For Stacey Brown, the ability to educate her three children in a way that best fits each kid’s needs is of utmost importance. This led her to homeschool her children for six years—a decision that meant Brown would frequently use hand-me-down curriculums, which were often missing pertinent pieces to save money. But after Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed into law a universal Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program in September 2022, Brown says she now has the ability to afford the homeschooling materials she needs. 

“A lot of people don’t realize that to homeschool a child … curriculum alone can cost anywhere between several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. And that’s just to meet their basic needs,” Brown explained, noting that some curriculum packages have additional, costly components, such as lab equipment, that have cost her family hundreds of dollars. 

According to Brown, access to ESA funds for her children’s homeschooling education has been life-changing and transformative. One of Brown’s purchases was math manipulatives for her kindergartener, Addison, to help illustrate abstract mathematical concepts. After several months, the manipulatives helped Addison progress to a second-grade math level.

“My kindergartener is almost done with second-grade math and is moving on to third-grade math. Because we’re homeschooled, we’re able to really tailor any educational needs that my children have,” she said. “She’s been able to take her skill set of math at such a young age and be able to advance those skills rapidly, where if she were in public school, she would have to be forced to be able to learn alongside everybody else.”

Though she homeschools her own children, Brown says that she and her husband Aaron value public school immensely because he teaches at public school. As such, they recognize that many families don’t have the same flexibility to teach their children at home. With Aaron having time off during summer vacation, the family can travel the country together for tangible, hands-on learning experiences.

The Browns have taken their children to almost all 50 states, crafting travel plans that include locations her kids had just learned about, like Mount Rushmore or Washington, D.C. In addition to preferring a flexible educational style to teach her children from anywhere, Brown valued the concept of homeschooling to be around them more often.

Indeed, children who attend public schools spend on average over six hours away from home for around 180 days each year. This doesn’t account for extracurricular activities, typically scheduled in the afternoons or early evenings during the school week. With her children’s homeschool schedule flexibility, Brown can take her kids to their swim lessons or other physical education classes during the daytime instead. 

“I want to be able to be involved in everything that they’re doing, and no other person in the world can love my children and provide for them in the way that my husband and I can,” she said.

Brown said she feels incredibly grateful for universal ESAs nurturing her children’s life skills and helping her tailor homeschooling to best fit each child’s very different educational needs. In fact, Brown has become so passionate about school choice that she is now a grassroots advocate leader for Arizona’s ESA Education For All parent movement.

“I’ve heard of success stories of people in inner-city situations, and their children are stuck in a school system, and parents don’t have any other way out, but they aren’t happy with it. And [the universal ESA program] provides them so many opportunities,” she said. “You can choose private school, you can choose homeschool, and you can choose a micro-school. There are just numerous access points for all families to be able to get the help they need for their children. It is spectacular.”

For more information about Education Savings Accounts, click here.
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