Winnipeg South Homeschool Collective (WSHC) says an individualized education is more powerful in community.

Karen Friesen, mother of five and executive director of CK2 Inc., chose to homeschool her own family because "We really felt like it was going to allow us to hold our kids close and also allow us a lot of flexibility as a family.

"We have a number of kids that have learning disabilities as well and it would give us the flexibility to really respond to their needs by working with them at home."

Responding to those individual needs proved to be incredibly beneficial for one of her sons as he was given a diagnosis of several learning challenges that made it seem he would not be able to succeed past a certain level.

The Arrowsmith program gives learners, with different abilities, exercises that then translate into skills like reading and math. This proved to be incredibly impactful for Freisen's son who now plays on the Canadian national football team and has been recruited by football programs all over the country.

"I think there is a perception that a homeschooling family looks a certain way or that a homeschooling child is only capable of 'x'," says Friesen.

"But when we pool our resources and when you see the power of having community and being able to both advocate for what your kids need, to be ablet o choose the lifestyle that your families want to enjoy is all just very, very powerful."

This pooling of resources is how the WSHC finds success.

Friesen says there was a need in the homeschooling community that needed to be addressed which prompted the creation of CK2 Inc. and WSHC.

"We just started as a choir program one afternoon a week and after time parents would say 'I'm interested in a conversational French class' or 'What about dance? Wouldn't that be great?'

"Over the years, we have just sought out people that could provide things that were more suited to group learning and also was just a really welcoming atmosphere where people of all ages and abilities could participate," says Friesen.

Instructors for the WSHC, who offer programs like choir, dance, conversational French and Spanish classes, musical theatre, art, science, and more are either homeschooling parents themselves or professionals.

Friesen says, "There is just this amazing community of educators that - whether they are professionally trained or just people with gifts in that area - are prepared to share their resources. It's just been really powerful to see this community come together and people support each other.

"Many times, homeschoolers are single-income families and I am thankful to be able to support our community by offering opportunities for homeschoolers to share their skills with a wider community while providing an independent income. Our dance instructors, for example, are homeschool grads and this year, six of our classes are taught by homeschooling parents. Other instructors are professionals who we seek out - over the years we have worked with Prairie Theatre Exchange and private art and music studios, for example."

For the Arrowsmith program, Frisen says they, "are specially trained professional teachers who wanted to partner with our alternative education community, providing a powerful resource for students with learning challenges, brain injury or stroke.

"Our classroom has students from age six through 67!"

Friesen credits the Manitoban government for allowing homeschoolers to be very independent in their curriculum and classroom as public education cannot offer the same resources.

She says, "Right now, our education isn't as able to be as flexible as it needs to be with providing individualized programming for people with different learning difficulties." 

For those toying with the idea of joining a homeschool group or even beginning to homeschool themselves, Friesen says, "People are your best resource.

"Come out, make some connections."

WSHC meets from mid-September to the beginning of May at St. Vital EMC Church.