ran-walked down the hall and started looking for treasures faster than the speed of...something fast. Zooooooooooom! Now you see her, now you...hey, where is she going?
It was quite a fun surprise and a fantastic end to a great convention. God is so good to us in so many ways. All thanks go to Him for that sweet treat!! (and to the organizers of the Homeschooling Convention's Used Curriculum Sale).
Here are my top tips for surviving a Curriculum Fair:
1. Budget ahead of time. It is so much nicer to spend money on what you need (or just want) when you are not causing a shortfall somewhere else. Talk it out with your husband and decide a reasonable amount to invest per child and determine how much you will need to set aside monthly to meet your goals. Find creative places to pull the money from, such as the grocery budget, by using coupons and putting the money you saved in the "Curriculum Account" instead. Sell old stuff you didn't like or use and put that money away, too. Clean a neighbor's guesthouse or watch someone's pet and save your pay. Let the kids start their own fund using money they earn doing jobs you want done around the house or by working for trusted friends and family. They'll have more fun shopping in your wake if they can keep their eyes peeled for a bargain, too.
2. Get informed. Do your primary initial research ahead of time. Do NOT wait until the day of the convention to get ideas on how you want to teach math to your third grader. Ask friends what they use, inquire at co-op or support group meetings, or post a query on a forum online, then take all the suggestions and start looking them up. Many sites offer trial versions, trial periods, or at least sample pages for you to look at. Request catalogues, compare prices, and see how much of any of the supplemental materials you need for any given program are available at your library (the more you can borrow for free, the better). You may wish to visit your local homeschool second-hand store (if you have one) or check out Craig's List or e-bay (or any other online vendor) before deciding to pay full-price at a Curriculum Fair. Swap meets, library sales, yard sales, thrift stores, and sometimes even public school discard boxes are good sources of cheaper (or possibly free) materials that may meet the needs you have. See my post on How to Homeschool for FREE (or at least, more inexpensively) before you go to your Curriculum Fair.
5. Also, remember to take a bottle of water...shopping is thirsty work...and maybe a snack or two (convention prices for refreshments do not tend to be cheap...they were charging three bucks for a soda at ours and two bucks for a small bag of chips). Oh, and my mom recommends a sweater as they sometimes really turn down the ac low to compensate for volume of people in the room and it can get quite chilly.
Well, if you get a chance, let me know how you made out at YOUR local Curriculum Fair this year. I'd really love to know what cool stuff you found. I might want to get one, too.
**Check out posts about MORE topics like this one by visiting the TOS Crew Blog Cruise archive HERE. Enjoy!