To Homeschool, or not to Homeschool
by Danielle Moffatt
The world is continuously changing to meet the evolving demands of the population and if we should step back and assess humanity’s trending behaviour; it becomes clear that there is a radical shift towards home-centric activities. Ten years ago, shopping malls were filled with eager consumers but these days more persons are opting for the online shopping experience. The same goes for movie theatres and it seems schools may be added to the list of soon-to-be-obsolete structures, given recent trends.
According to Genessa Ardron, Principal at large for Roots Homeschooling, “Home education is attracting more people… and it is becoming more socially acceptable. Many home education providers in the province have been experiencing an increase in their student numbers in recent years.”
Arguments for Homeschooling
The decision to homeschool is a choice many parents embrace for several reasons. Ardron believes that a core reason motivating families to explore home-based education is the fact that it is principle-oriented. According to Ardron, “Christian parents are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the materials and ideologies that are being taught and promoted in schools. Many are becoming convicted that God is calling them to steward their child’s life… rather than (leaving it to) teachers and classmates.”
Other reasons offered by Ardron relate to academic and social issues. “Some parents are concerned with the ever-lowering academic standards in schools. While others are aware of increased bullying, especially of those who disagree with the status quo.” Giving credence to the argument posed by Ardron is a study conducted by the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre in 2006. The study found that one in three adolescents reported being bullied, 81 percent of youth reported having experienced sexual harassment, and 35 percent of children who reported being sexually harassed stated that their first encounter was in elementary schools.
Ardron goes on to say, “There is also the reality that many teachers are facing overcrowded classrooms and cannot give students the attention needed. Sometimes children have other specific needs or disabilities, and a conventional classroom can be more stressful.”
First-Hand Experience of a Homeschooler
Dawna Zuch, a Calgary resident, homeschools her three children, ages seven, five and three. Zuch believes she is able to spend more time with her children and is better able to focus on building their character and relationship with God. The allure of being able to control the influencers in her children’s lives impacted her decision.
It is said the best lessons are learned outside of the classroom. The rigidity of the education system does not allow for learning-on-the-go. Zuch and her husband, Darvin, had dreams of travelling with their children and teaching them about life and people skills from a Christian perspective.
Their first born was already enrolled in public school, but the prospects of living that dream and exposing their children to the world was enough to bid adieu. Since that monumental step, there have been many challenges surrounding the establishment of a teacher-student relationship, but there have been countless successes.
Zuch is currently registered with Roots Homeschooling because it offers a close-knit community and a support group of like-minded believers who gather regularly for events, like monthly meetings, field trips, a gym program and a worldview program. Roots Homeschooling is a Christian home education provider; a program of The Father’s House Christian School. Roots Homeschooling accommodates parents who wish to conduct a parent-directed, home education program. These parents are deeply invested in their faith, their families, and each other. To learn more about Roots Homeschooling, visit www.roots-homeschooling.com.
Affordability of Homeschooling
Homeschooling has become more affordable over the years. According to Zuch, the Government of Alberta allocates funds annually to each family that is registered for homeschooling. A receipt of expenses is submitted to the home school board and expenses are reimbursed, if it aligns with the programme. There is only one inescapable condition of homeschooling – two parents are required. One parent has to be the income earner and the other the teacher.
According to Ardron, “Home education ranges from highly affordable to very expensive, depending on the materials one purchases… Some persons find it helpful that the Government of Alberta provides funds for each parent-directed home-educated student, $800 annually.”
Arguments against Homeschooling
Proponents of traditional education have argued that it is the sheltering of children by homeschooling that cause their social alienation and awkwardness. In a traditional public school, children are exposed to diverse cultural backgrounds, which aid in the development of interpersonal skills, and expose children to the real world. However, the real world for parents who opt to home school is worth staving off. Also, according to Ardron, “The home-educated child usually has a higher social capacity than his institutionalized peer, since he/she regularly interacts with more people (outside of) their age group in an average day”.
High parental burn-out due to excessive stress is often quoted as a major deterrent, followed by the lack of academic qualifications of parent teachers. This lack of qualifications often results in the parents hiring subject specific tutors which can cause an escalation of the overall cost of homeschooling.
Ardron however finds the claim that parents are ill-equipped to educate their children flawed, she says, “they are the ones who love and most understand their children’s strengths, weaknesses and personalities. Parents are far from under-qualified. In fact, both parents and the home-educated student become well-trained in finding answers to their questions, and are some of the most adept people at critical thinking and problem solving. If a parent doesn’t know the answer, the answer can always be found with teamwork and some creativity.”
To Homeschool or not to Homeschool
Ultimately, it comes down to the individual. No two people are alike and one’s choices and motivations will never be a blueprint of another’s. Sometimes beliefs converge and sometimes they are miles apart, but are equally merited.
Zuch has her fair share of detractors and candidly stated, “Having someone in your life that is vocal about their disagreement with your choices is never easy but you get what you get, right? Ultimately, we are the parents and we decide how to raise our children.”
Additional Information on Homeschooling
For those interested in learning more about homeschooling, the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) will host a conference in the spring of 2020 in Red Deer. Zuch recalls attending one such conference before she started her homeschooling journey. Additional details about the event can be accessed at www.aheaonline.com/convention-updates/convention-2020-walking-in-truth.
To learn more about the various options available to Home Educators, visit the Alberta Home Educators’ Association’s website at www.aheaonline.com.