The most difficult part of any job or venture is starting. That is because no matter how much you have researched, observed, planned, imagined or thought you've given to the new venture, it is still unknown. Complicated by the fact that no matter where we come from, our world view is corrupted with misinformation, any decision is usually accompanied by unknowns and consequent fears and insecurities. Determining to educate your own children at home is no different. The common act of sending our children to perfect strangers, separated from parents and family, to be “trained” in the ways of the world is so ingrained that it is rarely questioned. When it is, you will discover that the system is broken and bringing it home won't fix it. To home educate requires a paradigm shift in thinking, otherwise it is bound to challenge, frustrate, and eventually terminate your resolve to teach your children at home.
There are many organizations that profit from feeding the misinformation that keeps you fearful and insecure, in order to offer what appears to be a solution, when in fact, it is not a solution that benefits you, as much as themselves. In Alberta, this is made worse and greatly complicated by the money that follows the student’s notification. There is no doubt that to change our way of thinking requires a lot of effort and faith. It is here that we must focus in order to be successful in Getting Started, so you can Run The Race and Finish Strong in your home education journey so your child can move on Beyond Home Education.
Education Unlimited trusts that you will be encouraged as you follow the steps provided to help you train and teach your child from start to finish and beyond.
Which Faith Foundations?
No matter what foundational world view we hold, we tend to group everything that does not reflect our perspective as a singular rival alternative to our own. We desire to serve you where you are and would like to direct you, in consideration of your personal perspective.
The Christian Perspective
Education Unlimited comes from a Christian perspective; however, we are quick to point out that there is a big difference between a perspective of knowledge, faith and wisdom based solidly on biblical principles and one of religious convictions born out of tradition. The first is directed by God, the other by man. When we claim a Christian perspective, we should be seeking a foundational belief in the truth and authority of the Bible as the Word of God. There is a wide array of differing expressions of Christianity, all with elements of biblical truths as well as elements of tradition and error. We trust that we can get past what separates us as Christians and focus on the similarities of the faith rather than the differences. We can thus describe this perspective as...
The Biblical Perspective
Education Unlimited has a non-denominational, biblical perspective that excludes no one based on faith.
Although we do not come from a secular perspective, we are not exclusive in service. Even if we may have some fundamental differences in philosophy, it is assumed that we share some common beliefs.
- Parents have the authority with respect to their children regardless of claims otherwise.
- Parents teaching their children in the safety of their home are better than strangers in a school.
- Parents usually desire the best for their children and take that responsibility seriously.
- Parents are usually best able to meet the individual learning needs of their children.
The staff of Education Unlimited comes from a biblical world view foundation and, as such, will be advising parents from this perspective. Believing this perspective to represent the truth allows us to speak frankly, as truth needs no defence and speaks for itself through common sense. Our goal is to enable, equip and encourage home education, regardless of philosophical differences.
What Is Your Home Education Experience?
One's starting point will determine the best approach to take when "getting started".
Where Is Your Home Education Starting From?
There are different needs for those who have sent their children to school from those who haven't.
Having Never Sent Your Children To School…
…is the best position to start from as the children have not been negatively influenced by the normalization of school. In this case, it is mostly the parents who need to be trained as the students are usually fine with being at home. The best advice we can give is to just be a family that has fun and enjoys life. Remember, it is not your responsibility to create something of the child, as God has already completed His creation and has decreed that it is "very good".
Here are some facts one should consider in preparation for educating children at home:
- There is no documented case of a school, church or government ever having given birth to children!
- Children are born of parents and are given the best environment for raising them— the family home!
- Doing what everybody else does results in having what everybody else has— don’t play school!
Education Unlimited has found that if parents avoid sending their children to school there are fewer issues to address in the home education program.
If You Have Sent Your Children To School…
…congratulations on having realized that home education is a better choice. Home education is best defined as a parent-directed program delivered outside the structured learning environment of a school. The first thing you will have to do is to start thinking in a different way when it comes to education. You have already learned that school does not always work well for everyone. This is because school treats students as common, standardized, programmable beings that should be learning in step with what someone, who knows nothing of your child, has determined should be learned and when it should be learned. This fits few individual students, so most just put in the time and develop a bad attitude about learning. The longer they have been within the system, the worse the attitude. This is what you will have to deal with in the beginning. It is more difficult to start from this point, but not impossible. Once the school issues have been properly dealt with, home education becomes a learning experience for the parents as much as for the students.
Education Unlimited has found that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time a student has spent in school and the potential for staying with home education.
Home Educating But Needing A Change?
Although there is a wide range of home educating experiences, they can be summarized by who is in control of the program. If one desires freedom, one need look no further than Education Unlimited!
Needing To Escape From Blended Programming
There are a number of reasons people get involved with blended programming. Many choose it because they believe the government to be the best determiner of what a child should learn. Others are concerned for their children’s post-secondary options, while some are lured with greater amounts of funding. No matter what the reason for getting involved, all are based on ignorance of the facts. Few people read and understand the fine print before signing on the dotted line. This leaves two groups of people who choose blended programming: those who know, or think they know what they are getting involved with, and those who don’t. Those who are aware of what they are doing should know what the rules for the blended portion of the home education program are. The blended portion of the program is to be delivered by a certificated teacher (not a parent representative) following the Alberta Programs of Study (not a facsimile) using the provincially approved resources (not Christian resources). Anything otherwise is simply not following the rules.
Involvement in blended programming is very intensive and often frustrating. Parents and students who have had enough of being told what, when, how and where things will be done, and then chastised for not doing so, quickly lose their appreciation for this type of home based learning and either go back to school or look for something a little less intrusive and intensive. Programs not following government curriculum are collectively referred to as traditional home education. Most boards offer it, some specialize in it, and only one understands things well enough to go beyond traditional home education to the biblical training, teaching and discipling of children. True biblical home educators are not swayed by those who would direct or enable them to compromise or capitulate on this point.
Education Unlimited has found that working with what God has instilled in children is far more successful than making them fit programming, presupposing that there is a standard way and/or a standard child. Our founder and director has dedicated a great deal of time and energy to expose the true nature of blended programming.
Looking For A New Home Education Provider
There are a large number of home education providers to choose from, but not all have the parent’s and student’s best interests in mind. It is rather unfortunate that this situation exists, as the primary reason it does is usually money. To be sure, the majority of the home education providers would vanish as quickly as the money, should legislation or funding formulas change. It would be wise, therefore, to evaluate which board you will be involved with using three major criteria and assuming a common claim to faith.
The first criterion should be: "How has this organization contributed to the general welfare of Bible-based, parent-directed home education beyond its own client group and jurisdiction?"
The second criterion should be: "Would this organization still be supporting a biblical understanding of the centrality of families, if the associated funding stopped or if home education fell under greater government control?"
The third criterion should be: "Is the school providing for home education by encouraging Christian programming or are its representatives directing or enabling high school students to acquire standardized accreditation?"
Before questioning potential providers, ask yourself how much you are willing to compromise between what God has plainly authorized parents to do and what is being offered as an alternative. If you do not see secular precepts, standardized programming and worldly wisdom as a compromise then it will not make any difference who you choose to be your provider.
Education Unlimited has worked tirelessly in advocating, advancing and defending a principled, Bible-based, parent-directed, unaccredited home education. The director, Léo Gaumont, pioneered the acceptance of non-accredited home educated students into post-secondary institutions across Canada; he has exposed the fallacy of blended programming in Alberta; and he has created one of the most comprehensive yet simple to use web sites on home education, made freely available to everyone around the world. Having been involved both within and outside the school system and having studied the provision of education over a lifetime, makes Léo a very knowledgable person in the field generally, with a particular emphasis on biblical home education. His passion is that, God willing, this ministry will continue advancing a biblical alternative to standardized public programming even if the rules or the funding for home education change.
Alberta Home Education Requirements
All children between the ages of six (6) and seventeen (17) must be registered for education somewhere in the Province. This includes the choice of registering with a public, separate, private, charter or alternative school or home based alternatives. Home educating parents are therefore required to register their children for home education, but some choose not to for philosophical or faith reasons or because they do not recognize the claimed authority for education by government. The majority of parents who do choose to register have a choice between a resident (local) public, separate or private school or a willing non-resident school board. Once chosen, the board must be notified of your intent to register your child with them. As a courtesy, parents who have had their children previously registered with another school are encouraged to communicate the fact that the child will no longer be attending. An application form will have to be completed, and depending on the provider, various other paperwork may also be required. Once registered, parents are required to meet with a certificated representative of the board twice per year.
To review the existing home education regulations, go to Alberta Home Education Regulations (A.R.145/2006).
Education Unlimited's staff is familiar with government requirements and will help parents to comply as simply as possible.
Alberta Home Education Funding
Alberta is one of very few jurisdictions to fund home education. The reason the government funds home education is not stated, but when one considers how much could be saved by not funding home education, one can become suspicious of motive. Your understanding of who is actually in authority when it comes to the training of children, whether parents or government, could be the starting point to understanding the motivation behind this funding. One thing for sure, when parents accept this “generosity”, they also agree to abide by the rules that come with it, making them answerable to the government and its representatives.
Funding for home education is 25% of the base funding for a student in a public school. This year the total grant for basic home education is $1670.80 per child with half ($835.40) mandated to parents for resources. Without actually being stated, home education parent resource funding is made available to parents for the purchase of educational supplies and services. However, how this money is spent is not outlined, nor is it restricted. This governmental oversight has resulted in parents and providers using parent resource funding for dubious claims. One can assume that kitchen equipment, shop tools, musical instruments, furniture, materials used for household renovations, landscaping, sheds, skating rink and playground construction, to mention just a few examples, would likely not fall under educational supplies and services. Yet, parents often choose which provider to register with based on what the provider is willing to cover with the funding. With the provincial education ministry providing no rules, policies, guidelines or directives for the proper use of this funding, parents and providers can, and do, engage in questionable ethics.
One must take care when choosing either a resident or non-resident school board, whether it be public or private, as anyone can have the appearance of desiring what is best for the parents and students when in fact, other more sinister motivations may prevail. This may seem like a cynical statement, but funding, while nice to have, has a history of bringing out the worst in people and organizations. Those professing a moral code of ethics should not engage in such activities.
Parents are advised to understand how funding is distributed and to be acquainted with the intended purpose behind the provision of funding. It is also fair to say, that the more public programming being offered, the more money is involved, indicating that government would like to see more public programming utilized in the homes and are willing to pay a premium to have it delivered.
Blended programming also may not be what it seems. Properly understood, it is fundamentally based in financial benefits to the provider rather than the children’s best interest. The funding of home education has had the unfortunate result of children sometimes being viewed as a form of currency rather than the precious little people God has created, and has occasionally resulted in parents “selling” their children to the highest “bidder”.
One more point regarding this unsavoury topic of money. It is with heartfelt sadness that this comment must be stated. Parents are advised to question providers, as unethical practices may be used in the unprincipled pursuit of increasing market share along with the corresponding funding.
Education Unlimited also benefits from registering for home education, but market share or money has never been our motivation. We are serious regarding the stewardship of funds, intending to see it benefit our students, our parents, our school and other ministry needs such as this website.
On The Question Of Programming
One of the greatest concerns beginning home educators have is what should be done. Most tend to have too high an expectation of themselves and their children and so it is not uncommon for new home educating moms to burn out as they attempt to accomplish the impossible. Most of this can be blamed on the accepted assumption that school is the standard of how an education should be delivered by applying similar approaches in the home. Since most parents are products of the school system, it is normal for them to simply replay what they have experienced.
The following few points are intended to answer the most pressing questions you may have about educating your children at home:
- Since no two people are the same, any claim to a standard is illegitimate.
- Parents in a family home, not teachers in an institution, are best qualified and most motivated to set reasonable expectations which meet the individual needs of each child.
- Children are born learning. All parents need to do is provide opportunity and direction to this natural process. Children do not need a curriculum to learn, however, most parents find that using a curriculum can give them a sense of direction and accomplishment. The only bad curriculum is one that does not accomplish the goals and expectations of parents and children.
One more thing. Trust us when we say readiness is a major factor in encouraging a love of learning. Don't do anything until the child is truly ready. You will know when that time comes.
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