How to do the WHO Convention (Washington Homeschool Organization)

I have a confession to make: Half-way through the day at my first WHO Convention, my arm was killing me because I'd gathered so many intriguing flyers and catalogs in my convention giveaway bag. So what, you say?

This was before I had children! I am a self-admitted convention junkie. Many years and sore arms later, I have convention-going down to a science. Here are some of my best tips:

1. Plan your schedule before you go. Print out the schedule online at WHO. Know that some workshops (the ones listed on WHO's homepage) are informational, the others are sales-oriented and put on by vendors.

2. Base your schedule around your must-see workshops, but be sure to leave time for eating and shopping.

3. Go with a list of what you're looking for and/or a budget. There are so many wonderful books, science kits, art supplies, games, etc. that it's easy to go overboard.

4. If you're an experienced convention-goer, check the WHO website for what vendors will be on-hand and find them on the convention map when you arrive so you can head right to your target.

5. If you're new to the convention, take a deep breath as you head into the vendor hall. It's big. It's busy. It's loud. First, allow yourself time to wander the aisles. I go systematically up and down the aisles, strolling in the middle (not too close to the booths) and scope them out from a safe distance to see if they have anything I'm interested in. Allow at least an hour for this. Then, after taking a break for a snack or a workshop, head back to those booths that looked appealing.

6. Bring something with wheels to carry your purchases in. Some people bring wheeled luggage, milk crates on wheeled luggage carts, or baby strollers.

7. Go with a friend. It saves on gas and is fun to plan on the way there, have a lunch buddy, and debrief on the way home. Know, however, that you'll each have different things you want to see and do at the convention, so schedule your time together before you go so there aren't hurt feelings.

8. Be open to a spur-of-the-moment splurge. Pick up a little something for yourself, too. Now's the perfect time to refresh your homeschooling spirit.