The 2015 Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) Convention took place over the weekend at Westerner Park.
AHEA board president Paul van den Bosch stated the convention is an important tool for those home educating their children to be able to gather information and resources to better their children’s education.
“We want to provide information for people so they know all of their legal requirements as well as what Alberta Education expects,” he explained during an interview at the convention. “But we also want to give them all of the information they need to do the very best for their children and make the best decisions on what curriculum and teaching philosophies they want to use.”
van den Bosch told of his own personal experience with homeschooling his seven children.
“My children started out in the school system in Ontario – my wife and I were married at 19 and parents at 20 and at that age we didn’t really know anything about education other than what we had experienced ourselves,” he explained. “But it was very clear early on with watching our children in the school system that they didn’t fit – these were smart kids, but they just didn’t fit and we were really worried they were going to fall through the cracks of the public education system.
“I didn’t want that for my children.”
It wasn’t until seeing his children interact with home-educated children that the idea dawned on him to explore other education possibilities when he saw how well his children got along with them.
“Why were those kids so much different than ours? They seemed so grounded in terms of who they were and they were comfortable and confident in who they were – they were just incredibly well-socialized,” he stating adding that it was shortly after that his wife informed him these other children were home educated.
“Home schooled kids – every single one I’ve ever met – have these insanely well-developed social skills because we are able to spend so much more time with our children everyday and help them to develop their identity and character.”
So together with his wife they began the process of home educating their children.
“Whether you have one child, or whether you have seven like myself you want to do the best for each individual child,” he stated. “Schools by nature give every student the same experience – there’s one teacher for every 25 students in the class and they have to fit into that teacher’s model of education.”
“So home educators ask ‘Why should each student have to change to suit the curriculum and why can’t we change the curriculum to suit the student?”
van den Bosch explained home education allows them to individualize the learning experience which means children have time to discover their passions and develop a firm understanding of who they are as people.
In his own experience he has watched as his eldest daughter pursues her passion of philosophy and is currently obtaining her masters degree from an American university. His oldest son has also recently obtained his bachelor’s degree in musical education and can fluently play seven instruments.
“We still cover all of the basics – we don’t just let kids play all day – they learn everything kids in schools would but then we have the power to go beyond,” he added. “Each one of my kids are different, so therefore each one gets a different home education after we’ve covered the basics.”
For more information, visit www.aheaonline.com.