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Ten Rules for Homeschool Convention Etiquette

I believe every situation calls for some etiquette, and homeschool conventions are no exception. Often, vendors represent small, family-run businesses, and sales at conventions provide their largest source of revenue. When customers follow these ten simple rules, everyone benefits.

Ten Rules for Homeschool Convention Etiquette

The next time you enjoy a homeschool convention, I encourage you to practice these ten demonstrations of courtesy. As you do so, you can be sure that you will bless and encourage the vendors and your fellow attendees.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #1

Make sure checks or credit cards are good, or pay in cash. Most vendors are able to authorize credit cards at their booths. However, if your credit card does not go through, valuable time will be lost in rectifying the situation, so make sure your accounts are in good shape before you go to a convention. If a check bounces, fees are charged and both the vendor and the customer have to deal with the account balance problems. Many vendors prefer cash, which sometimes helps vendors pay for immediate needs associated with convention expenses, such as such as food, gas, hotel expenses, etc.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #2

Handle all products carefully and respectfully. The vendor’s inventory is expensive and should be handled gently. If items are damaged, vendors may not be able to sell them. One way to appropriately inspect books would be to open them up gently, not spreading them completely open, thereby keeping their spines intact and preserving the “new” feel of the book. Of course, it is always best to peruse sample copies when they are available.

After reviewing a product, put it back in the same location where you found it. If you don’t know where it goes, hand it back to the vendor, or ask where to put it back in its proper place.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #3

Don’t shop before the vendor hall officially opens. Many vendors are scrambling to “set up shop” right up until the moment the convention sales officially begin. Honor the starting and ending times posted for sales, and don’t rush the vendors. They are eager to serve you, but they need to get organized first.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #4

Diligently supervise your children at all times. Take advantage of the wonderful children’s programs that convention coordinators have provided for your children. The convention sponsors may also offer babysitting services, or the hotel may provide those services. You can also share “babysitting duty” with another mom: one of you watches all the children while the other mom shops; then you trade off. If you prefer to keep your children with you, be sure to keep them within reach—literally—at all times, for their protection and for the protection of the vendors’ products as well.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #5

Shop, don’t study. Vendors understand that you would like to browse through a book before buying it, but to stand in front of the booth and read through the entire book is rude. Not only will the booth be less accessible to other potential customers while you are there reading, but it’s likely that the book will look “used” after you have read it from cover to cover, and no one else will want to purchase it. If you are thoroughly “sold” on a product, buy it and use it at home.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #6

Keep the traffic moving, as much as it is in your power to do so. Don’t congregate with friends (new or old) directly in front of a booth, especially with your shopping carts or strollers in tow. Vendors are dependent on person-to-person sales, so be polite and congregate elsewhere; avoid creating traffic jams that can rob vendors of business.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #7

Remember that the vendor needs to talk to as many potential customers as possible. Vendors love to talk with you, especially when homeschooling is the topic, but remember that the time they have available to interact—hopefully with everyone at the convention—is limited. Be friendly, ask your questions, and step aside so that the next guy can ask his questions.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #8

Expect to pay for good customer service. Vendors who don’t deal with high-volume inventories are often more willing to discuss their products and personally answer your questions. If a vendor “sells” you on his product, buy it from him—not from the high-volume-sales vendor on the next row, who was too busy to answer your questions. Pay for what you get, and don’t take unfair advantage of helpful people—instead, support their businesses with your purchases.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #9

Support the speakers. Most speakers at homeschool conventions receive no compensation for their contributions to the event. In fact, many speakers are required to pay a fee in order to conduct a workshop, demonstration, or class at a convention. Take advantage of the information and encouragement the speakers can offer, and if you like what you hear and see, seek out their booths and consider trying the products that impress you the most.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #10

Please honor the established closing time at the convention sales. When the vendor hall is closing, make your purchases and leave on time, like the way you “kindly make your way to the circulation desk” (sound familiar?) when the public library announces it “will close in fifteen minutes.” You can be sure that most vendors are very tired after a long day’s work and are eager to get off their feet too. Make your final purchases . . . and come back tomorrow, bright and early.

Most convention vendors love what they do or they wouldn’t be there. Many regard the hours they spend interacting with, and explaining their products/services to, potential customers as ministry. I encourage you to practice these ten rules of etiquette to enhance not only your shopping experience but the vendors’ experiences too!

See you at the conventions!

 

Linda Brodsky and her husband Mark have owned Brodsky Ministries for more than ten years. They sell curricula, T-shirts, U.S.-made toys, natural health products, and more. Their children can be found at homeschool conventions painting faces and making balloon sculptures. They have five children on earth, three in heaven, and are praying for more. Visit their website at www.brodskyministries.com.

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free TOS apps to read the magazine on your Kindle Fire or Apple or Android devices.

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Living Simply Series: Maintaining a Decluttered Home

I may the be odd one, here, but I really do love cleaning house and organizing things. The problem has always been the upkeep after I’ve organized everything. It’s taken a bit of “new-habit-forming” but I feel like I’ve (finally) got ahold of things.

Do you find it difficult to keep up with the maintenance of decluttering? If so, you’ll find our third installment of our Simple Living Series helpful!

Click the link below to read more!

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Living Simply Series: Why You Should Live More Simply

As homeschoolers, it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle of life and trying to have it all, do it all and give our kids our all. All of things sound good but in practice, it can be draining and in the end, we’re not living the life we want to lead and actually causing more damage to our families than good.

That’s why, this year, I want to help inspire you to live a more simple life. Today, I’m staring the “Living Simply Series.” At the beginning of each month, I will provide you the tips, inspiration and help you need to live a richer life by simplifying it.

Click the link below to read more!

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Building Bricks of a College Fund Plan

College costs continue to skyrocket – at a pace that far exceeds the rate of inflation. But there is a bright side to planning for college expenses, and it’s getting a little brighter all the time – thanks to federal tax breaks that can make paying for college more affordable. The key point to remember is that you can create a college funding plan brick by brick, by combining a variety of investment accounts, tax benefits and financial aid sources. Here is a quick guide to get you going:

Click on the link to reach more.

Homeschool Tool Box

Your Homeschool Toolbox

Homeschool Tool Box

A Toolbox of Strategies to Balance Home Life, Home School, and Home Business

Time is our most priceless resource. It’s the one thing we can’t get any more of. No one will ever have more than twenty-four hours in a day . . . but some people use their time much more efficiently and effectively than others. Learning how to protect and prioritize your time will help you be a good steward, which will equip you to accomplish your most important goals.

In twenty-six years as an entrepreneur and fifteen as a homeschooling mom (the last eleven as a single mom), I’ve identified seven strategies for making the most of our time so that we can live balanced, peaceful lives.

FREEDOM is an acronym for these tools: Focus, Reflect, Educate, Eliminate, Dream, Organize, and Multitask.time management

Focus

Figure out what only you can do, and then prioritize those things. Mom, only you can nurse your baby, but someone else can change his diapers. Only you can write your book (unless you hire a ghostwriter), but someone else can process and ship orders.

Focus requires self-discipline, which can be a challenge for entrepreneurs. Without the built-in accountability of reporting to an employer, we have to avoid the temptation to abuse our freedom. Plan your priorities, and then implement them. Meet challenges with action, not avoidance.

Reflect

Zig Ziglar says there are “two sure ways to fail: think and never do, or do and never think.” Reflection forces you to be honest with yourself, so it helps you identify what you should do and evaluate how well you’re accomplishing your goals. Schedule time at the end of each week, month, and year to look back and plan ahead.

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself tough questions. If this is hard for you, you may need a coach or accountability partner to help you. It’s easy to be blind to things in our own lives that someone else could readily identify. When coaching clients one on one, I sometimes realize I need to remind myself of the very advice I’m giving to them!

Educate

Nineteenth-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said, “The most successful people in life are generally those who have the best information.” Keep up with developments in your industry. Encounter new ideas and try new strategies. No matter what business you’re in, you need to study marketing. You can learn through reading books, blogs, and online articles; taking home study courses; working with a coach or mentor; and attending teleseminars, webinars, and conferences.

Educating yourself is part of operating your business. Don’t feel that you’re not working when you’re learning new things. Just don’t let education become an excuse for avoiding action. Implement what you learn.

Eliminate

Make time for what you need to focus on by eliminating activities that don’t support your goals and priorities. Evaluate your business activities and quit (or outsource) the least profitable ones. Edit your belongings as well as your activities.

If something can’t be eliminated, often someone else can do it instead of you. Delegate household tasks to children, and look for ways to involve them in your business. Participation in a homeschool co-op allows you to delegate part of your children’s education to others while you retain primary responsibility.

Delegate interruptions to the answering machine and voice mail. Many household and business tasks can be outsourced to independent contractors, including lawn care, housecleaning, piano lessons, order fulfillment for your home business, accounting, website design, and much more.

Other people will respect your time only as much as you do. Learn to say “no” to good things in order to say “yes” to the best. Remember that opportunity does not equal obligation.

Dream

Several years ago, a dear friend encouraged our mastermind team to answer three important questions. I include this “Big Dream” exercise in my time management course and assign it to my coaching clients: (1) What would I be doing if nothing stood in my way? (2) What stands in my way? (3) What do I need to do to achieve my goals? Pondering these questions opens our minds to possibilities we might not otherwise consider because the first question makes us ignore limitations, and the other questions help us figure out how to overcome them.

Setting big goals spurs us to accomplish more instead of slogging along through a boring smallness. Get out of your comfort zone. If your goals don’t scare you a bit, you’re probably not dreaming big enough. Of course, if you have a new baby or a serious illness in the family, that’s not the time for stretching yourself any further. But normally, you need to stretch and grow. Don’t wait for “some day” to do what matters most. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Organize

When your physical possessions are not organized, they cause frustration and steal your time. My main rule: A place for everything, and everything in its place.

In order to organize your time wisely, you have to know where it’s currently being invested. Just as you track expenses to plan a financial budget, track your activities to plan a time budget. Write down what you do every half-hour, and then evaluate your time log after a week or a month. See if you’re spending too much time on some things, neglecting important things, doing things you could eliminate, or overlooking opportunities to get things done.

Once you know how you’re using your time, you can plan how to use it better. I use seven planning tools: Big Dream, Yearly Goals, Monthly Priorities, Weekly Plans, Daily Tasks, Running To-Do List, and Stop-Doing List. When we build our lives around short-term tasks, we focus on the urgent to the neglect of the important. Start with a Big Dream for your life and build your yearly goals around that. Then you can plan each month, week, and day in alignment with that long-term vision.

Multitask

Multitasking has gotten a bad rap lately. Some say that if you can multitask while you are doing something, it’s not worth your time; in business, this might indicate tasks you can outsource. Others claim that multitasking undermines focus and is inefficient; in some circumstances, that can be true.

Used judiciously, however, multitasking can buy you time to focus on your priorities. It helps you do more with your twenty-four hours and trains you to use small blocks of time efficiently. Introducing new math concepts requires focus, but you can quiz your child on spelling or multiplication facts while preparing dinner. Fold a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher while talking on the phone. Listen to educational CDs in the car or while going for a walk.

Use Your Tools Wisely

These tools are not listed sequentially, but they all work together. Dreaming helps you identify your focus, and eliminating helps you maintain it. Organizing helps you eliminate, and multitasking frees up time to reflect, educate, and dream.

When you use these tools wisely, you won’t be paralyzed by what you can’t do. You’ll begin to find peace in the space between the ideal and reality, and you’ll enjoy a more productive and balanced life.

Mary Jo Tate has been educating her four sons at home since 1997. A book coach and international editor, she helps entrepreneurs and speakers author books . . . whether or not they can write (www.WriteAGreatBook.com ). She is the author of How Do You Do It All? Balancing Family Life and Home Business in the Real World (www.HowDoYouDoItAll.com ), Get Started as a Freelance Editor (www.EditingBusiness.com ), and Critical Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald. She blogs about books at www.EclecticBibliophile.com .

Copyright 2013, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the Annual Print 2013 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

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16 Mistakes Weary Homeschool Moms Make

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The baby will not stop crying,your toddler is fighting with the preschooler, your second-grader refuses to work on anything without you, the fourth-grader asked permission to go to the bathroom an hour ago, you’re late getting your sixth-grader to dance class, and your husband wants to know what’s for dinner. These are the days we just want to go back to bed, the days we lash out in anger or dissolve into tears or wonder why we ever thought homeschooling was a good idea. Every homeschool mom has times when she is weary of it all, even with an only child.

By the grace of God, these days usually pass. But make these mistakes and a bad day can become serious burnout, threatening the future of your homeschool. Avoid them and you can be happily homeschooling again much sooner.

  1. Neglecting Devotional Time

The number-one reason we moms become overwhelmed is because we’ve become self-sufficient Christians. We weren’t designed to do all things in our own strength but rather in His strength. Even with babies, late nights, and busyness, we must treat time in prayer and the Word like it’s as vital as eating. It absolutely is!

  1. Not Leaning on Your Husband

We are called to be our husband’s help meets, but our husbands are also called to care for us. How often my husband has rightly pointed out that I’m doing too many of the wrong things—like making a meal for a new mom when I had just had a baby myself! Pray that God would speak through your husband to encourage and guide you.

  1. Keeping an Erratic Sleep Schedule

One of the blessings of homeschooling is a flexible schedule. That blessing can become a curse, however, when we don’t sleep at roughly the same time each day. Immune suppression, irritability, and poor functioning result, even with the same amount of sleep. Use an alarm to remind yourself to go to bed on time.

  1. Too Many Outside Activities

Another blessing of homeschooling is the variety of opportunities for our families to participate in. Again, this blessing can become a serious source of stress one activity to another. If we don’t cut back and focus on homeschooling, illness will make the choice for us.

  1. Unrealistic School Schedule

If you’re new to homeschooling or perfectionistic, you may have expectations of your homeschool that no one could meet. If you show your ideal schedule to a happy veteran homeschooler and she laughs, you’ll know you need to get real. Assume every lesson will take twice as long as you think, and you’ll end up with the margin you need.

  1. Abandoning Routine

Doing too much is a common source of weariness, but the answer isn’t to give up your routine altogether. Without structure, your house and schooling will quickly plunge into chaos. Keep your basic routine intact and adopt a more relaxed attitude so that you and your children feel less pressure.

  1. Not Having Children Do Chores

Whether it’s because you’re too particular about the house or because you think it’s too much bother, failing to expect children to do chores is a fast track to burnout.This is a subject that must be parent directed. A great resource for training is Managers of Their Chores.

  1. Neglecting to Discipline

When we’re weary, it’s easy to let the kids get away with not doing their work or other bad behavior. Failing to discipline will only give us more grief long-term.Planning consequences for certain infractions in advance can help. Try the If-Then Chart from Doorposts.

  1. Not Utilizing Social Support

My friends who have their children in parochial schools help and support one another. How much more does a homeschooling mother need encouragement? Be sure to include in your weekly schedule time that allows you to talk with moms you can relate to.

  1. Too Little Exercise

When we’re tired, the last thing we feel like doing is exercising. Yet, it’s the key to having the energy we need to accomplish all we have to do. Exercise combined with proper nutrition reduces the risk of illness and most chronic diseases. Can you really afford not to exercise? You can benefit from as little as 15 minutes a day of vigorous activity.

  1. Misusing Substances

Fatigue can trick us into thinking we’re hungry, when actually those unneeded calories will only make us feel even more sluggish. Chronic use of caffeine and sleeping pills only masks symptoms and negatively impacts health in the long run. If you avoid making mistakes 1–10, you will find you no longer need your food or drug of choice.

  1. No Time for Other Pursuits

Over-commitment can prompt us to demand even more of ourselves in service to our families and others. The truth is that we will accomplish more if we take some time to pursue a hobby we love. Choose an activity for which your efforts will be praised—and have fun!

  1. No Limits on Free Time

While a little time for Mom is a good thing, unlimited time is not. Our hobbies and social activities can begin to spillover into time that should be reserved for school and our husbands. Set a timer and ask a Godly friend to hold you accountable for wise use of your free time.

  1. Not Planning Ahead

When you don’t have a plan for schooling,meals, or outside responsibilities,you’re going to be stressed and others will be too. Schedule time to plan the upcoming week and each evening, review your agenda for the next day.

  1. Eliminating Fun

We can punish our children and ourselves for not being disciplined by removing the optional, enjoyable activities in our homeschools. This is a mistake!Don’t try to make up for months of lack-luster schooling in a week. Maintain a reasonable pace, including time for what you all love, and you’ll be back on track more quickly.

  1. Not Asking for Help

God alone can provide the help we each need, but He chooses to give us the gift of participating in the helping. I enjoyed counseling others as a Christian psychologist, but I really love it when fellow homeschool moms ask me for help. Be honest with someone you trust about where you’re struggling, and ask for prayer and counsel.

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“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Dr. Melanie Wilson is a Christian psychologist and mother of six who happily left her career thirteen years ago to heed God’s call to homeschool. She is the author of So You’re Not Wonder Woman?and has written a free meal-planning survival guide for weary moms available at her blog, Psychowith6.

Copyright 2013, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

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