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Patriot Academy – Crash Course

Patriot Academy Crash Course – History & Government

Whether you’ve been homeschooling for years or suddenly find yourself thrust into the exciting and amazing opportunity to school from home, Patriot Academy has an inspiring, entertaining, and educational way for you to spend a few afternoons together.

Join other families across the nation as we bring history to life with Chasing American Legends, and live questions and commentary with the Green Family and our special guests including Brad Stine, David Barton, Sam Sorbo, Dr. Alveda King, George Washington, Pastor Jonas Clarke, and more!

You’ll enjoy a full episode of Chasing American Legends with live Q&A and commentary with everyone from the show. Then we’ll jump into Constitution Alive! for a citizen’s review of the U.S. Constitution and live Q&A with Rick Green, America’s Constitution Coach.

4-week, 12 class event

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
May 4 through May 29
1:00-3:00 PM (CST)

Free for AFHE Members!

LOGIN to your member profile first, then click the orange LEARN MORE button below to access the members-only page we’ve created for you.

Current AFHE Members can register for this great 4-week, 12 class event for FREE.

Not an AFHE Member? JOIN TODAY and enjoy this special offer from Patriot Academy for free plus other AFHE Member benefits!

Or you may register for this event for $40 on the Patriot Academy website. 

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AFHE Home Blog Homeschool FAQ Homeschool Help Special Needs Uncategorized

Teaching Special Learners: A Good Work

by Megan Allison

Do you get excited when your child sounds out words and reads a favorite children’s book back to you? What about when he or she starts rhyming words out of the blue? Sings a nursery song? Counts to 20 all on her own? When he says “Mama” for the first time? Wonder, joy, and overflowing love is how I have felt.

How do you feel when your child does not say a word? One year passes and sounds are not turning into words. Second year: sounds, but very few words. Lost words. Concern, fear, dread, frustration. This is where I found myself almost nine years ago with my second beautiful baby boy. A happy, smiling all the time, quiet toddler. A boy without words.

Parents are eager for their children to learn. Reading great stories together bonds a family. Being able to talk and share with one another seals and deepens our relationships. When learning is cumbersome and difficult, don’t we as parents want to drill down to the problem and solve it? We quickly search for answers, wanting to waste no time getting to a solution. We search the Internet, talk to our spouse, consult friends, ask a teacher, express our concern to the pediatrician, and seek out other professionals’ opinions. When we really think there’s an issue, we want to find a diagnosis and get right to executing a plan to help our children on their educational journey. Here are six tips that I’d give myself if we were just starting out:

Take an expert’s opinion with a grain of salt 

Experts are human, too. We’ve had the same pediatrician for almost fifteen years, but when he told me that my middle son was just being lazy about talking, it didn’t make sense to me. Don’t get me wrong, experts can help us rule out diagnoses and narrow our focus. By partnering with specialists, we learned from an audiologist that our son didn’t have anything wrong with his ears and another professional determined our son has childhood apraxia of speech. We’ve tried sign language, fish oil, and crossing the midline activities. Some of these have helped, and with others I’m still debating the benefits.

I found it helpful to consult with specialized doctors, but ultimately my husband and I decided what road we would travel. I enjoyed researching about speech apraxia and many of the suggested activities because I believed I needed to educate myself in order to assist my son. I could do many of the therapy suggestions at home at no cost. Additionally, having researched apraxia, I could dialogue better with the professionals we were seeing on a regular basis. I was equipped when the time came that we decided to go ahead with speech therapy, but not pursue vision therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy.

Have patience

Our children are keenly aware that they are having difficulty. I’ve learned and I’m still trying to do better that our children are watching us and need to see us giving them grace. Even when we’ve explained the information for what seems like the hundredth time, grin and bear it, and explain it again. Have patience with yourself, too. You are much stronger and able to do more than you’ve ever thought yourself capable. 

After hours upon hours of speech practice, I know more now than I thought possible about the development of speech, how to teach a person to talk, good advice and bad advice for parents of children with speech difficulty, and I can lip read now, too. That may seem like small potatoes, but to this gal who is more inclined toward math and science and has difficulty remembering what a demonstrative pronoun is, this is a big accomplishment.

There is no one-size-fits-all or easy solution

When a child learns differently, it can take considerable amounts of trial and error before finding what works best for your child. Research takes time, and a method that works for one family may not work for another. One of the gifts of homeschooling is that you spend the majority of the day with your child, so you know your son or daughter intimately.

One recommendation I received was to read every day to my son. I just shake my head now thinking back on that advice, because for my son the solution had nothing to do with reading to him more. The language connections between the brain, tongue, palate, and ears weren’t happening for him, and he wasn’t able to produce the sounds in order to speak no matter how many times he heard my words. He needed to be taught how to speak. 

Teaching our children is good work. Any work worth doing is going to take grit, determination, and sacrifice. I try to remember it’s like growing a garden. You don’t plant today and harvest tomorrow. It’s going to take time with days of watering, weeding, fertilizing, more weeding, removing bad bugs, and finally harvesting. The fruit is a result of the hard work put in. I’m a few years in now with teaching, and the blessings and rewards have made all the work worth it.

Don’t give up too quickly on a method

Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes a memory, so keep repeating grammar rules and math facts over and over again. Each time you practice, the brain is making those synapses fire, and it’s laying down that pathway for memorization to happen. I encourage you to keep plugging along with the basics. Keep it fun, make it a game, use it with something your child is interested in, or let your child be the teacher.

One of the best gifts of homeschooling is that time is on your side. You’re able to tailor your child’s education, and there’s plenty of time for repetition and review. I’m not convinced that there’s one program that will quickly solve learning difficulties. You’ll have to decide if it’s time to persevere or, if you’ve given a program a lengthy, thorough trial, then it may be time to tweak it or look for something new.

Resist fear

The unknown can be scary. Panic can set in if we let ourselves entertain all the what-if questions that reach our minds. Fear is a sales tactic, and I saw it used often when we were navigating our options. But what happens when you embrace the child that you have and the situation that you’re in? Fear can immobilize, or it can motivate you to move to research, to advocate, to ask lots of questions, and to not stop at anything to help your child.

Look back over the tips. Decide where you are in your journey and identify your next step. Are you just beginning and need to research? Are you knee deep in a method that you should keep persisting in, but with some adjustments? Today, decide to look fear in the face and use it to propel forward: use it as a call to action.

Find a friend

Look outside your immediate family for who can support you. It’s heartbreaking to see your child struggling, and there is a time for grieving over your child’s difficulties. It is often a lonely walk, especially when your child looks normal from the outside, and few people truly understand what you are going through. Even among your family, it can be hard to share one another’s burden.

I found it helpful to get connected to a homeschool support group to make a friend. It may be as simple as reaching out to others in similar situations through Facebook or meeting regularly with someone who will listen to you. There are many in the homeschool community eager to offer support. A kind friend can encourage and refresh you, so you can return home with new strength to meet the challenges with determination and grace.

Homeschooling can be a great experience in teaching special learners.

Our son turned 11 in July. He enjoys Legos, model airplanes, and erector sets. He is still a quiet, sweet child, but has occasional moments when he talks a mile a minute. He graduated speech therapy a few years ago. He seems to struggle with memorizing for the long term, but we call him our walking thesaurus because he can impressively change out words he’s supposed to memorize for a similar word. He understands the big picture. We’re in a season of repetition and review.

Homeschooling has been a great experience for us as we explore the things he likes and spend extra time as needed on memory work. There are no monthly educational assessments, and I love that he has plenty of time to play, take field trips, build all kinds of things, be a boy, and work at his own pace. Surprisingly, this work I am doing is changing me, molding me into a stronger, more disciplined, and more patient, compassionate person. My hope is that you find encouragement in my story and the strength to press on another day taking it one day at a time, knowing each step is a step forward.

Megan Allison lives in Glendale. She enjoys raising her three boys to love and serve the Lord. Megan actively serves on the board of her local support group where she encourages families in their homeschool journeys. She is passionate about equipping homeschoolers with the tools for success in their homes and communities. She desires to live out Titus 2:3-5. In her spare time, Megan likes to jog, spend time in nature, and date her husband Tim.

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AFHE Home AFHE News Blog Uncategorized

AFHE Announces Retirement of Executive Director

April 16, 2020

From Nancy Manos, Executive Director

After 16 years of serving the Arizona homeschool community as part of AFHE, I am retiring from my position with the organization. I value the work AFHE does and count it a great privilege to have served alongside so many amazing men and women who are passionate about this work. It’s been a joy over the years to build beautiful connections and friendships, and to use my gifts to serve families and support the work of AFHE as we inspire, promote, and preserve homeschooling in Arizona. I will continue in my role as executive director through May.

The AFHE Board is united in mission and their care for each of you. They will continue encouraging and equipping parents and protecting homeschool freedom in our great state. James and I believe God has a great plan for AFHE and we know He will lead and guide the board through this transition. I’m excited to see what God does in this next season for AFHE and for myself as well. Personally, I look forward to some downtime to quilt, write, visit our grandboys, enjoy a slower pace, and see where God leads. AFHE has a 37-year history and a rich heritage of service that will continue well into the future. Please continue supporting your statewide homeschool organization. They are doing important work!

From AFHE Board of Directors

The AFHE Board of Directors is truly grateful to Nancy for her years of dedicated service to homeschool families. Through her tireless efforts, vision for growth, and pursuit of excellence, AFHE has equipped and empowered many thousands of parents to give their children the gift of a home-based education. We are excited for Nancy as she moves to a new chapter of life where she will be able enjoy more time with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. Finally, we are grateful to Nancy for continuing to serve our community through to ensure a smooth transition.

There are exciting days ahead for AFHE. The vision and work of AFHE is possible because of the dedication of homeschool parents like James and Nancy Manos, who have had a vision for both educating their children and serving as many other homeschool families as possible. That pattern and example of service continues in the work of AFHE, our Board of Directors, our committed staff and volunteers, and the vibrant community of homeschoolers throughout Arizona.

 

 

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AFHE Home Blog Early Education Uncategorized

The Work of a Child

by Kathryn Graunke

It was just another spring cleaning event, except this time I was going to finally tackle the toys in the closet. You may not know how funny this is: my kids are mostly adults now. Obviously, I’ve been putting it off for years. I might have needed these things, right? Lincoln Logs and LEGOs are such a hot item for high school projects. I had to ask myself, “Why is this such an emotional event? Kids grow up. All kids outgrow their toys.”

The answer was really about the last 20+ years of homeschooling. These weren’t just toys. They were the memories of our school. You see, we played school. It wasn’t “playing school” in the sense of a kid standing at a chalkboard while another child sits at a desk. It was playing whatever we were learning. It was serious kid play.

Westward Expansion: There was that Daniel Boone cap and wooden knife. Ancient Egypt: A Pharaoh’s headdress. Ancient Rome: They played the game Conquest of the Empire and learned about building cities, geography, and even inflation. I found a Robin Hood hat, a Playmobile Viking ship, castles and knights, math games, and my personal favorite: Civil War costumes made by the boys. One was Grant, and the other was Lee.

My husband likes to say that they had a charmed childhood. Learning, playing, being creative, and having fun was all wrapped up in one!

Homeschooling has greatly expanded and changed in the last twenty years. I see posts online all the time from the moms who are just beginning this journey with their little ones. “What curriculum should I buy? How do I keep grades? Should we do an online, accredited school?” These are all valid questions, especially considering the number of options that are out there. I didn’t have those options.

I started homeschooling before there was this thing called internet in our home.  We checked out books from the library on every imaginable subject. We delved deeply into new history and science unit study topics every year. We spent weeks with the Wright brothers and an entire semester with Lewis and Clark. We built a model car and spent a month learning about combustion and gears. And I think we renewed that DK book on World War II planes and weapons more times than we were allowed! School was fun.

Eventually, the play-based school gave way to high school textbooks and serious study. Biology, Chemistry, Algebra, SAT prep, choosing a college major. Organized sports, competitive academics, and dual enrollment kept us busy all the time. It was a very natural progression. They had developed a genuine love of learning.

Looking back, I guess I never had time to clean that closet. That’s ok. It was a beautiful reminder of a profound idea: the work of a child is play.

With over 20 years of homeschooling experience, Kathryn has launched three of her four children into college and beyond. Experienced with various homeschooling methods, project-based competitions, gifted education, academic scholarships, and dual enrollment, Kathryn enjoys mentoring both parents and students in homeschooling through high school. She has a bachelor’s degree in math education and is a passionate STEM education advocate. She has coordinated and taught various STEM classes, including state and national award-winning teams. With her youngest in high school, Kathryn’s current job titles are veteran homeschool mom, dedicated robotics mom, enthusiastic swim mom, and proud grandma.

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AFHE Home Blog Encouragement Homeschool Help Uncategorized

Homeschooling Under Hardship

“Sylvia, you are going to have to learn to share the load.”

I had just poured out to the counselor how I wasn’t sure how I was going to homeschool our four children while running the household and maintaining my 30-hour work week. My husband’s health was improving, but he wasn’t well yet. I was overwhelmed with the thought of all the things that needed to be done in a day, already feeling like a failure before the school year even started.

The counselor, honest and kind, sat across from me and told me I couldn’t do it all.

I cried.

A year before this conversation, our family looked fairly typical in the homeschooling community: dad went to work full-time, mom stayed home and took care of kids and homeschooled. I worked part-time but mostly for extra-budget things like vacations, and only ten hours a week. I taught co-op classes, was involved in church, and had started slowly working toward a degree in nursing.

My husband, Kevin, had dealt with anxiety issues for most of his adult life, but it was managed with a low dose of medication and created little interference. At the end of 2017, a car accident and a series of extremely stressful work situations took their toll on him, and he began having up to ten panic attacks a day. It finally became apparent that he needed to leave his job in order to address his health crisis. At the same time, a part-time job at my church matching my skills opened up. Within a short period of time we turned into a  family where mom worked two part-time jobs and dad was home sick … and summer break was coming to an end.

After I cried with the counselor, Kevin and I sat down and made a plan where he taught two days a week and I taught two days a week (he worked from home the days I taught, I went to work the days he taught). He wasn’t able to drive long distances, but he could go to the grocery store around the corner. He made dinners a couple nights a week. On days he felt really bad, we let things roll. We went to counseling. He found a better medicine. Things improved a little at a time. Eighteen months later, we have learned a few things about homeschooling in hardship

1. My expectations are my worst enemy

I had a picture in my mind of what homeschooling and homemaking should look like. I began to feel overwhelmed when I couldn’t make the picture match my reality. What I learned is that the flexibility of homeschool was a huge gift in our crisis. Dad could teach school, we could have evening class (or Saturday!), and I could modify curriculum or even stop a subject for a while. I know a family who dealt with a serious health emergency by taking a break from school completely for a season. I have the freedom to make school work with our whole life, not dominate it.

2. Grieve the losses

It’s all right to be sad over things that aren’t the way you want. My youngest child was seven when I went to work. She’d cry and cling to me as I’d leave. In the beginning I was  defensive, but then I learned to say, “I miss you too when I’m gone. It’s hard to be away from you.” I had to put my own schooling on hold. My husband wants to be well. These are sad things and we’ve cried over them.

3. Gratitude allows me to celebrate

There are things in my life that are good. When I get too grumpy, too overwhelmed, or tempted to turn to bitterness over how things are, gratitude realigns my heart. I’m grateful for a husband who does the hard work to get better. I’m grateful for a household full of love. I’m grateful for the other families I’ve found who are surviving really tough things who understand what it feels like to walk through the fire. I’m grateful for a God who never leaves me. I’m grateful I still get to teach my children.

4. Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others

Here’s the honest truth: I am TERRIBLE at this. If we were on an airplane and the cabin depressurized, my first inclination would be to help everyone else put on their masks until I collapsed. In life, if I fall apart because I neglect myself, no one gets help.  I’m learning that it isn’t selfish to say no to a legitimate request because it’s more than I can do. It isn’t wrong to sometimes use my precious free time to do something I want to do instead of something someone else wants to do. It’s okay to take a nap, delegate a task, give 85% of myself to an activity instead of 100%, or spend money on an item that makes my life easier. Balance means we all get a turn receiving care, and that includes me.

5. Suffering is a teacher, not a punishment

We live in a fallen world and lots of things are broken, which means suffering happens to all of us. Walking through it has solidified my trust that God is good and He sustains me. Suffering is not caused by my lack of faith or disobedience. God does not sit in Heaven shaking His head at my fragility and failure. My circumstances are not something God is doing to me, but something He is walking with me. In it, He has gently shown me my own pride, rebellion, idolatry, and lack of faith, which points me back to His goodness and grace.

6. The long-term crisis is not less valid than the big emergency

We are in this stage now. I call it the slow burn, the fatigue that’s caused by stress over a long period of time. Maybe there was a major event, but the long-term grind can be just as exhausting. I’ve found that those with long-term illnesses or those grieving the loss of a loved one have much to teach me about endurance. I work hard to continue to talk about it, to ask for help, to acknowledge when it is hard, and to reevaluate and change if necessary.

You are not alone

If you are in the middle of hardship, you are not alone. I found out that there were many families around me who homeschooled as they dealt with situations that disrupted their plans. Because they were willing to talk about their challenges, I was brave enough to share my own. This may be my new “normal” life, but I know I have others who walk with me in it. And while I will never say I’ve enjoyed the experience of suffering, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned from it.

Sylvia Miller lives in Phoenix. She and her husband, Kevin, have the privilege of co-discipling their four children through homeschool. Sylvia works part-time and is going to school verrrrrry slowly with the goal of becoming a nurse in the next eight years. She finds joy in flowers, people-watching in airports, and phone conversations with friends.

Questions about homeschooling in Arizona? We’re here to help!

Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE) is the statewide homeschool organization here in Arizona. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit run by a board of directors made up of couples who are all homeschooling parents ourselves.

homeschool@afhe.org
602-235-2673 ext. 1

HELPFUL ARTICLE TO READ
Homeschooling in Arizona

FIND A HOMESCHOOL GROUP
Arizona Homeschool Groups

 

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AFHE Home Blog Legislative Updates

Protecting Child Safety and Homeschool Freedom

by Allison Gentala, AFHE Board Member and Director of Government Affairs

On March 24, 2020, HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) Senior Counsel Darren Jones published the blog post Harvard Summit to Discuss Regulating Homeschooling. AFHE has received numerous questions from our members and the Arizona homeschool community about this summit to be hosted by Harvard University’s Child Advocacy Program, with concerns about the potential impact on homeschool freedom. On behalf of AFHE, I’d like to provide some background as well as action you can take.

Child safety is crucial

AFHE believes every child should be safe and free from abuse. Abuse of a child should always be reported. It’s the law. Under Arizona’s mandatory reporter law, all parents must report to law enforcement and state child safety officials if they have a reasonable belief that their child is being or has been abused. Additionally, all adults are mandatory reporters for children for whom they have temporary custody or care (e.g. teachers, physicians, Sunday school teachers, etc.).

Learn more about reporting child abuse in Arizona at dcs.az.gov.

Parental rights protect children

We believe parents have the right to be the primary decision-makers for their children. Therefore, we also believe parents have the right to make educational decisions for their children. Regrettably, abuse occurs within every education option. However, research shows homeschooling has the lowest rate of abuse among the various education options studied. Limiting or regulating homeschool freedom has not been shown to have any correlation to improved child safety.

Find research and more at homeschoolingbackgrounder.com

About the summit

AFHE has been aware of the summit at Harvard for several months. We have been in ongoing communication with state homeschool leaders from across the country as we seek ways to best protect homeschool freedoms here in Arizona.

The agenda for the summit is clear. The individuals hosting and speaking are already working aggressively across the nation to promote regulatory policy state by state. Many of these speakers are connected to an advocacy group with the express purpose of regulating homeschooling.

Truant families are not homeschool families

AFHE has been monitoring the actions of this group for quite a few years. Their tendency is to paint truancy abuse cases as a homeschool issue. In some cases, an abuse suspect may claim they homeschool in order to avoid added charges of truancy, but that doesn’t mean they were in fact homeschooling.  In Arizona, we have a legal process for a parent to homeschool their child. Only those who have filed an Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool with their County School Superintendent’s office and who provide instruction to their children in at least the subjects of reading, grammar, math, science, and social studies are legally homeschooling. This separates homeschool families from families who have truant students.

Learn more about Arizona homeschool law at afhe.org/az-law

Three ways you can help protect homeschool freedom

1. PARTNER WITH AFHE

Our volunteer government affairs team is on-site at the Arizona State Capitol weekly during each legislative session. We attend stakeholder meetings and interact with legislators throughout the year.

AFHE members receive a legislative update every session and have the opportunity to affect important legislation through action alerts when necessary. Your membership and tax-deductible donations supports a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the Arizona homeschool community and preserving the freedom we currently enjoy.

Your support makes this important work possible!

JOIN OR RENEW – AFHE Membership 
afhe.org/membership

DONATE – Make a tax-deductible donation to AFHE
afhe.org/donate

2. VOTE IN NOVEMBER

Be sure to get out this November and vote for candidates who support parental rights and school choice. It’s not unusual for the academic world to entertain radical anti-family and anti-freedom notions. Electing committed men and women who respect the freedom of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children is crucial.

One helpful resource for researching candidates is the Voter Guide from Center for Arizona Policy, which will be published closer to the election.

3. PRAY

Pray for wisdom and discernment for all involved … for our elected officials, leaders, legislators, and for those who work to protect homeschool freedom.

“Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in godliness and reverence. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

 

2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION REVIEW
Together, we can protect and preserve homeschool freedom in Arizona.

 

 

Categories
AFHE Home Blog Encouragement Homeschool Help Uncategorized

Having Conversations About Today’s Tough Stuff

Having Conversations
About Today’s Tough Stuff

with Dr. Kathy Koch

 

Watch this encouraging talk by noted child development expert Dr. Kathy Koch, celebratekids.com, for a practical and encouraging discussion about ways to help your children deal with their thoughts and feelings during difficult times. This talk was recorded live on Facebook on March 24, 2020.

Having Conversations About Today’s Tough Stuff

Children’s thoughts and feelings are always important. In times of confusion and crisis like we’re going through, they matter even more. How do we make it more likely that our children will come to us with their questions and feelings? Dr. Kathy Koch will share ideas for how to respond to help your child feel heard and safe, and provide some ideas to help you and your children navigate uncertain times.

 

About Dr. Kathy

Dr. Kathy Koch (“cook”), is the founder and president of Celebrate Kids, Inc., based in Fort Worth, Texas, and the cofounder of Ignite the Family, based in Alpharetta, Georgia. Through her speaking, she has influenced thousands of parents and children in 30 countries. She is also a popular radio guest and an author of six books. Dr. Kathy earned a Ph.D. in reading and educational psychology from Purdue University. She has loved Jesus for years and her faith and desire to serve and glorify God is the foundation of her ministry.
CELEBRATEKIDS.COM

Learn more about homeschooling in Arizona

With more than 38,000 students being homeschooled in Arizona, and more than 2.1 million students nationwide, this parent-led, privately funded education at home model has proven to be an effective and successful option for many families across the state. We’ve put together a handy blog post answering ten frequently asked questions about homeschooling in Arizona. You’ll find helpful links, resources, and more!
READ MORE

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AFHE Home Blog Getting Started Homeschool FAQ Uncategorized

Ten Questions About Homeschooling in Arizona

With more than 38,000 students being homeschooled in Arizona, this parent-led, privately funded education at home model has proven to be an effective option for many families across the state.

Perhaps you’re considering homeschooling your child. We’ve put together answers to ten frequently asked questions to help you as research and learn more.

#1 – What is homeschooling?


Arizona state law defines a homeschool

Arizona Revised Statutes §15-802 G 2
“Homeschool means a nonpublic school conducted primarily by the parent, guardian, or other person who has custody of the child or nonpublic instruction provided in the child’s home.”

Homeschoolers are parents or guardians who assume full responsibility for educating their children at home and must provide instruction in at least the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, science, and social studies pursuant to ARS §15-802.

Student Classifications

There are six general classifications of student in Arizona: Public School, Charter School, Virtual Charter School, Private School, Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA contract student), and Homeschool.

Especially for at-home education options, there can often be confusion about whether a student is a homeschooler. While the schoolwork may take place at home, neither virtual charter school students nor ESA contract students are classified as homeschoolers according to Arizona Revised Statutes. Homeschooling is a legally defined option that is distinct from all other education options in Arizona. 

Arizona Revised Statutes §15-802 (a) states: “Every child between the ages of six and sixteen years shall attend a school and shall be provided instruction in at least the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science.  The person who has custody of the child shall choose a public, private or charter school or a homeschool as defined in this section to provide instruction or shall sign a contract to participate in an Arizona empowerment scholarship account pursuant to section 15-2402.”

In the infographic to the left, we give a brief overview of each of the Arizona Education Options and the student classifications available in our state.

Learn more at AFHE.ORG/AZ-LAW


#2 – What are the advantages of homeschooling?

Homeschooling has many benefits including the following:

  • Parents are able to tailor a course of study to their child’s individual abilities, learning style, needs, interests, and future goals.
  • The flexibility to customize the pace at which the child moves through material is beneficial for concept mastery.
  • The one-on-one tutorial style of learning is highly effective.
  • Parents are able to choose the worldview through which their children are educated.
  • Learning together provides an even greater opportunity for building strong family relationships.
  • Parents have the opportunity to address character issues consistently.
  • Students often have more time to pursue areas of interest.
  • Class sizes are MUCH smaller.
  • High school students can get a jumpstart on college education or career preparation.

Homeschooling is more than an education option. It is a lifestyle of learning and discovery!

#3 – What’s required to homeschool in Arizona?

COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE AGE
Ages 6 to 16. Parents may elect to delay formal education until their child is 8 years old by noting so on the affidavit (must still file the affidavit at age 6).

ATTENDANCE
No minimum days required. Attendance tracking not required.

SUBJECTS REQUIRED
At least the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, science, and social studies. Parents select and purchase the curriculum and resources of your choice. Homeschooling allows you to move through material at a pace that works best for your child, and to customize the topics taught within each subject area.

TEACHER QUALIFICATIONS
None

NOTIFICATION
Submit a notarized Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool with proof of birth to the County School Superintendent’s office within 30 days of starting to homeschool (or within 30 days of your child’s 6th birthday if you started homeschooling earlier). The affidavit is filed once, not annually.

RECORD KEEPING / REPORTING
None required. Parents are responsible for creating their child’s high school transcript and should keep records for 9th-12th grades to calculate GPA and complete the transcript.

STANDARDIZED TESTING
None required. There are a number of private testing services that homeschool families can utilize, if desired. Read more in our testing FAQ.

 

Five Steps to Filing the Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool

  1. Download and fill out the affidavit
  2. Get it notarized
  3. Submit proof of birth with the affidavit
  4. Mail or hand deliver the affidavit and proof of birth to the County School Superintendent
  5. Get started!

Enjoy the learning adventure with your kids.

DOWNLOAD THE AFFIDAVIT HERE


#4 – How do we get started?

Homeschooling is as unique as each family that embarks upon this journey. Your homeschool is going to look different than other families’. It may take some trial and error to get into a routine that works well for you and your children.

Here are some things that you can do to help you have success as you get started.

  • Read books about homeschooling.
  • Familiarize yourself with Arizona homeschool law.
  • Find a homeschool support group in your area.
  • Talk to experienced homeschooling parents.
  • File an Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool.
  • Select and purchase your curriculum and resources.
  • Set goals for the year.
  • Get organized. Organize your home, your supplies, and your schedule.
  • Be willing to adapt as needed. Expect there to be a learning curve for you and your kids.
  • Attend the AFHE Homeschool Convention in July.

If you’re transitioning from public school to homeschool, you’ll find some very practical encouragement about what to expect in this helpful article by Laura Gadbery.
Ten Things You Might Experience Transitioning from School to Homeschool


#5 – What does it cost?

The cost of homeschooling is as varied as the individual families who teach their children at home. It depends on a number of factors including:

  • The curriculum and resources you choose
  • How many and what types of extracurricular activities your child participates in
  • Field trips and enrichment activities you choose to do
  • If you decide to have your child take a standardized test

Homeschooling does not have to be expensive, and it is a worthwhile investment in your child. 

We are often asked if there are tax credits or funding for homeschooling. We have answered that question in this article: Do Homeschoolers Get a Tax Credit?

#6 – Where do I find curriculum?

There is an abundance of curriculum and resources available to homeschooling today. Attending AFHE’s annual Homeschool Convention is a great way to view and shop for a wide variety of curriculum and resources in person all in one place.

You can research on the internet, talk to other homeschooling parents and support group leaders, and read reviews and books on this topic. A couple of recommendations:

Cathy Duffy Reviews, cathyduffyreviews.com

The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles by Carol Barnier (available through Amazon)

In addition, Arizona is blessed to have a local resource center in Phoenix that has a bookstore with new and used curriculum. Their knowledgeable staff can answer questions and provide direction on choosing curriculum.
Covenant Home School Resource Center, chsrc.org

IDENTIFY YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING STYLE

Identifying your child’s learning style can help you choose curriculum that works best for him or her. There are a number of books on the market that can give you insight in this area. Two examples are:
Demystifying Learning Styles: What Every Parent Needs to Know by Tyler Hogan, Bright Ideas Press
The Way They Learn by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias (available on Amazon) 

#7 – What about graduation?

 The homeschooling parent is responsible for creating and maintaining their child’s high school transcript and issuing a diploma. Students who are homeschooled through high school are able to successfully go on to college, the workplace, and the military.

HELPFUL ARTICLES AND RESOURCES

Homeschool Transcripts, More Important Than Ever by Colene Lewis
Diploma Equivalency in Arizona by Tom Lewis
The High School Handbook: Junior and Senior High at Home by Mary Schofield (Amazon)
HSLDA: Homeschooling through High School
NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute)

 

AFHE Graduation Ceremony

Each spring (usually the end of May), AFHE hosts a beautiful cap-and-gown graduation ceremony for Arizona homeschool students graduating from high school at home.

It is a special celebration of an important milestone and includes a commencement speaker, musical performances, senior class address, diploma presentation, photos of each graduate, and more. The registration window is mid-November through the end of February. LEARN MORE

#8 – What about sports?

Arizona Revised Statutes §15-802.01 states that a homeschooled child who resides within the attendance area of a public school shall be allowed to try out for interscholastic activities (such as sports) on behalf of the public school in the same manner as a pupil who is enrolled in that school. Parents who choose this avenue should familiarize themselves with the policies of the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA).

There are a variety of opportunities available to homeschooled students within the homeschool community and in the private sector as well, including competitive athletics programs run by homeschoolers for homeschoolers, club ball organizations, programs offered through city parks and recreation departments, and more. One example of a competitive sports opportunity for Arizona homeschoolers is EVAC Sports. 

#9 – What if my child is struggling or gifted?

Homeschooling can work really well for children who are gifted learners or who have special learning needs or unique learning challenges of all types. Parents can offer their children individualized education, flexibility, encouragement, and support. AFHE is building a SPECIAL LEARNERS RESOURCES page on our website and we also hold special learners events for parents periodically.

Additional resources:
spedhomeschool.com
hslda.org/strugglinglearner

#10 – What about socialization?

Socialization is defined as “to make fit for companionship with others; make sociable.” Many homeschooling families have discovered that healthy socialization takes place when children are exposed to people of all ages in various settings, rather than being limited to a group of peers all about the same age. Children can learn to socialize in everyday activities such as a trip to the grocery store or library, visits with grandparents, play dates with friends, support group activities, park days, and so on. More importantly, children often receive their most valuable socialization in the nurturing environment of home and family.

Arizona has a vibrant, active homeschool community with many opportunities for socialization. One of the biggest challenges families encounter is dealing with the abundance of activities available. Parents should look for activities that enhance the homeschool experience without leading to the frenzied distraction of too many outside endeavors. Learning to say “no” to the good and the better helps a family leave room for the best.

We’re here to help!

If you have questions about homeschooling in Arizona, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are homeschooling parents ourselves and we are here to help.
homeschool@afhe.org | 602-235-2673

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Starting a Kids’ Book Club

Starting a Kids’ Book Club: The Power of Reading Together

by Lisa Varner

“Whether or not people read, and indeed how much and how often they read, affects their lives in crucial ways. All of the data suggests how powerfully reading transforms the lives of individuals—whatever their social circumstances. Regular reading not only boosts the likelihood of an individual’s academic and economic success—facts that are not especially surprising—but it also seems to awaken a person’s social and civic sense. Reading correlates with almost every measurement of positive personal and social behavior surveyed. The cold statistics confirm something that most readers know but have mostly been reluctant to declare as fact—books change lives for the better.”1

Reading Is Foundational

Most of us agree that developing our children’s love for reading and great books is one of our most important goals as parents and home educators. Everywhere we turn, it seems, we encounter study after study stating that a person who voluntarily reads will do better in school and in life.

Dana Gioia, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and its nationally recognized studies Reading At Risk and To Read or Not to Read, summarizes this well, “If you could know only one thing about a 17- or 18-year old to predict his or her future success, you’d probably want to know whether they voluntarily read. If the answer is yes, you can be reasonably sure they will do better in school, they’ll do better in the job market, they’ll become more integrated with their community, and they will have higher odds of successful personal outcomes.”2

Obstacles to Cultivating a Love of Reading

We want our children to grow into lifelong readers. It can be difficult to encourage our children to love reading, however.

We often face many obstacles. Not only is the act of reading complex and difficult for many of our children, but also we can struggle to find books that they are interested in reading. Some of them haven’t yet discovered the enjoyment of a great story, and so they have declared that they do not like to read. As a result their “mental reading muscles” are underdeveloped. Finally, digital media can prove to be one of our most significant obstacles.

The Rise of Digital Media

Today’s generations are growing up in a world no longer dominated by books and literature. Instead, according to the Center for Disease Control, the average American child aged 8-18 years old spends 6-9 hours every day in front of a screen.3 The U.S. Census Bureau conducted a large survey in 2002 on participation in the arts with startling conclusions: “With the rise of digital media, less than half of U.S. adults were now reading literature.

The survey found there had been a 10 percentage-point decline over two decades, which was a loss of 20 million potential readers. The drop spread across every age group, every ethnic group, both genders and all income levels. Worse yet, the steepest decline was among those 18 to 34, who 20 years earlier had been the most likely age group to read a book. The survey also indicated this backsliding of a literate America had rapidly accelerated with the advent of social media networks, streaming services and all-consuming video games. Experts extrapolated that, if the trend continued, reading as a pastime would be all but nonexistent in another 50 years.”4

The Reading Crisis

It is the sad truth that every group in America is reading less than 20 years ago and also reading less well—kids, teens, young adults, adults, and even college graduates.5 Dana Gioia’s 2007 NEA team discovered that people who didn’t read were less likely to vote in elections, volunteer for charities, attend public events, and support cultural institutions. Additionally, Gioia was correct in his suspicions that the dangers didn’t end there. Later neurological research and MRI testing confirmed that reading increases brain connectivity and improves basic human empathy, while exposure to most screen-based media has the exact opposite effect.6

Whatever the benefits of newer electronic media, they provide no measurable substitute for the intellectual and personal development initiated and sustained by frequent reading. “The general decline in reading is not merely a cultural issue, though it has enormous consequences for literature and the other arts. It is a serious national problem. If, at the current pace, America continues to lose the habit of regular reading, the nation will suffer substantial economic, social, and civic setbacks.”7 America is facing a reading crisis. We need to do all we can to lead our youth to rediscover the gift of great books.

The Power of Reading Together

Kids’ book clubs can be such a powerful help in this effort. J.K. Rowling states that if a person doesn’t like to read, they haven’t found the right book. We can take that a step further and also conclude that if a person doesn’t like to read, perhaps they have not yet encountered the joy of fellow readers. I have seen my own amazing proof of this in the last several years.

May 2019 marked the end of the third year of our girls’ book club and the end of the second year of our boys’ book club. We read ten books a year, or one book a month, from August to May. We have had a range of ages in our book clubs, although most of our girls were 13 and most of our boys were 10 when we began. Our girls and boys absolutely love book club!

Positive Social Influence

Book clubs are just wonderful, in our experience. They bring us together around a great book and provide community, accountability, and fun. Whether a child is a nonreader, reluctant reader, or a lover of books, all of the members will grow in their eagerness to read. I most attribute that growth to the positive social influence of a book club.

There is nothing quite like the influence of friends and peers who are excited about the same book and excited to talk about it together. When you add in the chance to grow in friendship with others, along with games and snacks, it is easy to see how book club has the potential to transform children into lifetime readers.

Starting Your Own Book Club

Have you considered starting a book club for your child? If so, perhaps you were unsure of what to read, how to get other kids to come, or what to do during book club? I’m excited to share my experiences with you from my years of leading these two book clubs, along with lots of information on my Facebook page, Starting a Kids Book Club – The Power of Reading Together, to help you get started.

Step One: Deciding on the Format

Once you’ve caught the passion to start a kids’ book club, the first step is to decide on your format.

  • How often will you meet?
  • Where and when will you meet?
  • What will be the size of your book club?

Enjoy the freedom of designing a book club around your schedule and interests.

While my groups have enjoyed meeting once a month in our home, book clubs can happen with different frequencies and a variety of locations such as in libraries, coffee houses, churches, etc. I encourage you to decide on the group size you would like and extend invitations slowly so that you don’t grow too big. The average size of our groups has been 16 kids.

I have been amazed by the enthusiastic response from every girl or boy we have invited and can assure you that you will not have trouble finding kids to join your book club. It is very fun to have a large group and yet also challenging. Generally speaking, the optimal size is probably 8-12 members.

Step Two: Planning the Reading List and Book Club Dates

The second step will be to plan the reading list and book club dates. Others get even more excited about your book club when you have a great line-up of books and specific dates already selected for the upcoming year all presented in an attractive way.

You will find all of the book lists we have used—nearly 70 books in all—on my Facebook page. I have chosen books from a variety of genres so that our kids are stretched to read books beyond what they normally would read. Our girls and boys have stated that they really love this aspect of our book clubs.

There are so many available resources beyond my book lists to help you discover great books for your book clubs. I have used all of the following titles for help: The Read Aloud Revival by Jim Trelease, Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Teen’s Heart by Gladys Hunt, Give Your Child the World by Jamie C. Martin, Books that Build Character by William Kilpatrick, Books That Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson, and Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson.

In addition, the following websites have been a fantastic help:

I frequently consult lists of Newberry Award winners, read many book reviews, and ultimately read lots and lots of books. I encourage you to use my book lists and all of these wonderful resources to choose books your kids will love.

Step Three: Inviting Others

The third step will be to invite kids to join your book club. Consider inviting your children’s friends from homeschool groups, church youth groups, neighbors, sports teams, etc. We have really enjoyed having a mix of homeschooled and public/private-schooled kids in our book clubs and have seen it as an outreach of sorts. Be sure and have your book list, book club dates, and location all ready to hand to each child you are inviting.

Step Four: Planning the First Meeting

The fourth step will be to plan your first meeting. A two-hour book club meeting works well. For about the first 30 minutes, we typically play ice breaker games (an online search will lead you to many great games) or share a bit of what’s been happening in our lives since we last met by sharing a “high” and a “low” from the last month. Then we move into the book discussion which usually lasts 45-60 minutes.

Our teen girls lead their own discussions, while adults lead our middle school boy discussions. We usually use some kind of object to pass around and to be held by the person speaking. This is a helpful visual reminder that it is another’s person’s time to speak and a time for all others to practice listening.

It has been thrilling to watch our kids grow in their ability to listen, reflect, and respond to each other’s opinions and perspectives on the books. Then we end our time together by eating snacks and playing games or playing outside. You’ll find more information about this schedule and some lists of general book discussion questions on my FB page.

Step Five: Planning Snacks

The last step will be to plan snacks. Snacks are essential for a great book club. Consider having a family snack sign-up list and decide how many people will bring snacks each time. Sometimes our families have brought snacks that match the book theme. That is always fun and so enjoyed. Be sure to send reminders to those signed up, and be ready with a backup plan just in case. As the host, I provide water and plates, napkins, silverware, etc. The kids love snack time. They love everything about book club!

Leading a Book Club Is a Worthwhile Endeavor

It is my great passion to be a small force in this bigger battle to get our kids reading again. The evidence of literature’s importance to civic, personal, and economic health is too strong to ignore. We must do all we can to reclaim our youth for books, for reading, for the power of a great story, for the ability to imagine, reason, ponder and reflect, for community in a non-online world, and for the opportunity to encounter role models in books who are brave, good, fascinating and different than us.

As Sarah Clarkson beautifully states, “…to read a great story is to begin to learn how to live one.”8 I believe this is even more certain when we are reading these great stories together.

I want to encourage you that leading a book club is definitely something you can do and absolutely worth every effort. I hope this will be the year you start a kids’ book club. Everyone will be so glad you did. Happy reading to all!

Lisa Varner

Lisa Varner has always loved books and been an avid reader. She loved teaching high school English for 11 years and then moved into professional counseling. Her career path changed again in 2011 when she and her husband, Mark, decided to homeschool their three children. She has loved homeschooling for the last 8+ years—even on the difficult days—and has been thrilled to grow her children into readers. When she’s not leading a book club or homeschooling or counseling, she loves any chance to be with her family and friends, especially when that includes hiking, camping, and reading. Lisa lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, children, and, quite arguably, the world’s best dog. Follow Lisa’s Facebook page Starting a Kids’ Book Club – The Power of Reading Together for more helpful information.

End Notes

1 National Endowment for the Arts. (November 2007). To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence.  (Research report #47). Washington, DC: Office of Research & Analysis.

2Burger, John. “Dana Gioia Shares the Key to Your Teen’s Success.” Aleteia,  28 January 2014, https://aleteia.org/2014/01/28/dana-gioia-shares-the-key-to-your-teens-success. Accessed 14 June 2019.

3 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Screen Time vs. Lean Time Infographic.” 29 January 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/multimedia/infographics/getmoving.html. Accessed 10 June 2019.

4 Anderson, Scott Thomas. “The Man Who Saved Reading: Dana Gioia’s Battle for the Future of the Arts, Literature and Critical Thinking in America.” Medium, 22 December 2018, https://medium.com/@ScottA_RsvPT/the-man-who-saved-reading-dana-gioias-battle-for-the-future-of-the-arts-literature-and-bdb48d7856f1. Accessed 13 June 2019.

5 National Endowment for the Arts (n1)

6 Anderson (n4)

7 National Endowment for the Arts (n1)

8 Clarkson, Sarah. Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Transformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children. Monument, CO: Storyformed Books, 2013. Print.

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Box Tops for Education Goes Digital

Box Tops for Education Goes Digital

by Cindy Duell, October 2019

For nearly a decade, AFHE has been participating in Box Tops for Education (BTFE) as a fundraiser that benefits the Arizona Homeschool Scholarship Fund. Families all around Arizona have clipped and collected these cardboard chits and brought them to support group gatherings, the AFHE Convention, and even mailed them in (sometimes with handwritten notes of encouragement).

This group effort has been a significant way to provide encouragement and support for many deserving homeschool graduates. We have raised more than $7,200 through Box Tops for Education with our community’s participation!

Exciting Time of Transition for Box Tops

This wonderful fundraising opportunity is now in a time of transition. Box Tops for Education has determined that it is time to take the program to a fully digital format. What?!? No more clipping and saving and remembering to take the Box Tops to the next meeting? No more counting and bundling little cardboard squares? No more postage expense? That’s exactly right!

You may have noticed that those product packages which used to have that little dotted outline on the top now have a new logo highlighting this new digital approach. Through the end of 2019 there will still be some packaging with the clippable coupons found in grocery stores. Those Box Tops can still be used, and so can any Box Tops you have at home with expiration dates in the future.

Please do continue bringing those Box Tops to AFHE events and mailing them to AFHE as they can still be redeemed during this transition period.

Scanning Box Tops is Easy and Fun

Moving forward, the new method for participating in the fundraiser is by using their app. Available from Google Play or the App Store, this free app has the redemption mechanism built right in. After making a purchase with eligible items, you simply open the app and scan your receipt! Done! Box Tops are still worth 10 cents each, and in the app you will be able to see how AFHE’s scholarship fund is benefiting in real time!

The new format for the program will be much easier for participants, volunteers, and organizations. The app will also be useful for identifying eligible products and tracking special offers that will benefit our scholarship fund even more. Some of the special offers listed have huge bonus earning opportunities, made so easy with the app!

We hope you will take a look at the app and give it a try. Receipts do need to be scanned and redeemed within 14 days of purchase.

So, no more clipping and collecting for you or counting and bundling for AFHE volunteers—but feel free to go ahead send us a handwritten note anytime!

When you set up your account, search for Arizona Families for Home Education as our school name to make sure proceeds are going to support AFHE. Thanks!

Your Help Makes a Difference!

The Arizona Homeschool Scholarship Fund (AHSF) provides eligible Arizona homeschooled students with financial assistance in pursuing post-secondary education from a college, university, or trade school.

100% of the money raised through Box Tops for Education is distributed to Arizona homeschool graduates in the form of scholarships for college/post-secondary education.

AFHE.ORG/BOXTOPS