For the shortest month of the year, February has a lot going on in it. It is Black History Month, and Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Days are in February. It is a busy month for us at SEA Homeschoolers too. We have a sweepstakes that will begin February 15th, and it is less than four months until our first annual SEA Homeschoolers Conference.

From its inception, SEA Homeschoolers has been a support community and an advocacy group. SEA Homeschoolers advocates for the use of innovative, eclectic academics that are handcrafted for the unique learning style of the individual. This sort of eclectic, academic journey can be profound for students but hard to design and facilitate. Luckily, the internet has revolutionized the ability to connect with others. In June, we have a homeschool conference in West Virginia where you can meet other homeschoolers and attend talks and workshops. Real life conferences, like the one in June, are a celebration for the whole family. These conferences are energizing, thought-provoking, and helpful as you meet old friends and make new ones, ask questions of veteran homeschoolers and speakers, and explore materials from various vendors at the conference. We have worked hard to put together exciting programming for teens, tweens, and younger kids too. We are homeschoolers, so it is only natural that we would think about the kids! We are working hard to get our schedule up to date. We are still getting new speaker proposals and new vendors signing up so it has been hard to stay current. At the end of the month, we will be sending an updated schedule to all our subscribers, so look for that in your inbox.

SEA Homeschoolers, in addition to being a warm and welcoming support group for our secular community, is an advocacy group. I am a scientist, so it shouldn’t be surprising that a group I founded advocates for the use of secular academic materials for learning. A group of us developed a clear set of definitions for what constitutes secular academic materials. At its most basic, the definition used by SEA Homeschoolers is that the materials and programs present the facts and theories for each discipline as would be recommended by the majority of practicing experts in a field of study.  The promotion of secular academics is sometimes viewed as a political issue. It isn’t though. It is about academic integrity. It is about teaching subjects in a manner that is true to what is known about those subjects.

Academic integrity is 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 that have the credentials to determine what people learn should be held to the highest standards of academic integrity. Academic integrity does deal with such issues as the wrongness of cheating and plagiarism. More importantly from the standpoint of materials and programs that are created to teach, academic integrity has to do with the honesty and rigor providers use when determining what and how facts, principles, models, and theories are presented.

I am proud to say that SEA Homeschoolers has become trusted in the secular homeschooling community for being willing to give honest information about which programs and materials are secular and which are not. The new website has a moderated review section for reviews of secular programs and materials. We have been so busy with our other endeavors that we haven’t been able to put enough effort into amassing reviews for secular academic products. This month that will change. We feel this is such a vital service to our secular, academic community that we are embarking on an 11-week contest starting February 15. SEA Homeschoolers is asking our members, as a valuable service for other homeschoolers, to submit reviews for secular materials they have used. How, you might wonder, are we going to get homeschoolers to take time out of their busy schedules to leave reviews? We are going to run a sweepstakes with prizes, that’s how! Each week the name of one person who has left a review that week will be chosen at random. The prize will be a $25 Amazon gift card. Each review you leave will give you one chance at winning. At the end of each week, we will clean the slate and start collecting reviews for the following week. At the end of the 11-week contest we will put everyone’s name back into the mix and choose one name. This person will win our Grand Prize which is a $100 Amazon gift card. The more reviews you leave, the more chances you have to win.

Click here to read the technical details, a.k.a. the rules and regulations. If you’re like me :-), all you really need to know is that for each week you leave a review and for each review you leave that week you will be entered into a contest to win a $25 gift card for that week.  The contest will go 11 weeks. That’s 11 $25 gift cards from Amazon. At the end of the contest, one Grand Prize winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card. We will ask people to focus their reviews on a specific subject area each week. This is just so we get reviews for every subject. However, we will accept reviews for any subject materials and programs reviewed that week.

Good Luck, and I hope I get to meet you in June!

Blair