by Jessica Frierson, May 2022

1 Look over the schedule ahead of time to see which sessions you want to attend most.

As much as you may want to, you can’t be in two places at once! There are so many great speakers at the Thrive! Conference that it can be hard to choose. If you are coming with your husband, one option is to divide and conquer. Plan ahead of time which sessions you will each attend. Take notes and share the highlights of each session with each other over dinner that evening. You can also purchase mp3 downloads of the sessions you had to miss. 

Take note of the times for events outside of the speaker sessions. The keynote addresses are always a source of inspiration from our featured speakers. The talent showcase is a nice break from a day of taking in information. Our mentor table is staffed throughout the day with veteran homeschoolers who are available to share tips and strategies with you in a one-on-one setting. 



2 Dress appropriately.

You will do a lot of walking at the conference. A lot. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes. You may want to dress in layers or bring a sweater as the rooms tend to be on the cool side. Bring a small rolling cart to the vendor hall to carry your purchases. 




3 Use your phone camera to note items in the vendor hall that you might wish to purchase.

Hundreds of curricula options + conference specials + no shipping costs = a great opportunity to find everything you need for your upcoming school year. To avoid impulse buying and ensure that you get just the right item, take a walk through the vendor hall on your first day. Take photos of the items that catch your eye. If you have your kids along, get their ideas as well. Look over the pictures that evening and make a shopping list for the next day. 

Many of the vendors are (or were) homeschool parents themselves. Take time to talk with them about what your curriculum needs are. I have found that they truly care about helping you find the right fit for your child. 



4 Take time to recharge. 

Fit some downtime into each day. Take time to relax and have fun. Don’t skip meals. Staying hydrated is important also. Enjoy a hot bath at the end of the day, and be sure to get a good night’s sleep. 

If you have brought your children along, making sure they have time to rejuvenate is essential to a successful conference trip. If you have come alone, take advantage of what is probably a rare opportunity to be refreshed. 




5 Make new friends. Meet up with old ones. This is your time to connect!

Check out the time and location of your Regional Gathering, where you can meet other families from your area. If you don’t know your region, you can find it at the same link. Our Special Gatherings are another great way to connect. The special gatherings for this year will include: military, special needs, single parents, new homeschoolers, parents of preschoolers, parents of gifted children, multicultural homeschoolers, and homeschooling with a chronic illness. 

One of my favorite things about the conference is the chance to reconnect with old friends. Some go back to my early years of homeschooling in another town. Since I’ve moved, I look forward to catching up with these gals at Thrive! each year. Others are friends I have made at the conference, either while chatting at the mentor table, both grabbing for the same book in the vendor hall, or in one of the gatherings. Even my kids have formed some of their strongest friendships through encounters at the Thrive! teen programs.




Jessica Frierson is a homeschool graduate and has been homeschooling her ten children since 2000. She serves as the secretary for NCHE, writes for GREENHOUSE, and is the lead blogger for the NCHE blog.



Photo credits: sneakers photo by Benjamin Sow on Unsplash, schedule photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash ,pillow photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash, coffee photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash, phone photo by Ghen Mar Cuaño on Unsplash.