Vicki: Welcome to the Southwest life podcast with your host, me, Vicki de Luzio, where we will talk about things to boost your health, improve your relationships, find new things to do with your family, and talk with business owners in the area. And more. Thanks for being here and enjoy the show.
Vicki 00:26 Hi guys. Today I have with me Nancy Manos from AFHE and if you’ve ever thought about homeschooling, you might have heard of Nancy. So without further ado, I’d like to have Nancy introduced herself.
Nancy 00:41 Awesome. Well it’s so great to be with you. Nancy Manos I’m the executive director for Arizona families for home education or afhe as we call it. My husband and I served on the board directors for 13 years and then I was hired as the executive director for years ago and it’s a joy to continue serving the Arizona homeschool community. Our own kids graduated in 2010 and 2011 and we homeschooled them all the way through. So I am a die hard homeschool mom and it’s really neat to be able to encourage other parents in this amazing, you know, family education adventure.
VIcki 01:24 And what does AF H E stand for?
Nancy 01:28 Sure. It is Arizona families for how many and we are this in homework. We are a 501c3 three nonprofit that has been serving the Arizona homeschool communities since 1983. So this is our 37th year. And um, the board of directors is homeschooled couples and so we are all in the trenches. I mean, I’ve graduated mine, so it’s serving on the board is active homeschool parents themselves.
Vicki 01:59 Oh, that’s awesome. And there is a lot of history with becoming a homeschool educator. Can you tell me a little bit about the early days of homeschool educating in Arizona and how it’s changed?
Nancy 02:14 Arizona is a state that it has always been legal to homeschool in, which is great, but the laws weren’t always as friendly towards homeschoolers as they are now. And you know, there’s many States where it was illegal to homeschool, but we’re blessed live in a state that it’s always been legal. But some of the things that our organization along with the help of organizations like center for Arizona policy and family friendly school friendly legislators accomplished in the early nineties, was to remove some of the Burr regulations. You know, his example of those regulars is that we had, um, the requirement for parents to take the error, the teacher proficiency exam and pass it in order to continue homeschooling their children. So say you failed one portion of the test, you would have to wait until it was offered again. Have your kids go back to school until you could take the test and pass it and it rotated.
Nancy 03:21 They’d from Flagstaff, Phoenix. And so then it’s time you needed to take it. It might be across the state. So it was a real inconvenience and, didn’t really demonstrate the parents’ ability to provide instruction for their children that provided a quality education. And so we’re really blessed that that was removed and parents are treated like response citizens who have their best interest at heart, which I love about Arizona. One of the other requirements that used to exist in Arizona was that students needed to take a standardized test and the County school superintendent would review those results and would determine whether you could continue homeschooling your child or not based on their test results. And we all know that children, I have different abilities and they’re gifted in different ways and not every child is going to, Oh, okay. the extremely smart or gifted or you know, different abilities
Nancy 04:25 And the test isn’t gonna really wait or reveal their all their strengths. Absolutely. And kids can have a good day, they can have a bad day and port to all rely on just that one test can throw off a parent’s hopes and dreams of home educating their child. Right. So, so who, who homeschools there are so many people that homeschool. It’s a really diverse population of parents who choose to teach their child at home. all faith backgrounds, all education backgrounds for parents, economic backgrounds, parents across the state from across different, um, you know, all, all sorts of different, definitely that was the word I’m looking for. Demographics, I choose to teach their kids at home. And you know, there’s so much curriculum and resources of varying price points and you know, you can use the public library and those kinds of things and it doesn’t have to be intensive.
Nancy 05:30 So there’s so many resources that make this a feasible option and for families. Yeah, absolutely. And there’s about 2 million homeschoolers now in the United States. We have over 2.1 million is the last number I read, but it could be more. And there’s more than 38,000 homeschooled students in Arizona that we’re debating because we file an affidavit intent for kids who are between the ages of six and 16 but that doesn’t include all the students that, you know, starting three, four preschool or being at home. And then those students that start humbling after age 16 are also not counted in those numbers. So we have a really great state, and of course there’s so much for homeschoolers to do in Arizona, humble groups across the state, tons of enrichment activities and venues that are homeschool days and homeschool discounts and things. And so it’s a really great, vibrant, active community unity across our state.
Speaker 2 06:36 It is. It definitely is. And we have participated in a lot of it. Um, so what trends have you seen in homeschooling in the last 10 to 20 years? Sure. Well, you know, since I’ve started homeschooling my own kids in 1994 when our oldest kinda hit preschool, um, you know, that was the days, there were people that came before us and paved the way for us to be able to homeschool. I was not a homeschool pioneer, but I got to ride on the coattails of those that really did the hard work to create that freedom. And so, you know, 20 years ago, the vast majority of families chose to homeschool, did so for faith reasons, you know, primarily Christian families that wanted to teach a biblical worldview and, um, had a conviction. This was something we were called to do to the way we were going to raise our children, included their education.
Nancy 07:38 And I think in the last 20 years, and in recent history there is a shift where parents are really seeing the individualized education, which we saw well 20 years ago. But I believe what I’m seeing in the trends is that a lot of founders co kind of want either all a cart may or may not be the right, but kind of a, and I’ve collectic approach to maybe outsourcing a writing class or a science lab or doing a co-op one day a week with enrichment classes and you know, and then singing lessons or horseback riding lessons or you know, speech and debate or whatever. And so this kind of really neat a mixture of shins. And then of course there’s so many online programs and classes you can take. And I think that’s probably the biggest change has been the drift from, it doesn’t matter if there’s any curriculum, I feel called by God to teach my children at home to people who still are choosing because they want it, which their children in their faith or their worldview. But then it’s this kind of look at all the opportunities for it. So it’s, it’s really grown. I think it hasn’t changed from, we always, there’s things for our kids
Vic 09:01 Yeah. The online has made it so much more accessible. Even in the past 15 years. I knew a homeschool family back in Connecticut and that was my first interaction with the homeschool family. And I kind of looked at them like, what is this homeschool thing about? And the girls were hiding under laundry baskets. And I’m like, huh, that was my first interaction with homeschool families. I’m like, okay, this is interesting. And now, you know, it’s just more of a normalcy. There’s homeschoolers everywhere, you know, you see kids in the middle of the day at the grocery store and people don’t look at you strangely like, why are your kids with you? It’s just like, Oh, okay, that, that’s fine, that’s acceptable. And, and it’s great. And so many parents are choosing more of a travel life. You know, there’s our vehicle and there’s, um, parents who go on trips with their kids. And I think it, it allows parents to do this, um, this travel in and enjoy their kids and, and be able to work. Uh, that was one of the great things we could do was travel with my husband when he went to conferences and then explore the area too. So it was a great mesh of doing that and, uh, learn about an area. So we incorporated it in our lessons.
Speaker 2 10:20 That’s awesome. If there’s so much opportunity available. And I think one thing is something that I’ve seen is that homeschooling is normal now 20 to go, if you were out in the middle of the day, like you said, would be like, are you out of school today at school? Closed to school, canceled, are you sick? Instead of now when you see kids, they’re like, Oh, are you homeschooled? More informal. It’s become part of, it’s a common education.
VIcki 10:49 Yes, absolutely. And some people, uh, even applaud you for it. So, uh, yeah. And it’s very gracious. That’s, that’s very nice. Thank you. Thank you for the top of my day. You put together a large conference every year with many other people. Um, so what is the conference all about and why should people attend?
Nancy 11:14 Yeah, so that eight homes then should place each summer into the lie. And it is the biggest gathering of homeschool families in the state. It’s geared towards parent education, education for you as a parent educator and encouraging you and equipping you. So have and bring them with and we offer in a teen program, but it’s two full days of workshops. We bring in some great speakers and we cover a ton of topics. Started homeschooling high school well to homeschooling a child with special needs, um, which math or science, Oh, all sorts of things. Then, um, we have an exhibit hall, it’s 80,000 square feet and we usually have about 140 thirst and it’s a great way to see curriculum and resources in person. You know, if you’re reading descriptions on the internet to see like what is this? Will it work for my family? And so being able to have this kind of everything in one go from vendor and compare and shop and ask questions, even sometimes author or publisher than some directly. So it’s just, they’re a neat way to kind of more about resources that are available. Yeah. Encouraged and motivate yourself.
Vicki 12:43 Yeah, I have and I’ve heard a lot of families actually save up a lot of money for the curriculum sale because it is almost like Christmas going to the curriculum sale.
Nancy 12:56 There is nothing better than buying curriculum and having either getting to take it or have it arrived by ups or FedEx and a couple of weeks
Vicki 13:04 I was very excited to get my curriculum for my kids this past week and I, I just ripped it open and I’m like, yay. My kids thought it was a little bit nuts, Where do you, see the future of homeschooling?
Nancy 13:29 You know, it, the future of homeschooling is really as broad as the opportunities and possibilities in front of us and I think it’s just going to continue developing and growing and adapting. Being a families. Onne thing, you know, especially in Arizona state is their own laws and definitions of homeschooling. But in Arizona, homeschooling is a legally defined option. And so it is defined in state Jude as non-public instruction primarily by the parents or guardian or nonpublic instruction provided in the child’s home. It’s different, it’s unique in that it’s not the same as virtual charter school, which is public schooling or some of the other education odds that take place at home. And so it has its own unique, you know, an umbrella that covers it in the it’s and that, but the comradery even between families who your children at home is your different avenues besides homeschooling. There you just, maybe these were kind of those connections and support and those things. The whole siting things and the opportunities ahead are broad
Vicki 14:48 Yeah. And we were talking about just, we started to go on live. Of course the Corona virus is a raging right now and that’s taken a lot of kids out of the public school system and put them at home with parents. And a lot of parents are now trying to do school at home online. And some, some parents are saying, Oh, well we’re homeschooling and homeschoolers are saying, no, you’re doing the school online at home. How you were just expressing the definition and um, do you see from this, a lot of people choosing the, uh, standard definition of homeschooling, do you think that this is going to lead people to a homeschooling?The traditional sense of the word
Nancy 15:36 Yeah. So I think that there are going to be families that really get a taste of what it could be to be home with your kids. Of course, it’s so different and we’re all affected by this. You know, I think people think because homeschoolers were already home and parents were already teaching their kids and you already have your curriculum and you already know what you’re doing more. We never really what doing, we figure it out as we go. Right. We do it just, that didn’t work. Something else, you know. But um, you know, all of life is canceled. We had our kids sport fair and band and each and debate and you know, all the activities that they were involved in. Um, you know, so it’s impacting homeschoolers in a different way. But there is an impact. So for families who find themselves to schooling at home, you know, there’s some different, hurdles to overcome and what we’re hearing a lot of is kind of more parent questions. How do I get my child to listen to me? How do I get them to do their work that their teacher sent home? And so, you know, they just, there’s a different need for encouragement. that kind of thing. Many of the families who have their kids now suddenly we’re also trying to work, work from home, sometimes even suddenly, like they may have been in an office and they’re trying to adjust to how do I work from home and now my kids here and they need help with their schoolwork and is crazy time. But my hope is that parents in this kind of, especially for this whole month where, well, schools are closed for the rest of here and our stick for a month to outdoor outside, not outdoors, but to stay at home. That’s what we’re supposed to do. So it’s, there’s some isolation that comes that and just acknowledging that is a curse and it can be traumatic for parents, for kids, regardless of how you educate your kids. But I think there is an appeal that families will find like a quieter rhythm dinner together. Um, not homework night because you’re done during the day, you have time to explore things, kids are interested in and they can build things and create things and read a good book, you know, those kinds of things. So I think it is going to open the door to families choosing homeschooling who might not have heard it before.
Vicki 18:03 Right. You’ll get into a rhythm with your kids after this crazy time has kind of gotten through the aches and pains, um, as, as anyone gets through the aches and pains and then you’ll, you’ll find that sort of rhythm and you’ll, you’ll go through that and, and you will get to enjoy your kids. There’s going to be tough times. I won’t say that most of my days are stress free or worry free. My kids don’t always do what they’re asked. Um, but we get through it and we learn and together and, and I think that’s the biggest thing is you learn together. And as you said, a lot of people think, Oh, homeschoolers were doing this all along. They’re used to being at home. But I think I’ve said before, my family were the homeschoolers who barely stayed at home. We were out enjoying the worlds and going places all the time that we had to schedule in our schoolwork a lot of times because we were so social. And this has taken such a beating on our kids. Um, whether they were in school or not, that they need to be that, that social and have that social aspect. So you have to make sure that your kids are getting that, whether it’s through zoom chats or email or some, some aspect to make sure that they have a little sense of whatever normalcy that they can have to.
Vicki 19:29 yeah. Um, so, uh, is there anything else you would like to add for our listeners that they should know about homeschooling in Arizona or homeschooling in general?
Nancy 19:40 You know, I have just having homeschooled my girls all the way from preschool through high school really value the Trinity. Not only to do academic things with my kids, but homeschooling is so much more than science and math and grammar and history. Those things are part of family and homeschool. It’s not separate your education, but just the relationships that are built. The character development, not just in your kids, but in Utah. You know, I’ve heard moms say things like, Oh, I’m not patient enough to homeschool. Well, none of us really were. No, I’ll look bad cause you got to survive and you don’t, you know, you just realize your kids are with you 24 seven and they’re going to model their behavior after course. And so I think homeschooling kind of is the, for that fertile ground where we get to cultivate the character qualities that we want our children to follow.
Nancy 20:39 So I think it’s just, it’s a beautiful thing. Experience and the relationships are so important. And then the things that you can explore because you know, seat work, three or four hours. Yeah. All afternoon and evening. Me and my girls in high school had internships and jobs and you know, we’re exploring that they loved and they had all the time in the world because their schoolwork wasn’t, you know, seven, eight hours a day. And then hours of homework. We had such a fun family experience too because just academics worked into it. And of course art don’t always, we don’t always get along. We don’t know. You know, sometimes we butt heads or whatever. But that gives us an opportunity to grow as humans in relating to people we might disagree with. So he can get along with your family. I think you can get along anybody
Vicki 21:34 Absolutely. And sometimes the behavior that gets mirrored back in your kids is behavior that you realize you have had yourself and you go, I need to change that. Yeah. I’ve had a lot of people say, I am not patient enough and I, and I just say, you know what, neither am I and here I am.
NAncy 22: And I think parents, you know, the ones that make me feel are the ones that have a fivefold and they’re freaking out about how am I going to chemistry. Okay. You don’t need to teach chemistry today. You know, worry about kindergarten and first. And it’s amazing the resources that are available. You know, there’s curriculum is written for the whole mom. There’s DVDs and online classes and things you can do. They can do community college in high school and get their, you know, some Katy college credits and get a jumpstart on their college education too. And so there’s just so many opportunities. I thought about things two, three, five, 10 years from now. Cause you’ll have what you need when you get there. But you don’t need the answer to how to
Vicki 22:46 Exactly. Exactly. Take it one step at a time. There’s that that saying you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time and you can only homeschool one grade at a time.
Nancy 23:00 Yeah. Well I’m so grateful you just for the opportunity to homeschool um, it’s been my honor to serve the Arizona homes well community. Like I said at the beginning for the past 16 years and even before that I ran a homeschool newsletter hero. Lots of people subscribe to that. It’s just such a joy to see connected and to see how rich and diverse our community is and how welcoming Arizona homes families are to those. Just John’s journey of education at home. And of course it was the state wide organization. We’re here to help a website with lots of great articles. We publish the magazine, we have invention, aye. And then you can call our number and either I will answer the phone or one of our board members or team members will answer and you can ask questions. And so I just want people to know that we’re here to help. And all year long we’re watching things like that might impact homeschool freedom. We don’t want to lose the freedom that we currently have. That’s one of the big things that are in innovation does too. But we are so blessed to live in a state like Arizona that, um, so much freedom for, to really customize their children’s education. Yes, absolutely.
Vicki 24:22 Well, Nancy, it was, it has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you this evening and, I appreciate it. And I’m sure all of our listeners will gain so much information from this podcast and hopefully they’ll check out everything that will be in the show notes on how to get in touch with AFHE and learn more about homeschooling
AFHE 24:41 Awesome. Thanks for having me. Absolutely.