An Evolution in Homeschooling: It’s Secular, Eclectic, and Academic

 

SEAOn April 9, 2015, I was feeling lonely. Not for friends or family. For homeschoolers who, like me, considered themselves secular, eclectic, academic. Prior to having my son Sean, I was a community college professor. During the nine years I had homeschooled him, I came to miss the conversations I had with my fellow educators about academics and teaching. You might be wondering if we were having a rough patch with our homeschooling. Actually, things were going great. And I wanted to share this with others.

We are very eclectic with our homeschooling. I do not ascribe to any methodology. I am a cherry picker of methodologies. Our favorite method of homeschooling is the one that works, and that changes depending on the subject and how Sean is accessing the material. Unfortunately for eclectic homeschoolers, no guide book exists. Most of the time, we just wing it, which can be nerve-wracking.For

For tenth grade, Sean and I wanted to embark on a couple of big, all-encompassing, alternative projects. This new direction felt a bit like I was jumping off a cliff with no parachute and no safety net while holding my child’s hand. I longed to talk with other homeschoolers also taking an alternative route with their children’s learning.

Naturally, I did what a lot of people do these days when they want to share: I posted in a Facebook group about it. I expected to get a response from about ten people. SEAInstead, my post received numerous responses from people who wanted to converse. This led directly to the formation of the Facebook group Secular, Eclectic, Academic (SEA) Homeschoolers.

Facebook is the perfect platform for SEA Homeschoolers: a vibrant, dynamic community with several discussion threads going at once. At any time, you can find on-going discussions about curricula, strategies, innovative things people are doing, and concerns people have about their children’s academic challenges. This group was just what I was looking for on that day in April. From its humble beginnings, SEA Homeschoolers has grown into a warm and caring support community. Participants generously and regularly give their time to share quality advice from one homeschooler to another as people help each other with homeschooling issues.

As the growth of SEA Homeschoolers suggests, secular homeschoolers are the fastest growing segment of the homeschooling community. SEA Homeschoolers advocates for the exclusive use of secular academic materials and programming, materials that teach the facts, theories, and models in a discipline as would be recommended by a majority of practicing experts in that discipline.

Advocating for the exclusive use of secular academics might seem like a hard line for a group whose motto is “Our differences are our strength.” But our advocacy is born of our expectation of academic integrity, the ethical policy that forms the guiding principles for what and how academic materials are presented. SEA Homeschoolers believes that companies and individuals that present themselves as entities with the credentials to determine what children learn should be held to the highest standards of academic integrity. From the standpoint of materials and programs that are developed to teach, academic integrity has to do with the honesty and rigor used when determining what and how facts, principles, models, and theories are presented. SEA Homeschoolers believes we can honor people’s differences while maintaining standards for academic integrity. Our group is proud to be a trusted source of information about which materials and programming are and are not secular.

Because of this advocacy, we have built a website to accommodate the reviews by our fellow homeschoolers of secular academic products and a list of non-secular products. To encourage homeschoolers to submit their reviews and encourage the development of more and better secular academic materials and programming, we created sweepstakes with a weekly drawing for an Amazon gift card!

To fulfill our desire to reach out in person to offer support and provide community, SEA Homeschoolers will host our first annual conference in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, June 1 to 4, 2017! Exclusively secular but inclusively welcoming, our conference will welcome speakers and vendors from across the secular homeschooling community, including Corin Barsily Goodwin and Justin Schwamm from GHF: Gifted Homeschool Forum. We have events, workshops, and talks geared for attendees of all ages. Join our celebration of innovative secular academics!

Having been involved in education for over three decades, I am continually impressed with the profound benefits from an academically-rich alternative journey through learning like those found in the homeschooling community. By connecting and forming community through the internet and in-person, we can share in each other’s journey, no matter where we live. I cannot wait to see how our academically secular community evolves next.

SEA

Blair Lee M.S. is the founder of SEA Homeschoolers and author for the critically acclaimed R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Series. Blair has been handcrafting the education of her non-linear thinker for over 11 years. Blair is a passionate advocate of innovative academics using secular materials. In June 2017, she will be speaking at SEA Homeschoolers Conference in West Virginia. Blair is also a featured speaker at the California Homeschool Network’s EXPO in September 2017.

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