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Alberta Home Education Association

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Living Within A Lockdown

21.01.Living-Within-A-Lockdown Children are struggling with isolation, and parents are worried.

Parents have not only been processing the demands of the lockdown personally but assessing how it has been affecting their family – and more specifically, their children. The costs have been real in a multitude of ways throughout our society. And there is a very specific concern about the effects of the drawn-out lockdown on children that we need to address.

"According to pediatric disease specialist Dr. Ari Joffe, children living through the COVID-19 lockdowns are often facing family financial stress, family violence, loneliness, hunger, inactivity, and disrupted educational opportunities. This will result in "permanent profound impacts on their future quality of life, educational achievement, earning potential, lifespan, and health care utilization.""[i]

No one is living a 'normal' life – including home educators. Although we all are generally used to being together more than most families, and have likely coped better because of it, my son quipped that all the worry about home educated students not getting socialized has now become a government enforced mandate. A lack of socialization is hardly something that any home educating parent ever intends to be true, and in fact, it has been proven to be false for decades, even though the question is often still something we get asked. Studies have shown that the civic participation of adults that were home educated are higher than the comparable population.[ii] These activities do not suddenly start after they graduate, but are instilled in our children as they are brought up, covering participation areas that include political, sports, cultural, religious and community, service and more.

The lockdown mandates have been very stressful for some home educating families from the beginning due to various circumstances, but concern has been growing as the health orders have been extended from the initial two-week request. A parent's patience and desire to be a good citizen has been challenged by the isolation effects they are seeing in their children. AHEA parents are used to being able to make wise decisions about the welfare of their children. Having their ability to help them thrive curtailed, and in a way that lacked the civic process we are proud to regularly participate in, has been chaffing. Always an active population, this has now resulted in calls to their MLA's and various government offices in increasing numbers.

AHEA has been in communication with the Education Department and the Education Minister's office to highlight the concerns we have for our home education community's children. Our efforts have focused on a realistic, specific and healthy solution to this problem of isolation. Home education is a different model than the public-school model, and we require clear direction that applies to us. Interestingly, we are joined in this grey zone by another group that is being forced to experience this – public school distance learners. Therefore, we feel that there should be language that allows for different supportive learning situations. This includes more than 'a co-op,' as the current exceptions for those going to the school buildings or in school co-ops are not unquestioningly applicable to other scenarios.

AHEA has also stated that we would be unwilling to have home education families required to agree to further regulations or oversight for their children to have the freedom to interact with other children. Some families have been concerned that this is the cost that may be required to regain their ability to interact. AHEA believes in the individual, God-given responsibility of parents to do what is in the best interests of our children, and appreciate our Section 2 Charter Rights to our freedoms of peaceful assembly and association. Home education children are used to going to extra-curricular activities, music lessons, sports, clubs, and things as simple as the playground. Children of all ages need to interact, not only those in some models on a school playground.

Home education has received no covid related supports yet that AHEA is aware of. While we have been patiently waiting are response on our outstanding request for support due to the unprecedented growth, we feel that this reasonable request to address our children's social interactions is critical to see movement on shortly. We have further asked that the government speak in terms of a number of families, not a specific number of people, to accommodate different family sizes. Each family is unique and we support a range from those with a single child to those with larger families. We note that the government's guidelines in the school re-entry documents define a cohort as, "A COVID-19 cohort, also referred to as a bubble, circle, or safe squad, is a small group whose members are always the same people, and who do not always keep two meters apart. Cohorts in schools will generally be the size of one class."[iii] We need similar flexibility for our children so we can fulfill education plans made in the fall.

AHEA has been informed that the Minister and her staff at the Alberta Education department are currently working out the details to address this. They have said that they have received polite and respectful, yet firm and persistent, calls from parents. You are making a difference by reaching out to them, as well as calling your MLA's to lay the groundwork of support that is needed to ensure this is actionable.

AHEA is determined and expectant, and will be informed of a decision in short order. We are all working together to address the issue, and where there is a will there is a way. Stay tuned for the next turn in what has become our 'corporate life story,' and please continue to push for changes that will let us get back to our individual ones. It was ever so much more interesting when there was not a common narrator!


HELP US HELP YOU – SUPPORT AHEA TODAY!


[i] https://tnc.news/2021/01/17/just-the-facts-the-harms-of-the-lockdown/?fbclid=IwAR2lXGlj3BXapPxLFQKn6Eq8lHjhErtkKByXXfS8GMFufNG1jiEQPrYy9DQ

[ii] https://cche.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/2009StudyPrint-1.pdf, pg. 4

[iii] https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/41e1a5ec-7069-45cc-a3a5-6ff0b26a98a6/resource/ecf3c2c9-b3f5-4c8a-b076-0237cf95d720/download/edc-resource-guide-covid-19-cases-school-settings-2021-01.pdf pg. 5.

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AHEA’s First Executive Director – An Investment in Our Future

21.01.18.AHEAs-First-Executive-Director---An-Investment-in-Our-Future

Today the AHEA Board is pleased and excited to announce it has put into place its first Executive Director. This completes the multi-year work of previous Boards started in 2018 to address the demands on the organizational structure due to its high level of activity on behalf of the home education community. The forward momentum that we have been building will continue with our inviting Shawna Sundal to accept the position of our new Executive Director.

Shawna's giftings and Board experience, coupled with a passion for all things AHEA and a tireless drive to serve, make her well suited for the position. We are confident that she will be able to continue aiding AHEA in capably advocating for the interests of the home educators in Alberta. Please join us in supporting Shawna as our new Executive Director, as AHEA continues the work that we have been doing for 35 years!

"It is great to hear that AHEA has taken the step to hire an Executive Director to execute the goals and purpose of the Association as determined by the Board of Directors. In my 2 years on the Board it was my strong encouragement to the Board of the day to consider hiring for such a position. To expect volunteer board members from all across the province to provide good governance, while providing management oversight in day-to-day operations is too much to expect of parents already working hard to home educate their children. I wish the Board the very best and believe the hiring of Shawna Sundal to fill this position will be successful for the cause of our Association."
– Brent Feyter, Previous AHEA Board Member, Exec. Director Committee Member

"Alberta has a long and proud history of school choice, including home education. Congratulations to AHEA for appointing their first Executive Director, and for serving Alberta's home schooling community for 35 years."
– Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

"The hiring of an Executive Director is a great step forward for AHEA. The number of home educating families has doubled this school year, and AHEA is offering real leadership by committing the resources needed to support our growing movement. HSLDA is privileged to partner with AHEA as the Association serves Alberta families."
– Peter Stock, President, HSLDA Canada

"As a fellow provincial homeschool organization, we would like to congratulate AHEA in Alberta for taking the step of having a full time executive director. We have known Shawna to be dedicated to the Christian homeschool movement and feel certain she will fulfill this role admirably."
– Jake and Heather Zwart, Exec. Director and Admin. Asst. for OCHEC

"In her work on AHEA's board, Shawna has demonstrated a peerless work ethic and a deep-seated concern for the well-being of Alberta's home education community. Never fearful of tackling difficult issues or "speaking truth to power," she will undoubtedly manifest these same qualities as AHEA's Executive Director."
– Michael Wagner, PhD

"Congratulations Shawna. Your attention to detail and big picture issues will be a big asset to AHEA and it's home education community."
– Judy Arnall, President, Alberta Homeschooling Association

AHEA appreciates the sentiments expressed and looks forward to fruitful work in the years ahead. The grassroots home educating community is who we work for, and we keep them the focus of our efforts. As a not-for-profit organization, we are supported by donations and via events we put on in order to maintain an independent voice representing the interest of home education families.

Help us help you, and support AHEA today.

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Being Brought Low Brings Out Our Strength

Being-Brought-Low-Brings-Out-Our-Strengt_20201212-075507_1

"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

Lest-We-Forget

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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Tips for Dads

Tips for Dads

Here are a few tips on ways you as a father can help out with your family's home education journey. I've found that friends of ours that tend to stick with home education all the way tend to be families where the dads lend as much help as possible, both on a practical, emotional and spiritual level. Thus, I exhort all you dads, both those new to home education and those further along, to keep helping as you are. I also encourage you to consider adding a few more areas in which you can help based on what I say below and by finding out from your friends how they help their wives. In what follows I'm assuming that for most of you your wife does most of the hands-on teaching. Despite the fact that as husbands, we generally have less time with our kids, I've found several ways to contribute.

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