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Free Resources for those Considering Homeschooling

How do you climb Denali? How do you build a rocket and send it into orbit? Or compete in a decathlon? Is that how it feels when you consider the prospect of homeschooling your kids?

Walking away from the familiar into the unknown can be mighty intimidating! That is especially true when the stakes are high. Few things are as important as your child’s education. Is it really possible for parents to take charge of this vital area and be successful?

We get it! Parents just like you have been concerned about the same questions, faced the same unfamiliar territory, and wondered whether homeschooling was possible for their family. Here’s good news: you’re not alone and help is just a few clicks away!

AFHE’s set of three free MP3s provides a great way to get started, as you listen to experienced homeschool moms address those common concerns and share how you can get started in this new endeavor.

Doing anything worthwhile takes effort. Climbing Denali or building a rocket might seem beyond your abilities, but when you get connected with someone who has done it before and can shed light on the unknown, the challenge looks completely different, making something intimidating into something exciting and inviting!

Also, check out AFHE’s Ten Questions About Homeschooling in Arizona

Note: Because this event took place in Arizona, descriptions of the legal aspects of homeschooling may not be the same as in your state. To learn up-to-date information for your state, visit homeschoolfreedom.com or hslda.org.
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AFHE Home Blog Encouragement Homeschool Help Uncategorized

Unprecedented Times Call for a Positive Perspective

by Marie Tynan

These are crazy times. Unprecedented times. Dramatic shifts have occurred worldwide and in our local communities. These changes happened fast, and they morph daily. The circumstances are frightening. But this crisis has provided us with multiple opportunities for personal growth, increased learning, and discipleship of our children.

Make Room for Personal Growth and Discipleship

How we as parents respond to all these new challenges is one of the most important lessons our children are learning. Since more is caught than taught, adopting a positive attitude (like a can-do approach and looking for the good) will help to instill confidence and flexibility in our children, now and over the long term. If we have found ourselves being grumpy and discouraged, it’s also an opportunity to role model repentance and self-correction. Learning early that life is difficult but that we can choose our attitude and actions (or correct them) is foundational for facing adult challenges later on.

Besides positivity and flexibility, other good character traits that we have a unique opportunity to role model right now include checking on and helping others, conserving resources to limit trips to the store, being resourceful and living independently, being patient with one another, and walking out a confident faith in our all-powerful and loving God.

Thank an Everyday Hero

The everyday heroes around us are also exhibiting extraordinary traits we would do well to emulate and acknowledge. Courage and duty in the face of fear and inconvenience are on display right now as few other times in living memory. What are some ways we and our children can express our thanks to grocery clerks, first responders, truck drivers, and medical personnel? How can we act courageously for the benefit of others? How can you impact those around you for good?

Many of those essential-services workers are pressing on despite being “outside their comfort zone.” With their example, and in solidarity, this can be a good time for us to practice this, too. Every one of us needs growth in some area. We can challenge ourselves and our students to stretch a little bit. (This stirs up very vulnerable feelings, so be very cautious– especially with sensitive children– and with all children, create a very safe and affirming environment before proceeding.) Maybe each family member creates a work of art, or presents a report, or tastes that awful vegetable!

Learn Through Current Events

Academically, we can take advantage of the impact of these events to perhaps step away from our usual studies and dive into topics of more immediate relevance. Because some of today’s topics can be frightening, this is best overseen by a parent and presented carefully, especially with young or anxious children. But this approach can assist with understanding the times, perhaps stimulate new interests, as well as cement retention.

For example, a lot of science can be explored through learning about viruses and the various methods by which we tame them. Effective handwashing can be practiced as we learn why that works. Reading about earlier pandemics can provide a historical perspective and inspire hope. Math can be done by looking at statistics and doing some calculations: it’s encouraging when one looks at the low percentage of the population infected rather than just absorbing scary-sounding numbers. (That alone is a lesson in why math is useful “in real life”!) Geography can be incorporated by looking at maps that track the spread of COVID-19 . The wide scope and swift spread of the disease point out how connected we all are as human beings across this enormous and diverse globe.

Embrace Digging Deeper

Older students can go even deeper into examining the scientific, economic, and ethical issues suddenly thrust to the forefront by current events. Controversial issues like the swift implementation of untested but potentially life-saving treatments, the pros and cons of vaccines, or what constitutes an actual “essential service,” might be topics for research and discussion. Career exploration may also be enjoyed by some teens as they think of ways they would like to help others: through the medical arts, manufacturing, research, mechanical engineering, materials science, transportation specialties, public administration, charitable outreach, or spiritual leadership, to name a few.

New skills can be gained during this pandemic as we sew masks for hospital personnel, cook more meals from scratch, garden, or tackle home and auto repairs. Civic responsibility is reinforced as we act out of respect and concern for others and comply with regulations and recommendations. By contrast, what can happen when people behave selfishly?

Hone Your Skills

We all know that homeschoolers are used to social distancing (hahaha!), but now we actually are pretty housebound, just like everybody else. In the absence of our usual activities, we can direct our children’s free time to individually honing those skills they would normally be practicing in groups (like sports, acting, or speech and debate), or we can encourage them to try out new activities. Pick anything you or your children want to learn, and you can be sure there are articles, books, and internet tutorials to get you started: dance, art, mechanics, woodworking, baking, starting a business…

We can expand our family’s creativity by finding new ways to break up the monotony: take nature walks, watch and identify neighborhood birds, make blanket forts, have a picnic and a footrace in the greenbelt, encourage a child to play teacher or nurse to the family pet or a stuffed animal, plan a family talent show, compete in a sibling cook-off, or take turns doing funny skits.

Has your child shown a particular interest in something that didn’t fit into your curriculum? Now may be the time to pursue it. Got a gearhead? Aspiring fashion designer? Computer nerd? Born performer? Novelist-in-the-making?

The world may seem scary and unpredictable, and change throws us off balance, but embracing the many opportunities for growth in character, learning, bonding, and faith gives us a new perspective and many reasons to be grateful.

Marie Tynan was blessed to homeschool her only child from birth through graduation. With her son now away at college, Marie desires to share her passion and encouragement with the next generation of homeschool parents. She resides with her husband in Maricopa, AZ.

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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 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!
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