What About Post-Secondary Admissions? Fears and Concerns Series (Part 11)

Students who have been educated at home come in two main “formats.” There are those who have, in some fashion, simply brought school home and have generally followed public programming, ending up with government issued credits, transcripts and possibly diplomas. These “home-schooled” students do not usually pose challenges for admissions as they are usually assessed using the standard admission criteria expected of all students.

I should, however, warn you that to have a few credits can be more damaging than no credits at all, as a few credits may generate a transcript without a diploma which can come with the stigma of being a “dropout.” Completing the GED creates much the same problem.

The “home educated” or “unschooled” students, on the other hand, have followed alternate, individualized programming and as a consequence, lack the standard credits, transcripts and diplomas.

Now, although the home educated are generally as well or better prepared for post-secondary studies than their public schooled counterparts, lacking standard admission credentials does require admissions personnel to use some form of alternate criteria when assessing these students for admissions.

If you have not followed this clearly, let me say it a different way. If you do what everyone else does, you get to be measured like everyone else is. If you are different, you must be measured differently. The standard way is measured with standard admission criteria and the different way with alternate admission criteria.

Either way, post-secondary institutions are looking for the best students and every student must demonstrate that they are the best candidates for success in the institution. After all, one must understand that institutions of higher learning are businesses that don’t make their best money on failures. It is in their best interest to find those students who will succeed and earn them money.

This is why every program comes with prerequisites or a list of “have-to haves” that must be met before a student is considered for admission.

Prerequisites cannot be argued away. If an institution says you need English, Math and particular sciences, you must show that you have what it takes. Now, under normal circumstances they will refer to government programming like level 30, but understand that this is because most people applying for admission have come from the school system.

What the institutions are asking for is not necessarily an English 30 course, but an ability to do work in English equivalent to that level. This is called proficiency. They are looking for a level of proficiency in certain subjects that you will need to prove. There are a number of ways that this can be done.

To this end, I have summarized alternate admission practices generally in use by post-secondary institutions when considering unaccredited home educated applicants in my article entitled “Summary of Post-Secondary Admissions Practices”.

We have been helping post-secondary institutions and unaccredited home educated students to understand each other, and the unique challenges that need to be addressed when seeking admission, for a long time. Please go the web site, www.educationunlimited.ca under Resources and click on Post-Secondary Admissions to see how post-secondary institutions from across Canada are willing and able to deal with the unaccredited home educated student.

We have found that our post-secondary students admitted without government issued accreditation are often outstanding students. I believe that this is due to two main things.

First of all, home educated students are usually sure of themselves, are not confused as to who they are and therefore have no need to go to college to find themselves. They know what they want, what is required to get there, and what it takes to succeed.

Secondly, home educated students have had to practice self-motivation and personal responsibility and have learned how to do what has to be done to get where they want to go. In short, home educated students demonstrate a level of maturity not often found within their “schooled” peers.

When questioned, most institutions who have admitted unaccredited home educated students have discovered that if there is one characteristic that can generally be attributed to these kinds of students, it is that they tend to be overachievers. Wow! Good news!

That’s it! Once students have transitioned from the secondary to the post-secondary level, parents have worked themselves out of a job. There will always be a need to support, encourage and mentor your now-grown-up, son or daughter, but the education part of it is done, and likely well done, at that.

The fears and concerns regarding home education that likely bothered you in the past, have now gone away. You likely discovered that you could have saved yourself a lot of grief if you would have trusted in God rather than having put confidence in man and that all the false information you were fed about the need to look like everyone else was simply scare mongering and not factual.

However, there is one more opportunity for fear to grip you in this journey. I like to call this one “Fears and Concerns Level 5” and I will talk about this one next time.

Letting Them Go: Fears and Concerns Series (Part 12)

We have now arrived at the place we intended to arrive at all along. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise, yet somehow parents have often forgotten to prepare for it. In everything and every way, we ultimately have to come to THE END.

Home education is no different. Neither is child rearing. Neither is life, for that matter. Still, for loving parents, letting the children go is hard. I don’t need to talk about those parents who can hardly wait to put their children in school or to grow up so they can carry on with “their” lives. When I see this happening, I tend to question why they had children in the first place!

Earlier, I mentioned the need for sacrifice when children are added to the equation of, mother plus father equals children. I explained that there were only two possibilities: parents sacrificing themselves for the sake of the children; or parents sacrificing their children for the sake of themselves.

Parents who have sacrificially dedicated themselves to their children by keeping the family intact, at home, where they were provided with the unconditional love required to grow and learn in keeping with who they were, are especially prone to these final fears and concerns. This level or stage usually involves parental tears, especially the first time around.

No other fears or concerns are more illegitimate than those associated with letting the children go. You heard me right! Thinking that your children have been handicapped by your choice of where and how they would be trained, taught and prepared for life is absolutely wrong for those who determined to do the job themselves, at great personal cost, regardless of what others, including the children, may think or say.

Nevertheless, parents often have their second thoughts and doubts. Therefore, I will present you with a few facts to establish and verify the superiority of a home education and to encourage you with the fact that you made the best decision when you determined to keep your children home.

Let’s begin.

This final stage of a child’s growth is the most painful, especially for mom, who has developed a deep relationship with her children not only by being a part of them since conception, but by pouring herself into them from birth. This not to say that dad is not going to suffer through the transitioning from child to adult, but usually they are slightly more able to “hide their feelings”.

However, both mom and dad are susceptible to the following:

The major fear that creeps in at this point is that of having failed to properly prepare the children for their lives. How is that possible? You kept the children home, loved them unconditionally, walked through all their trials, hurts and failures with them, and saw them through to responsible adulthood. There is no better preparation for life, especially if you included and focused on introducing them to their Creator.

Feelings of failure are standard for loving parents as we ponder our own inadequacies. However, parents giving of themselves for their children will soon discover that even though it may have seemed like sacrifice at the time, it was actually an investment! Indeed, the best investment possible in life. Not one that pays in interest which is actually a fraction of one, but one that pays in multiples. The Bible tells us to expect returns in thirty, sixty, even one hundred times.

This may not be evident right away, but who knows what impact we will have in the generations to come after us. Not only in terms of extending the family through grandchildren and more, but also in terms of the influence we have through our children.

Personally, I have made some pretty dumb investments in my time, but I most certainly got fantastic returns when I invested in (or sacrificed for) my children.

Being different comes with its own set of concerns. Yes, it is true that you did things differently than most others when determining to train and teach your children at home, but isn’t that what we all desire in the end? Our hearts naturally cry out to be uniquely recognized and appreciated. Home educating children get just that.

Besides, if we desire to leave the world in a better place, that is, to make a difference in this world, we have to be “different” in the first place. Home education “normalizes” the idea of being different, which is why the home educated are generally outstanding wherever they go. All we need is to take a look at God’s creation to see that to be different should not be a concern, but seen as a blessing.

What is it that we ultimately desire to do for our children? We want to best prepare them for their futures, for their lives. I want to tell you a story about a former student I bumped into a few years ago. Without knowing it, this student paid me the highest compliment a teacher can possibly receive, which I will share with you in a moment.

But, first I need to explain what I had been doing while teaching in a big city high school in Edmonton. For some reason, our school had six periods for each class in a week. This would make sense, of course, if there were six school days in a week, but in a five day week we were forced to have one day when we would have two periods of one class.

I felt that two periods of Biology 20 or 30 with me in one day was a bit too much to ask, so I would allow students to ask any question about anything in the second period. We called it “Question Period”. The students loved it and often begged or bargained away the Biology so we could have more time for this exercise.

When I met this former student, my father happened to be with me and asked the student what kind of teacher I was. The student answered that I was his all-time favourite teacher, which I always like to hear, of course, but what he said next was incredible. He defined what education is supposed to be all about.

He said that I was an “awesome” Biology teacher but had to admit he had pretty well forgotten all of his Biology. He then went on to say, “but the things you taught me about life during question period, Mr. Gaumont, I want you to know I hear your voice every day”! Wow! It does not get better than that for a dedicated teacher!

Think about this. What is it that parents ultimately teach their children? Everything that prepares them for life. If all your children want, is to be taught about and prepared for the realities of life, there is absolutely no better opportunity for doing so than when loving parents keep and teach their children at home.

You have done a tremendous job and you will see this many times as you and your children grow older, together. Go ahead, let them go in confidence.

Introduction: Meet Education Unlimited (Part 1)

Well, here we are again nearing the end of another year of home education. Since most Canadian home educators quickly take advantage of what little summer we get, most formal home education programs are done by the beginning of June.

By now, if you have not already been visited by your facilitator, you are anticipating their imminent arrival.

At this time of year, most home educators reflect on where they have been and evaluate the success of their choices, including the school and facilitator with which they are associated.

In light of the fact that many parents will likely be assessing or reassessing their options for registration or notification, I would like to offer you two things: encouragement to fully research any potential home education provider, including history, track record and true motivation for wanting to be involved in your home education journey; and to provide you with information respecting Education Unlimited for your consideration.

I want to introduce you to Education Unlimited by discussing three main points:

The first relates to “where we have come from.” This is important, as it not only explains our history, but also how it has determined who we are, what we are doing today and, ultimately, where we are leading you tomorrow.

Knowing that since your job as home educators is to prepare your children for their futures, it is critical that you align yourselves with leaders who have an eye to the future rather than people with a self-serving, short sighted focus on mammon.

Once we have established the parameters for how we have come to be who we are today, I would like to distinguish ourselves from the rest. After all, if we cannot clearly establish how we are different, we cannot claim to be offering a better, if not an alternate, service to parents.

After discussing where we came from and who we are, I will talk about how we are way ahead of the pack, so to speak, in using modern digital solutions to address government, school, and parental administration and resource requirements.

The first discussion about “Where are we coming from?” will have an historical focus, the second will be more philosophical, while our third topic in this series will be more of a practical nature.

So, let’s start with a history lesson.

Our job takes us to every part of the Province of Alberta. A few months ago, my wife and I found ourselves on a road we had not been on for some time.

There is an old homestead on that route that has attracted our attention every time we have gone past it. We find ourselves wondering what stories those old buildings would tell, if they could talk.

We usually “create” possible scenarios that are likely nowhere near the truth. We imagine things that likely involve a perfect family enjoying a blissful, carefree life of non-stop blessings, as if that were even possible!

I can imagine, however, that if we ever discovered the real story behind those buildings; the work, the heartaches, the successes and failures associated with them, our perception of them would radically change.

While we may not know the history of that old abandoned farmstead, we are most certainly familiar with our own homesteading “adventures.”

Nearly thirty-five years ago, my wife and I purchased a piece of property in the country. Although it was a nice location, it had absolutely no amenities, not even a road to speak of.

Like most young families just starting out, we had little money and big dreams. As we continued to work, scrimp, save and work some more, we eventually built the place we proudly call home today.

Now, if you were to visit our place, you would see a nice house in a nice setting with a nice view, but you would not see the hardships, the mess, all the ups, downs and redo’s, not to mention the enormous amount of work we had to live through in order to arrive at what we have today.

In fact, most people just do not consider that there is a long story leading to what is here today. They simply “assume” that it has always been the way it looks today.

Similarly, when people come to our web site, attend one of our functions or meet with our facilitators, how many will consider that there is likely a long story leading up to what we are today?

Just like the house we now live in does not tell of the days we lived in a tiny house trailer, using outdoor facilities in the mud, and those old roadside buildings are silent about their past, today’s Education Unlimited is not the same agency it was at its inception.

It has certainly grown; it has developed; and where necessary, it has changed; but when it comes to the original vision for home education and the mission to serve God by serving families, Education Unlimited remains as steadfast as ever.

The Origin of Education Unlimited: Meet Education Unlimited (Part 2)

How far back does one need go into the past to paint an accurate historical picture? In the case of home education, it is safe to say that it predates schools, but modern home education, as we now know it, got its initial start in Alberta in the late 1970’s, mostly because private schools were too expensive or simply unavailable during a time of increased secularization of public schools.

The 1980’s saw some growth in numbers. However, home education really got popular and more accepted when funding was made available in the early 1990’s.

My wife, Faye, and I were among the earliest home educators in the late 1980’s. This was a critical decision for us since I was teaching in a public high school. I was, in essence, voting against the very agency through which I was earning a living!

In any event, we had determined to teach our own children as we could not find a school that would do the task with the dedication of loving parents. And it was a serious commitment as there was no funding available, at least not that we were aware of.

As funding became available, agencies specializing in the delivery of home education programs began to emerge in the home education community. They were either schools or worked through an authority vested in them by registered schools, but either way, this transformed the home education community into being another educational industry.

My first experiences with this new industry were very enlightening. I observed that very few of these “experts” in home education had much of an idea of what education, home education in particular, really was.

There certainly weren’t many of these experts who had had the extensive experience that I had, and even fewer who were giving serious thought to the fact that home education and schooling were different.

The second, and most disheartening thing I observed, was that most of the home education providers, while masquerading as experts, were actually intent on cashing in on the home education money, rather than helping the people who were lined up to take advantage of that funding.

Most everything that was being offered as help was nothing more than marketing ploys preying on the ignorance and greed of the people, something that was sure to compromise the home education community over time.

I got to the point where I was as frustrated with the home education industry as I was with the public school industry, in which I was employed.

I did not want to be part of the problem that was growing within the home education community, where the competition for students (read: cash) was becoming so commonplace as to be an embarrassment to the Christian faith.

In the spring of 1999, several very questionable moves by the “home education provider” through which I did part time work as a facilitator, led my wife and I to seriously consider the need for an agency that would be focused on truly ministering to parents while balancing their desire for financial assistance, in that order.

I really believed the home education community needed a place to escape from the nonsense that was starting to infect it. This was the thinking that led to the creation of Education Unlimited. It started as a ministry within an increasingly cash driven industry.

I informed the families with which I had had the privilege of working, that I would be continuing on my own (and without actually saying so, that I could no longer, in good conscience, work for a mercenary organization that consistently reminded its employees that it was a business first and a ministry second).

So, after having completed my duties for the business I was working for, I set out to find a school that saw students as having more than a monetary value.

I was not surprised to find that there were very few schools that even cared, much less were interested in home education, at that time. This was a sad testimony, since we approached only private Christian schools.

We finally were able to convince a school principal that our vision and mission to serve the home education community was worth supporting. So in July of 1999, we had the good fortune of connecting with the dedicated folks at a Christian school who agreed to “loan us their authority” so we could proceed with our plans.

Thus in August of 1999, Education Unlimited was born with my wife, Faye, and I as the entire organization, from director, to IT manager, facilitator, administrator, secretary, receptionist and book keeper!

From the beginning we did everything we could to help and support our school, our parents, our students and then, after everyone else was taken care of, we paid ourselves. In this regard, things have not changed, continuing as we always have!!!

As a consequence of our focus on ministry, we did not engage in marketing ploys to increase our numbers as we so often saw with what were now our competitors.

We conducted our business affairs with the highest level of integrity while putting all of our efforts into advancing and defending home education, including: exposing the unhealthy focus on money and the consequences of its unethical use; the normalization of school-based thinking; and the general absence of genuine faith in the God of creation.

The Reason for Education Unlimited: Meet Education Unlimited (Part 3)

Before starting Education Unlimited in 1999, I had been facilitating for another provider, but there were significant philosophical disagreements that centred on what should be done within a home education, particularly at the high school level. I could not convince them that I had some insight on this subject!

I spent 25 years in the classroom, mostly at the high school level, in 2 different provinces; in public schools, separate schools, private schools, rural schools, urban schools and I substituted in almost every subject from K – 12.

I taught in French and in English; had 22 student teachers; was a diploma exam marker for Biology 30 in both French and English.

I have worked with thousands of students, dealing with hundreds of parents, in my career, not to mention the nearly thirty years of experience in the world of home education.

I am also very familiar with the politics associated with education.

I knew through my teaching experience that students did not need a high school diploma to gain admission to post-secondary institutions and I was convinced that they did not have to have credits either.

Not only did the company I worked for have limited understanding of home education, but it was obvious they were seeing a greater potential for profit by advancing school methods and credits rather than encouraging families to learn at home.

There was virtually no heart for home education in that organization. The director of the company had his own children attending public school!

Most of the facilitators had never home educated and knew little to nothing about it, having been hired simply because they had a teaching certificate. Really, I personally believe that if you’re going to take swimming lessons, it’s a really good idea to learn from an instructor who knows how to swim.

Although these negative issues certainly influenced our decision to start Education Unlimited, it was more in response to the real needs of real parents who had real concerns about the educational health and welfare of their children.

What I saw was parents being misdirected and ill-advised by mercenaries much more interested in their own welfare than that of the students.

I wanted to help the home education community see how they were being duped. I wanted to provide a place of refuge for parents simply wanting to get the straight goods on faith, family and future-focused home education.

I wanted to help parents get a proper understanding of the appropriate use of the funding being made available to home educators. And I wanted to encourage parents to apply their faith to their education program.

That’s why my wife, Faye, and I created Education Unlimited in the spring and summer of 1999.

The level of fear parents had respecting “high schooling” their own children had been somewhat alleviated when my own children had completed their high school level, without provincial programming or accreditation.

As my children transitioned to the post-secondary level, I realized that it was not only schools and parents who were ignorant of post-secondary options, but post-secondary institutions were as well.

This realization led to a national initiative to facilitate the post-secondary admission processes of unaccredited home educated students that caused me to travel across Canada and to be invited to speak at the 2002 conference of the Association of Registrars of Universities and Colleges of Canada (ARUCC).

I then embarked on a quest to visit every post-secondary institution in Alberta. Although now somewhat dated, all of the documents that resulted from this effort can be found on the leogaumont.com web site.

This comprehensive, voluntary and unpaid exercise earned me the title of Canada’s foremost authority on the post-secondary admission of home educated students.

When we offered to host a listing of post-secondary institution admission requirements on our web site, nearly every institution in Alberta volunteered to participate. That was in the early 2000s. To date, nearly 80 institutions from almost every province in Canada are now listed on our web site.

Once we had developed the ability to do this, using modern technology, we applied the same features to provide our families with a listing of home education resources that has grown to include a very large number of different options, including vendors, apps and web sites, freely available to all parents around the world.

Now approaching twenty years in service, we continue to be actively involved in advancing and defending home education, but from a, shall we say, more experienced perspective.

Our heartbeat is still service, not from a “keep-you-happy-so-you-will-come-back” approach, but from a genuine desire to equip parents to be the best that they can be so they can best direct their children into their futures.

Education Unlimited pioneered the uncompromising, credit-free high school at home, and we remain the only agency to provide a comprehensive listing of friendly post-secondary institutions and home education resources.

I believe that Education Unlimited continues to be the best option for home educators looking for a principled, non-sectarian, Christian home education perspective, that is inclusive of all faiths.

We continue to consistently advance the welfare of parents, students and the home education community at large, without compromise, and without apology, to those who would have us do otherwise.

Who Do We Serve? Meet Education Unlimited (Part 4)

Who is served by Education Unlimited? Everyone connected to home education, not only in Alberta, but across Canada and around the world.

Because our focus and intent is the protection, advancement and defence of home education, and equipping parents with the best possible understanding of everything that is involved, there are no real restrictions on who can use at least some of our services.

Now, since we are resident in Alberta, we minister on behalf of Alberta schools, by managing registration, administration and facilitation of their home education programs. In this capacity, we are open to serving anyone sincerely interested in the best option for training and teaching their children in Alberta.

However, we do need to screen applicants to make sure that we are the best fit for them. This is important as I do not believe it is possible to be all things to all men.

Furthermore, I am simply not interested in encouraging parents to engage or continue in error. I want to equip them for the job. I believe that misleading parents to do as everyone else does should never be confused with leadership! Best to make sure everybody understands what is expected.

Also, since we come from a Christian worldview, we make it abundantly clear that this is the position from which we will be serving.

This does not mean that we exclude those who may not agree with this worldview. In fact, folks who do not subscribe to our faith appreciate knowing our worldview position and the fact that although we make no apologies for our faith, we “respect” rather than “tolerate” alternative and opposing views.

Once we have clearly established our faith perspective, we then make it very clear that we do not believe in, have never supported nor offered, anything other than purely traditional home education programs.

We have never offered nor supported government aligned or blended programming, credits, nor high school diplomas. Our long time advocacy concerning these types of offerings has clearly explained how these benefit schools more than students.

We believe that if parents desire a school based program, there is an abundance of schools willing to help them in that capacity. What the motivation may be for a school to do so is left up to the parents to discover.

However, keep in mind that, generally speaking, the more school programming a provider can foist upon the parents, the more money is made available to them. This is why most providers push aligned, blended or ADLC programs.

To clarify why we advance and support traditional home education only, I want to explain the difference between home educating and home schooling. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, home education and home schooling are very different approaches to education.

“Home schooling” involves using provincial programming and standards at home. This is what most people assume is taking place at home, starting with many post-secondary institutions.

It is also the best “paying” option for providers, either because it involves public programming that is funded at a higher rate, or because it is easier to take advantage of misinformed parents when desiring to perpetuate re-registrations and continuing cash flow.

Essentially, home schooling is best described as using a prescribed program where everything that must be learned at every level is pre-determined by a third party who knows nothing of the child. Hence the term home school is really schooling at home, where a one-size-fits-all program actually fits very few.

Although Education Unlimited does not support home schooling programs involving government curriculum, we do work with families that use prescribed programs such as ACE, Alpha Omega, A Beka and a host of other programs designed to be delivered by teachers in Christian schools.

Following these programs as prescribed is also home schooling, but parents have more latitude to make the changes leading to individualization.

Perhaps the best way to differentiate between home schooling and home education is to ask, “Who is in control?” If the parents are deciding what will be learned at what time and in what way, they are home educating. If the curriculum is directing the learning, then it is home schooling. Simple as that!

Education Unlimited ministers by working with those who are most familiar with the children, their parents, without interference and without guilt or condemnation. We trust parents willing to make this level of commitment to have the best interests of the children in mind.

Our “un-schooling” approach equips parents to avoid copying the school’s ways in their home education.

Our approach is not burdensome at all. We want to increase parents’ confidence, reduce their stress, paperwork and reporting, in order to create a relaxed learning atmosphere.

Not only that, but we have alternate approaches to documenting achievements and meeting admissions requirements for college.

Education Unlimited does not play school. We have always been the provincial leader in innovative and resourceful ways of helping parents come to the knowledge of the truth about school, home schooling, and the positive alternatives available.

We don’t just assume parents are informed about what they want but we do know that most want what is best for their families.

Education Unlimited wants to help make that happen.

The Perspective of Education Unlimited: Meet Education Unlimited (Part 5)

Many years ago, I explained the difference between home schooling and home education to a Department of Education official who was re-writing the Home Education Regulations at the time. He had never heard anybody make a distinction between the two before.

Once enlightened on the difference, he asked me how many different programs were being used in home education. I responded by asking him how many students were being home educated in Alberta.

Using my criteria for what constitutes a true home education, he figured there were approximately 8500, to which I replied that there were approximately 8500 different home education programs.

Compare this to the fact that the vast majority of students in the province are following a single program and you should be able to see why I promote home education over home schooling.

Home education is fitting the program to the student. It’s “individualized.” As a 40-year career teacher, I have seen some form of the word “individualized” often used, especially on school marquis, but it is pure and simple lip-service.

You can’t individualize a program in a one-teacher, 25-student setting. You can only have one program and everyone has to fit it; ready, willing, interested, capable, or not.

However, when choosing to home educate, one must understand that there will be no provincial credits, transcript, or diploma, which does present a new set of challenges.

Since the majority of students attend regular school, it should not come as a surprise when post-secondary institutions initially seek school-based prerequisite courses.

Education Unlimited’s graduates simply inform institutions of having been home- not school-educated, ask to be evaluated based on their level of proficiency, and provide proof of accomplishments by providing an Education Unlimited Student Transcript. It works! No need for provincial accreditation.

So, why does anybody need to “home school”? If there is no need for government accreditation, it is a waste of time, not to mention a major source of frustration.

The reason people pull their children out of school is usually because school wasn’t working for them. If we bring it home, how is it going to improve? My being a public school teacher who home educated his own children has to say something about what I knew about the school system!

We do not encourage home schooling because home educating is the best option for training and teaching children.

Developing what God has already created is very different from creating something of the children by forcing them through a program developed by people who have no idea who your children are. How can complete strangers have their best interest in mind?

No one knows a child better than a loving parent, and our job as parents is to develop what God has already created within the child, so let’s develop what is there and not waste time with what is not!

Learning is as natural as breathing, coughing or sneezing. We do not need to make a process or a job of it. Enjoy growing and learning with your children.

And remember, the only difference between the pre and post puberty child, besides the level of maturity, is the increased capacity for learning. No need to return to the school from which you escaped. God is still in control!

When it comes to programming, we simply say everything works as long as it fits the child and works for the teacher.

Also, don’t oversubscribe. Don’t try to do too much. Just do one year at a time, or one day at a time.

In fact, if you follow these three “cardinal rules” for home education, you will be successful. They are: don’t push, don’t hold back, and don’t compare!

When educating our own, we need to encourage children to fly with their strengths while teaching them how to manage their weaknesses.

Schools can’t do that. Schools have to bring strengths down to the lowest common denominator while demanding that every child be proficient at everything. Schools actually don’t teach students, they only provide opportunities to learn. Parents can easily do the same.

Because public schools reject God, they look at children as chance accidents that need to be programmed and prepared for usefulness in society. Christian home educators, on the other hand, have a more eternal objective in teaching their children.

Freedom is a gift from God. When we place children into a school system, we place them in one of the most dysfunctional institutions ever created by man.

Most every child will tell you that school is best described as jail. Jail is not the place one would equate with freedom. Freedom is not the foundation of home schooling, but it is for home education.

We chose to call our agency Education Unlimited precisely because we believed in education, not schooling. Also, freedom is not limiting like bondage is, hence the “unlimited.” Learning is not limited by needless restrictions imposed by people with a different agenda than that of the parents. Sounds like Education Unlimited to me!

The Uniqueness of Each Child: Meet Education Unlimited (Part 6)

Another thing that must be realized when comparing home schooling with home educating is the fact that when a program is prescribed, children have to be ready when the program says they should be. This makes no sense when considering the uniqueness of each child.

When home educating, the teaching of skills happens when the child is ready. In fact, if you provide constant opportunity and encouragement, when they are ready you will be where you should be, at the right time.

To make children do what they are not ready to do is a form of academic child abuse! Let me tell you an interesting story about child readiness.

Years ago there was a little fellow whose mother had adopted two children later in her life. She didn’t know us at all, just basically ended up with Education Unlimited because she had heard of us through a friend.

During my initial facilitation meeting, as I was sitting there talking to the mom, this little fellow ran by. Realizing that this youngster was the student I was facilitating, I asked the mother if she thought the child was ready.

She replied with, “Oh, no, but he’s 6 years old, so he has to start… doesn’t he?” To which I responded, “Says who?”

“Says the school board!” she replied. So I told her, “I’ve got news for you. I represent the school board, and I’m telling you not to do anything formal, for now. You can seriously damage this child if you start him now, when he is obviously not ready.”

Keep in mind that if a person has only ever experienced school, and school begins formal training at six years of age, then that is what she naturally expects and the example she follows.

So I told her to “Trust me!” and she decided not to start formal teaching at that time. Returning in the spring, I asked what she had done, and when she replied with “nothing,” I was pleased!

I came back the next fall and it was obvious that he was still not ready. By then mom had a bit more confidence with waiting.

Returning the following spring, no formal work had been done. This is not to say that the child had not learned anything in the past two years, but that no formal teaching had occurred.

The next fall also found that the child was not yet ready for anything formal.

When I visited the following spring, I noticed something completely unexpected with this nearly 10 year old boy. There he was, lying on the sofa, reading a book. Not just any book, but J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

In light of the fact that mom had warned me beforehand that he hadn’t done any school work of any kind that year, I asked for an explanation.

The mother said, “It was the most amazing thing. He came up to me and said, ‘Mom, what’s that word?’ and when I asked if he wanted to learn how to read, he replied ‘Yeah.’” The mother said that in a very short time he was reading novels.

A few years later we had him do a skills assessment test (which we no longer do because they are useless) and he scored in the 99th percentile. Basically, that meant there was hardly a child his age in Canada smarter than he. Quite a thing considering that he only started to read when he was ten.

The rest of the story is just as interesting. By the time he was approaching 14, it looked like he would be ready for college. The family then moved out of country and we lost touch, but I would venture to guess that this student did just fine in life.

Does this story teach us anything? Yes, it does. In this particular case, the boy was a late blooming academic learner. Sometimes children are just more mechanical or artistic or just not ready for some things that others are. We should avoid doing things that do not fit the child.

Ever notice that God gave children to parents and not to institutions? Perhaps this is why children can do so much more outside the institution and in much less time.

Not only do schools not take individual readiness into account, but they make a very long journey of a short path.

Does it really take 12 years to complete a formal education? In school maybe, but considering that the 3 years of junior high school is a waste of time, and if we exaggerate by assuming that the students are actually productive and learning within the classroom for 50% of the time, it is not hard to comprehend how a child could start at 10 and be ready for the post-secondary stage by age 16.

Start the children at 10 and graduate them at 16? We’ve seen it done time and time again, as long as we stay away from playing school.

Seriously, we discourage parents from starting before the children are ready because nothing is accomplished other than tears and frustration, not to mention the potential development of bad attitudes. Furthermore, boring them with busy work does not accomplish anything positive either.

At Education Unlimited we encourage the development of the individual child in keeping with his or her gifting, strengths, interests, failings, short-comings and, of course, readiness and abilities.

The unique characteristics of each child demand that we do not push or hold back or compare, for there is no other child like “that” child. We enable, equip and encourage parents to have faith in God and to work with Him, at the right time and in the right way, to develop what is, rather than what isn’t “that” child.

Education Unlimited’s Beliefs About Education: Meet Education Unlimited (Part 7)

Nearly every day we are exposed to things that are just not real. How much of the information that we are presented with is factually based?

One of the best examples of this is a general belief that only people subscribing to an organized faith are religious and that all things secular are non-religious.

I have a problem with this view because I know many people of faith who are non-religious and I also know a number of people who are very religious about their secular worldview! In fact, I observe a far greater zeal in proselytizing the secular perspective than any other worldview!

We all share a common human characteristic. We all believe ourselves to be right, and anyone disagreeing with us to be obviously wrong.

Therefore to debate rights and wrongs is pretty much a waste of time unless we can understand that everyone’s perception of what is right or wrong is based on their personal worldview, developed through all that they have experienced in life.

It is also critical to acknowledge two important things about world views that apply to everyone. We must understand that since perfection eludes us all, everyone’s worldview is corrupted to one degree or another.

Of even greater importance, we must be willing to acknowledge the possibility of being wrong respecting our worldview position and be desirous of correcting error in a quest to know the truth.

This is why we do not hesitate to publicly declare our Christian world view. Since every decision and direction taken is based on an assumption of truth, our desire to help others will obviously be based on our perspective of that truth.

Since our worldview influences how we see things in the world, I want to quickly summarize our beliefs about education.

Obviously, we believe in a loving God who is the creator of all things, specifically the children we are training and teaching. We also maintain that this loving omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is consistently the same irrespective of time or place. We, therefore, advance and conduct our affairs having a greater trust in God than confidence in man.

As an organization, Education Unlimited believes that:

– Every child is created special. We do not believe any child is an accident or defective, but uniquely different.

– Differences include a host of characteristics that uniquely qualify nearly all children to excel at something in life.

– Learning is an intrinsic human function, with varying capacities being bestowed to every individual person.

– Parents are not required to create something of these created beings, but to develop what has been created towards a future they are likely to know little about.

Just as we do not see one student as superior to another, we also do not believe any career to be superior to another. We simply maintain that to whom more has been given is more expected and that differing careers require differing levels of responsibility.

Our expectation is one of excellence relative to abilities without seeking perfection.

Success is not measured by anything other than the enjoyment of doing what is being done, or more specifically, what is in keeping with the gifts and talents of the child and how they are being applied to serve God and man.

Post-secondary institutions, while needed in the pursuit of some careers, are not required for others. We also believe that institutions of higher learning should be treated as businesses from which students should expect a service.

Women can aspire to any career including, and without diminishing the importance of, being a wife and mother.

Education Unlimited also maintains:

– Freedom as a birthright that can be exchanged for rights conferred by man which are also susceptible to his revocation.

– Parents have a right but also a God-given responsibility to train and teach their children in keeping with their faith (whatever that may be, including the secular faith).

– Parents have the right NOT to “do” school either at school or at home. They also have the right to “un-school”.

Home education provides freedom from what others want us to do and believe, leaving parents in control.

Furthermore:

We trust parents to do what is best for their children and we are there to help them train and teach their children.

We guarantee that when the least amount of money is accepted, the maximum amount of educational freedom is available.

We also offer minimum paperwork, no guilt and no undue stress. We’re not interested in “busy work” for ourselves or for you. We can all fulfill our obligations without making things complicated.

We are making a difference in advocating and demonstrating educational success without the need for credits and diplomas.

We have made a difference in defining a distinction between home education and home schooling.

We have long been advocates for the admission of unaccredited students into post-secondary institutions in Alberta and across the nation.

We have a website listing all of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions and their admissions policies for home educated students. Institutions from other parts of Canada are increasingly requesting to be included on this website as well.

AND Education Unlimited is uniquely advanced in using modern technology benefiting all players in a home education.

Our Digital Management System: Meet Education Unlimited (Part 8)

As a teacher I was exposed to developing digital technology very early. Unlike most, I am usually not fearful of new things, so I took to using computers fairly early in their development.

Although I cannot claim to be the first to use computer technology in my field, I seemed to be a natural in exploiting the power of this “thinking machine.”

I was likely the first facilitator to have visited families with a laptop in the mid-nineties and to have conducted all of my educational affairs digitally.

Thinking back on it, as a digital trail blazer, I quickly discovered that not everybody was as enthusiastic about modern technology as I was, and I soon learned to seek parental permission before taking the “wicked thing” out of its bag!

By the time that Education Unlimited was started, I had already developed a template for recording parental plans and facilitation reporting as well as a sophisticated process for the planning of facilitation trips and optimizing efficiency.

I had never employed a pen and paper in my facilitation visits and I had already sought and got permission from the government to keep digital student records, making Education Unlimited the province’s first fully digital “school”. This was in 1999!

From its inception, Education Unlimited has employed the maximum usage of digital technology to make the task of home educating as easy as possible for everyone involved.

I was initially the entire IT department, but when I perceived a genuine talent for computer-related activities in one of my “un-schooling” students early in our development, I started thinking about collaboration!

Initially employing him to help me with some of my IT ambitions when he was fourteen, I quickly realized his natural affinity for this work. When I offered him his own Apple laptop if he would help me get some of my IT tasks done, I got his immediate attention. But when I gave him his own iPod, I had a friend for life!

Our professional association and personal friendship has grown over the years to become what one could describe as a truly “mutual admiration society”!

Our relationship grew as he grew up, left home, and got married. Since having him as our dedicated full time IT expert, Ian Weir has, in my opinion, rewritten the term Information Technology to mean Information Ingenuity.

Together, and in association with all those serving and being served by and through Education Unlimited, we make up a formidable team of “techno-educators”!

Combining our sincere desire to be of service to, not only those families who have entrusted us as part of their home education journey, but all home educators in the world with the intelligent use of modern technology, has resulted in what we have today.

I can confidently boast that Education Unlimited’s unprecedented, unequaled and highly sophisticated Digital Management System for home education is second to none and what truly differentiates us from the rest.

I would like to end this series and this year’s blogs by listing some of the things that can be expected for those associated with Education Unlimited.

Let’s start by repeating the fact that Education Unlimited was originally created as a ministry to serve home educating parents desiring the best for their children, who, having escaped the school system, wanted the truth regarding training and teaching without compromising their faith and without focusing on money.

In this regard, Education Unlimited has not changed.

Secondly, not only as the “boss of this outfit,” but in a real and personal way, I have been contributing to the greater home education community for nearly thirty years.

We take a principled and uncompromising approach in advancing home education to the greater home education community and not just to those who are registered with us. In this respect also we remain dedicated leaders.

The third point you should consider when deciding who you will entrust to be your home education provider, is that we work on behalf of our school which retains control of their home education program using our secured, hyper-efficient, web-based digital management system that effectively and efficiently serves all related players.

Our website www.educationunlimited.ca is a treasure trove of helpful information and resources, available to anyone desiring or requiring assistance or encouragement in home education. It is worthwhile to take the time to discover all that is included there.

For those wanting more in-depth works generally focused towards the greater provincial, national and international home education community, including audios, videos, articles, research, advocacy, presentations, blogs and other sources of encouragement and information, leogaumont.com is the place to go.

Both web sites are responsive, meaning that they function well on any device, including all computers, tablets and smartphones.

The additional benefits for parents registered though our schools are too numerous to list entirely, so I will highlight the main digital functions included in our management system.

Once logged in to their password secured “myEU”, parents have (24/7/365) personal services including: EU information, schedules, deadlines, facilitator information and personal account settings, as well as parental access to student files and records for all their students, including those that are archived.

Parents also have immediate access to required documentation as well as online program planning and transcript creation options that are fully interactive and integrated with the greater management system.

Parents can also upload and/or download things directly to/from our database, such as: family, student and student work photos; Family and Student ID Cards; and, best of all, parents can submit all education expense claims digitally, using any device. No other provider offers this level of service!

Education Unlimited has always strived to serve our families in the best possible way. I believe Education Unlimited is the best option, but then again, I may be just a bit biased, as I culminate my life’s work in service to parents and students.

While others may claim that they are just as good as the world in preparing children for the world, Education Unlimited continues to specialize in enabling, equipping, and encouraging families to know and understand their faith while preparing their children not only for this world, but also for the world to come.

This concludes my blogs for this year. From all of us to all of you, have a great summer.

My name is Léo Gaumont. I remain passionate about my faith, family and future-focused home education. God bless.