The next few weeks are busy, busy for me here at the Rowhouse. The kids are finishing up their school year, wrapping up Algebra I and some literature and various other things we’ve done this year. I officially “graduated” them with a special meal and a gift of decent school style backpacks. They’re the same Jansport model that I still have from my own youth. Mine made it through high school, college, and then as I traveled extremely light across Asia in my early 20’s. That’s a good backpack and hopefully theirs will see some good adventures too. First up, we’re taking a short “8th grade trip” to New York to see a Broadway show and hit some spots the kids have never visited.
I’m also chatting with clients for Simplify, which is fun and exciting, to hear about other people’s homeschools and challenges and help them out. I’m trying to finish up my book about homeschooling middle school so that it should be out within the next month or so. It’s getting some final revisions and a solid round of copy editing by a professional. I still have to choose a title, which is a little nerve wracking. Your Complete Middle School Homeschool Survival Guide? Surviving Homeschooling the Middle School Years? Something more clever and cute? Eye-rolls and Deep Thinking: Homeschooling the Middle School Years. I’ll figure it out soon!
Finally, I’m putting the final touches on my talks for the SEA Homeschool Conference in Atlanta. I’m so excited to see some of you there! It’s going to be lots of fun. I’m especially looking forward to talking about middle school. It’s like crystalizing my book into presentation form and it’s helping me discern the most important points.
If you’re on the fence about going to the SEA Conference, there are some amazing speakers there and some great looking presentations. If you live anywhere around Atlanta, you can also get a single day pass now, which seems like a great option if you’re just hoping for a small dose of homeschool inspiration. I know I often resist these sorts of events, but when I go to them, I really do come home fired up about new things and more reflective about our practices. Homeschool parents deserve professional development too!
Guess what? I’m going to be speaking at the SEA Homeschool Conference in July. If you don’t know SEA, they’re the Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschoolers. They have a super active to bursting Facebook group and this is their second annual conference. I’m excited to be there representing Simplify Homeschool.
I’m going to be talking about one of my favorite topics: middle schoolers, and how to survive having them in your homeschool! I’m also going to be talking about how to move from a more relaxed, unschoolish influenced homeschool to a more rigorous one when you need to, and back again when it’s time for that.
If you’re planning on going, I’d love to greet you there! I’m already dreading being socially awkward with everyone though!
Why, yes, I did just show my kids a TED talk. This one as a matter of fact:
It’s about the OK Go video for “This Too Shall Pass,” which we’ve been fans of for awhile. In fact, we’re just huge fans of Rube Goldberg machines or pitagora suichi, as the Japanese say, in general. The video is at the end of the TED talk. It’s not the best TED talk ever, but it contained the following life lesson that I really appreciated, which was that they had to do the little things, which were actually the most difficult ones, first and leave the easy ones, which turned out to be the big ones, for last.
Which leads me to the fact that we used the OK Go video for inspiration when we made our own pitagora suichi during the weeks while we were snowed in and all our activities were canceled. It was fun. We used it again when we studied simple machines with our co-op in the spring. We watched the video and yelled out various simple machines we spotted. “Lever!” “Pulley!” Much fun.
That leads me to a question given by the presenter at the science session I went to at my first homeschooling conference. She reminded us that science can be divided into life sciences, earth sciences and physical sciences. Then she asked which one we all do the most. Apparently the correct answer was “life sciences.” I guess I’ve been doing something wrong then because we did do a lot of biology last year, but we also did a good amount of physical sciences and I’ve been preparing our own curriculum so we can study physical sciences all next year. She claimed to be against that bias. Then she made a face when referencing a pulley. Then she went ahead and showed lots of examples, the vast majority of which were about life sciences and nature study. In other words, I’m not really sure if she was against that bias as she thought she was.
Which leads me to the fact that the homeschooling conference in general was a bit of a dud for me. I bought a couple of Usborne books I had wanted and a game which lets kids practice addition and play tic-tac-toe Gobblet style. My big takeaway was that there sure are a lot of young earth and creationist science materials out there. I knew that already, but this really let me know it. Also, I kept thinking about this recent post from Smrt Lernins about a Bob Jones University homeschool science textbook that incorrectly explained electricity in a way that I found really disturbing. Every time I passed the big BJU table in the back of the vendors hall, I wanted to make faces at them. Also, I spotted two vendors selling the Pearls’ book To Train Up a Child. Families following this method have been implicated in the deaths of their offspring on more than one occasion, so that made me want to act out a little too. Which leads me to the conclusion that while I was glad I went so I could say I’ve been to a homeschooling conference and tried to be open minded about the offerings, I don’t think I’ll be going again.
Which leads to… the end of the post! I wish I could make it ring a bell or play the little seven note Japanese children’s show theme song that the pitagora suichi play. Here. You can just go see that for yourself instead.