What is a Betty?

Betty is the term used to describe an amazing person who you can depend on. Betty is also a term for "sweet and loving girl." The more you get to know her, the more you love being around her. She has a good sense of humor and has a cute laugh. She's chill yet hard working as well as kind and considerate. Betty lights up the room and lights up my life. She's always happy and cheerful. She's also cuddly, independent and smart. She appreciates the simple things in life and can make anything good out of a bad situation. -Urban Dictionary

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Homeschooling - A Choice

As we mentioned in our introduction post Dana has homeschooled her boys for a few years now.  Her choice to homeschool was an easy one, as many dear friends and family members had paved the way, setting a great example of what could be done at home.  The main reason she chose this path was a simple one;  education tailored specifically for her kids (which could be an entire blog post by itself).  However, she stepped on the brakes upon finding out she was expecting twins when her oldest was to start Kindergarten and her 2nd son was to start preschool in '06.  "The thought of caring for twins AND educating at home full time for the FIRST time was extremely overwhelming and I knew I needed help.  I didn't want to give up on my hopes of home education but sleep deprivation and the survival mode mentality that kicked in did not make for the ideal learning environment.  I knew my limits and I couldn't do it all."  She took to researching a school she had heard about years prior to her son actually starting Kindergarten.  HOPE Christian Acadamy ( http://www.hope-eagles.com/ ) in Chandler-Home of Partnered Education. This school was exactly what her and her husband needed at that time. HOPE gave them a smooth introduction into the world of home based learning while transitioning into life with four boys under the age of 5.

With a unique model of partnering with teachers 3 days a week in a traditional classroom setting; parents take over the role at home the remaining two days a week.  This is a private Christian school that required some budgeting and planning but most of their kid's tuition was covered through a program called Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization http://www.acsto.org/.  Arizona provides a unique opportunity to receive scholarship money donated by Arizona taxpayers.  Folks donating to the program receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against their Arizona state income tax. Private Christian education was affordable with this program.

Hope Christian Academy was a very positive experience.  A loving community of like-minded parents and staff with small classroom sizes.  The school provided all of the curriculum and lesson plans were given by teachers with step-by-step instruction for home-based learning days.  When they were at school they attended Chapel, PE, music and even spanish.  "We met great friends and really got plugged in."  However with 4 boys to consider, the hefty tuition started adding up and the downturn in the economy made it harder to raise support for scholarship money.  This made for the perfect opportunity to homeschool full time, spending a fraction of tuition money on curriculum that Dana could use over and over with the younger kids at home.  "I was really looking forward to having my kids on the same page rather than us all going in different directions.  With the twins getting older and a little confidence under my belt I could finally dive into homeschooling 100%."

If you are considering homeschooling there are so many resources!  Attend a convention (Arizona Homeschool Convention link)  and speak with other homeschooling families. Also, Dana's go-to book when she started homeschooling was and still is the Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer.  Detailed instruction on how to get started if a classical education is something you are drawn to.  Dana has implemented many of the suggestions in this book and it was a great foundation to build upon.

Also, what legally do you need to do to get started homeschooling?  Well, every state is different so look into your local state laws.  A homeschool affidavit was filled out and sent into the county school superintendent for each of the kids.  AZ laws are listed here at http://www.afhe.org/az_law.html .
Also, a "getting started fact sheet" is provided here at http://www.afhe.org/getting_started_faq.html .
Both of these resources are provided through AFHE (Arizona Families for Home Education).

A great article here at azcentral.com also gives a bit more information about homeschooling and the gaining popularity.  We are seeing 2nd and 3rd generations homeschooling in Arizona and this is so exciting to see!  The bottom line is nobody knows your kids like you do.  You know what's best. Obviously the choice to homeschool is not for everyone.  If you are considering it, you will not regret it; although there will be hard days.  If you think this Betty is crazy for even trying, that's okay too.  Dana and Stacie really have one thing in common that keeps their friendship strong and it's not homeschooling.  Living by our own convictions and supporting one another as best as we can is really the key.  Our faith is the common thread, not our choice in schools.  Live free in Christ, follow YOUR convictions and the rest will fall into place.

Dana will keep you up to date on the happenings of homeschooling this fall...lots of fun stuff planned!

Happy Schooling-whatever choice you make!

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