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Alberta Home Education Association

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Being Brought Low Brings Out Our Strength

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"Coming together is a beginning,

Staying together is progress,

And working together is success."


 Henry Ford

There is no shortage of challenges for families and organizations in the world today. We are all experiencing a weariness that comes with a long battle. Although we are not fighting a physical war, we are fighting a psychological, emotional and yes perhaps even a pointedly spiritual battle. This should make us sit up and take notice. What is at risk and what are we to do about it?

AHEA has 35 years of history to look back at, with lessons learned – and many more lessons in the future I'm sure – along with many notable successes along the way as well. There is no doubt that there are particular issues that the AHEA community are dealing with. We are refocusing on our identity, common faith perspective and our financial structure, so that we can work to fight for your freedoms today and tomorrow.

Helen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." How this rings true for us! The efforts of AHEA have been focused on this very notion. If we do not have clarity about who we are, we cannot be effective at what we do. Clarity protects us externally and internally from both mission and identity drift.

So, let us consider Henry Ford's advice. Home educators came together and created AHEA. This was done with the best intentions in mind and was effective at the time. We gained acceptance as a viable educational model, which was a huge step, and achieved other game changing accomplishments you'll have to read up on! If you would like help remembering those who fought for home education freedoms in Alberta, consider buying a copy of the following booklet from AHEA: Striving for Educational Freedom in Alberta: AHEA and the Vital Effort to Defend Parental Rights available on our website store.

Staying together means that we have to remain committed to who we are so our progress is not impeded. Times change and so does the culture around us. Our 'togetherness' was started by the families of the Home School Christian Fellowship. In a changing world, a recommitment to the clarity of what brings our families together is very important.

The AHEA Board looks forward to a confirmation of their unanimous work in bringing forward a Special Resolution at the next AGM to ensure that we all remain on the same page and stay strongly committed to the common perspective we have on the work we do. Our philosophy drives our proposals and decision making. This is where our being on the same page and working together will help ensure our success. A good general will take stock of his resources and the target before committing to a battle plan. Our ongoing battle to defend, educate and advance home education, offensively and sometimes defensively, demands that we have unity in spirit.

We have not come to this point without there being a cost - some are wounded and some seek to ally themselves with others who may better represent their point of view. When I was thinking about writing this, I was doing some research and came across a devotional that I've found quite touching. It was called Learn How to Be Brought Low. I love the point they make about how God works wonders in the low places, for we have seen God at work among us, refining, directing, and blessing our group in new and special ways. "Those who know how to be brought low do not play the stoic, as if these lessons could shield us from the stabs of our sorrows. Instead, we move forward in faith, learning to let joy and sorrow mingle together in the same heart, learning what it means to feel, and speak, and act in a way that is "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10)."[i]

I believe that AHEA is in the middle of a process that is going to make us better, stronger and more prepared for the future. Our struggle, like that of a butterfly fighting its way out of a cocoon, has been necessary for us to move from one stage to another. I am excited, maybe a little nervous, but really mostly excited by what the future holds. God already knows what will happen, and I can't wait to see what and how He will be working for and through AHEA for you and your family!

"Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches,
in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake:
for when I am weak, then am I strong."

2 Corinthians 12:10

"Know this my beloved brothers:
Let every person be quick to hear,
slow to speak, slow to anger;
for the wrath of man does not produce
the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

[i] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/learn-how-to-be-brought-low

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Observing and Remembering Are Different

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The lens through which we look at the world informs our decisions/actions. This year's Remembrance Day was especially poignant for that reason. As our last surviving war veterans leave us, what they risked their lives for may be leaving us too. It is said that every generation has to defend the freedoms they have inherited or fight for the freedom they want. Failure means loss. And who in our land knows what they would risk their lives for today? Our country? Our beliefs?

Observation is mostly passive. Watching a ceremony can become part of a routine that slowly, but surely, loses its meaning. The importance that something has can be underestimated when it is not on a individual level. Passivity, in either a personal or cultural sense, means a lack of resistance that may result in submissiveness, reliance and a retreat into inaction.

Remembering in itself is a personal action. It means that we have internalized something, whether we have participated directly or not. We develop a deep appreciation for the reasoning, action and the resulting cost. Our understanding means that we are willing to pay a price for something that we value.

God asked the Israelites to remember constantly. It was a multi-generational action that was to enable them to translate history into their current situation, imbibing them with the ability to react correctly on a personal level. The beauty of the Christian faith is that it inherently challenges us to think. Questions are welcomed because there are answers. And because there are answers, we can take heart.

Today we are at a serious point in history. And because we are living history, it is vital that we take the time to remember – very carefully remember – before we take action or respond in a way that is reflexive. Though each of us have our own personal history and memories to draw from, we also have our biblical and world-wide shared history to examine and recall. We should be able to read, watch, and consider information in order to come to a conclusion for ourselves and our families, and to influence what happens in our cities, province and country. We are also starting to sense, even more critically, that our action or inaction have the ability to affect things on a world-wide scale.

Censorship is a real threat today. The Government of Canada is actively seeking ways to control what you are able to see and read, in order to affect your response to politics. This censorship will deprive you of important information – information you are entitled to as a citizen in a free country. Only in a country that is in the process of losing its freedoms, or in one that is no longer free, does the government decide what you get to base your decisions on. The next step, of course, is that you will not have to consider your position at all, for it will be provided to you.

Home educators should be aware of this tendency towards censorship, as we have fought it on a provincial level in recent years. Do you recall the efforts to have the Human Rights Code instilled in the Education Act? This would have resulted in creating an expectation about what you could teach that may have conflicted with what you explained on a personal belief level to your children. Do you recall the efforts to dictate to the independent Christian schools that they could not use biblical language in their policies? Many home educating families, who notified with these schools that had to go to court to defend their right to hold and/or teach from a religious perspective, will remember this significant battle. Yes, the threat to freedom is real in our own province.

Anyone, including home educators, who thinks that they need not concern themselves with life outside their home is committing a grave error in judgement. "Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean that politics won't take an interest in you," said Pericles. Edward R. Murrow was blunter, "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." We do ourselves, and our community, a disservice by disengaging. This is true in the normal day-to-day, and even more so in a time of unease, strain, change and crisis. Now is when we must do our best work to affect governmental responses and to see that our interests are preserved and protected.

AHEA has long stood as an independent voice for home educating families in the province of Alberta. Within the education community, we have a 35-year history of speaking up for families that are affected by government action. This has allowed us to advocate for positive change and to resist the negative. We must never forget that ongoing actions are constantly required in both circumstances. And we must constantly be preparing for next steps, because there are always other groups preparing theirs.

Your direct connection with AHEA is critical to our ability to protect and speak up for your interests. The home educating family that supports AHEA's work through donations enables us to provide a voice for their interests. You can observe the work being done, or you can remember what is being done by internalizing and seeing how you are directly affected by this work… And remembering will lead to action. We need your direct financial support today, so that we can continue to support the work you do each and every day in your home. Please see our website for information on work being done on your behalf and to make a donation to keep our voice loud and strong. We need you just as much as you need us!

God gave you the rights that we are all endowed with, and men died for the freedoms you have enjoyed. Let us ensure that we work hard to have an informed, nuanced, biblical and educated perspective in order to take appropriate actions today. We need to remember and take action, instead of just being observers. 

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It's Time - Funding Home Education Children with Special Needs

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Our current government promotes Choice in Education. Funding for children with special needs whose families have chosen Home Education requires examination. Currently, there is no funding for diagnosis and supports for children with diverse learning needs under The Home Education Regulations, The Guide to Education, and the Funding Manual.

AHEA (Alberta Home Education Assoc.), PCE (Parents for Choice in Education) and AHA (Alberta Homeschooling Assoc.) are pleased to work together to survey our supporters. This survey will help us to collaboratively advocate for change in this growing area of home education. If you are a home educating family that has children with special needs, please answer the questions carefully. Thank you in advance for your time.

The survey will be open from November 6th to November 27th – Please ensure that your voice is heard! 

You can complete the survey here.

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Home Education Accessibility Needs To Be Addressed

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AHEA knows that becoming a home educator is supposed to be accessible all year round. We started discussing the fact that the volume of people looking at home education was going to create a bottle neck at our July meeting with Minister LaGrange. We observed that covid was creating waves in the education world. There had already been an influx of interest by families who liked their child learning at home with them, now followed by those who are nervous, and potentially more who are unwilling or unable to work within the new school context for many reasons. The normal trickle of 'rescue' families by boards that are not eligible for funding may be a steady flow during this unusual year. We asked the Minister to have a plan in place to adjust funding after Sept. 30th.

Now that the September 30th Count Date has passed it has clearly become more difficult for families to access home education. AHEA has seen messages going up each day, looking for groups that are willing to accept families. It concerns us greatly that there has not been an official and public answer that addresses this disparity in access. The need for access was brought up early in order to head off the problem which is now being experienced by potential home education families. We are seeing 'registration closed' or acceptances with a fee or donation required, if a home can be found at all. This is certainly far from providing equal access or access to ideologically aligned supervision if it is desired. Notification only, no funding is but one of the choices that Alberta Education offers. We'd like to see parents continue to have ALL their choices in educational matters for their children.

Parents should know that the home education model is a valid, accessible, year-round choice. AHEA is counting on AB Education and the Minister working together with the home education community to ensure that this is the message being sent or perceived, publicly or within our community. The current logjam must be resolved quickly so as to not dishearten those who wish to become home educators this year. That is why AHEA is making this exceptional request regarding funding and has given a proposal for their consideration. Stay tuned.

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Did you know... that you do not have to talk to the school or previous place you had your children with? 

NOTIFYING WITH SOMEONE NEW IS ALL YOU NEED TO DO!

Many parents get talked out of their decision when they advise someone that they are leaving. This results in an attempt to retain their 'business.' When your notification is entered into the PASI system, the old place you were with will no longer be able to count you - the files will be transferred automatically.  Spread the word! 

*This year it was a courtesy to advise any home education associate board if you were making a change as they have been flooded with inquiries. Public schools had been making personal calls to ask families what they are choosing. Remember, the choice is totally yours - there is no requirement to disclose your choice to anyone except as required by your new notification recipient.


AHEA is a not-for-profit organization that appreciates the support of the community. Donations to AHEA can be made here.

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Welcome to the Web

Welcome to the Web

Alberta Education's Home Education webpage has been updated in response to AHEA's feedback. Home educators should find the refreshed information reflective of the current options available to them. AHEA has been pleased to collaborate with the Alberta Department of Education to ensure that families starting to consider home education will have the clarity of content they need, provided in a welcoming expression that reflects our community. Stay tuned for an update on the Home Education Handbook this fall!

Please make sure to refer new home educators to AHEA's own website for more helpful information and to stay up-to-date on the advocacy work that AHEA does year-round on their behalf. They will also want to be informed about future events like the annual AHEA Convention, looked forward to by families from across the province, with inspiring speakers and a large exhibit hall to browse.

AHEA is a not-for-profit organization that appreciates the support of the community.
Donations to AHEA can be made here

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Where Are You When It Counts?

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Where do you have to physically be on the fast approaching Count Date of September 30th?

Home educators in Alberta have long made adjustments to their plans to accommodate an almost problematic rule which demanded they be in province. When AB Education updated the Funding Manual last week they addressed this issue, which AHEA had been advocating that they review and modify. Clarifying the physical location a home education family on the Count Day of September 30th, we are very pleased to advise that the manual now states on page 61,

"4. Home education / Shared Responsibility students and their parents who ordinarily reside in Alberta on the September count date of the current school year."

This is a wonderful change from what it previously stated, "Home Education / Shared Responsibility students and their parents must reside in Alberta on the September count date of the current school year."

We hope you all enjoy this additional freedom to make plans that do NOT have to center around Count Day because you count every day!

                                                                          AHEA - Working Hard For You!

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Grade One Funding Manual Update

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This week AB Education updated their funding manual to clarify access to Grade One. We are pleased that this was put into the manual as a note so that consistent application and understanding are ensured instead of case-by-case or call-by-call basis, which has lead to exceptions and misunderstanding in the past. 

Here is an excerpt from page 139, see 3's Note:https://open.alberta.ca/publications/1485-5542

3. is at least 5 years and 8 months or older and eligible to enter Grade 1 according to the school entrance age policy of the school jurisdiction, but less than 20 years of age on September 1 in the school year in which he/she is counted. 

Note for the 2020/21 school year only: Due to the transition to the new age of entry in kindergarten, a one-time exception will be made to allow students who are at least 5 years 6 months of age to be counted as a home education student if they are starting grade 1 and meet all other funding requirements.

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Our Count Runneth Over

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September is upon us all with the 'Bang!' of a starting gun in a marathon! Students are refocusing on their studies, moms and dads are re-calibrating their days for fall activities and AHEA continues in its multiple pursuits on your behalf. Let's look at some of the challenges we are currently facing, foresee and the solutions that we are working for.

We must first note that AHEA is blessed to have so many veteran home educators amongst us. A multitude of the parents who are new to home educating already know or have been in touch with others who know home education intimately, and that it is a wonderful testimony to the synergy in the home education community. AHEA works to support the efforts of our community as many of you reach out and open your homes and hearts to those who are finally taking that step or have considered and made the decision in a very short time. An abundance of resources and information can be gleaned from the AHEA website or our AHEA Facebook page. You also can subscribe in the right-hand column on the Political Updates page to receive updates directly to your mailbox. Keep checking for news on the upcoming April 8-10, 2021 AHEA Convention here.

Many associate and independent associate school boards that provide supervision to home educators have been advising that their numbers and staff have doubled in size, if not more. Taking on new families and students have found a very competitive market in the last couple of months. Last year home education was 1% of education stats in Alberta, so we all anticipate with excitement the September 30th Count Day figures, but we realize that is not the end of the story.

AHEA has been advocating for several months with the Minister and the Education Department as a whole to work on a plan to anticipate the potential capacity and demand issues for home education in the current environment. We are so pleased that home education will see so many new families joining us and want to ensure that even more families continue to have the choice to move to home education during the rest of the year even if they receive no funding due to moving after September 30th. While the home education community has for years adopted this type of family with no qualms and just a gracious eye to the future of home education, this seems unlikely to be as manageable or simple this year. Home education must be a viable option year-round!

Many changes and exceptions have been granted the other educational models due to the need to be flexible this year, including the fact that additional funds have been flowing to ease and accommodate the unusual needs and situations. While AHEA does not typically ask for extra funding, this may be a year where it is necessary to look at some compensation mid-year for associate boards to continue onboarding anyone changing their educational decision during the year as they are being offered quarterly choices in the public system. AHEA not only wants families to be able to start home educating if they decide to opt out of the public system, but we want to ensure that they have the choice to start with an ideologically aligned supervising authority who will support them in the ways that they may need.

Of course, this fall also brought in the Notification Only, No Funding (NONF) option, effective September 1, 2020. AHEA was pleased to see the fruition of its advocacy and the implementation of the unsupervised option. The new Parents for Choice in Education Executive Director, Jeff Park, correctly notes in their last article that NONF is a huge win and Alberta is now the best place to home educate in North America due to the variety of choices! AHEA advocates for something that money cannot buy – the freedom of parents to make the best choices for their child.

Now that the option itself has been made a reality, it is time for us to work on honing the verbiage around it in the recently released and updated Home Education Regulations. There was so much activity this fall that sufficient attention to the wording of the regulations around this option within the department may have overlooked important clarifications. However, AHEA had already started addressing this and will continue to do so, along with other Alberta partners in education like Parents for Choice in Education, who concur that while checks and balances are to be expected, there is room and a need to refine the current regulations.

Overall, it's been an exceptional year of progress for the provincial advocacy work of AHEA, and we look forward to continuing to interact with the government on behalf of home education families who highly value their ability to home educate and the freedom to deliver a customized program for their children. One of the items that AHEA has already started pursuing is the funding for special needs children who are home educated. More information will be coming out on this as work progresses and as we collect information from our families.

            Watch for upcoming opportunities to attend
AHEA 2020 Fall Talks – How Our Work and Future Affect You!!

Consider supporting AHEA – Working for YOU! 

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Press Gallery: CBC Edmonton AM - How homeschool is changing this September

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Press Gallery: CBC News - New Alberta law creates more options for home educators and charter schools

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