I have this poster hanging on our fridge, and it is blowing my mind.
Oh, I knew this was coming up, this whole "technical start to schooling" thing. I've been looking at our options for a long time now. I expected that we'd flow into it smoothly, without any fanfare, with life-learning simply continuing to be part of our everyday.
But that? That poster up there? It makes it so official.
I didn't expect this to be so incomprehensible to my poor brain. I didn't expect to feel such a crazy burst of pride as we walked out of that school after enrolling in their homelearners program. I didn't expect the boy's bubbling excitement, his huge grin at the prospect. I didn't expect any of it and so I wasn't prepared.
He's growing up, and I am so stinkin' proud of him.
Technical stuff for those interested in BC's homeschooling options and why we made the choice we did (AKA me being slightly defensive because I am a sell-out):
Here in British Columbia, we enjoy what are arguably the most homeschooling freedoms in North America. There are two options for homeschoolers in the province:
- Register: Register as a homeschooler through any provincial school. Under this option, the parent is considered the sole teacher and no accountability is required in terms of reporting or meeting Provincial Learning Outcomes. No funding or resources are provided.
- Enroll: Enroll with a Distributed Learning Program approved by the Ministry of Education. Under this option, the child is overseen by a certified teacher, and the school is considered "in charge" of the student's educational program. The student must achieve the Provincial Learning Outcomes; evaluation is based on regular portfolio reviews that provide evidence of learning. Funding and resources are provided.
(More detailed explanations can be found at BC Homeschool Association, BC Home Learner's Association, and BC Minister of Education.)
We have chosen, for the time being, to enroll with a Distributed Learning center. We chose this option because while the reporting requirements are minimal at this level (more accurately stated, the learning objectives are easy to naturally obtain for the average child), the financial benefits are quite significant.
In other words, I am a sell-out.*
I want to be the noble person who turns her nose up at what is essentially the government's bribe to hold would-be homeschoolers accountable to the province's predetermined learning outcomes. I really want to be that person. We've gone around and around on this issue since moving here, but it always comes back to the same thing: turning down that amount of money to do what we'd be doing anyway doesn't seem like a logical move, especially right now with a student husband and a work-at-home wife.
We will continue with this option until such time as the reporting requirements become too stringent/specific (local popular opinion seems to be that this happens around the sixth grade). At that time, we will register as homeschoolers and forgo the extra funding. We are in complete agreement, my husband and I, that it will not even be a question; the additional funding is not at all worth having to force our children down one very specific educational path when the valid options are so incredibly vast.
The particular center we have enrolled with offers two days of optional classes per week (covering specialty programs such as gym, music, art, science, and French), which is advantageous in terms of increased opportunities. We will meet with our learning consultant thrice-yearly for a portfolio review. The program, from all accounts, is very relaxed and unschooling-friendly. It sounds like a very good fit for us at this point in our lives.
I know the government doesn't consider us official homeschoolers because we have chosen to enroll instead of register. I know a lot of homeschoolers don't consider us true homeschoolers either. But for now we're just shrugging our shoulders and doing what we'd be doing either way - only now we also get some funding to help purchase some of our homelearning resources.
I do feel like a sell-out for failing to support the path that grants homeschoolers the greatest freedom and least government intervention, all in the name of money. However, unlike some, I very much consider this path to be fully homeschooling, despite the reporting and accountability requirements. All classes are optional. All curriculum (or lack thereof) is determined by me. All instruction is provided by me. Specific goals are set by me. There are general requirements set forth by the learning outcomes, nearly all of which our soon-to-be kindergartner has already met for his upcoming year, but there is much room even there to allow those learning outcomes to met in a variety of relaxed and life-based ways. As soon as that is no longer the case, we will switch to registration rather than enrollment (provided, as some would quite fairly point out, that freedom is still available to homeschoolers despite the number of homeschooling families who are choosing enrollment over registration).
Well! All said, it will be interesting to see how this first year goes. I currently envision it being quite laid back, especially with the baby arriving mid-August. But most of all, we'll see. We'll see what works for us. We'll see what we think of our Distributed Learning program. We'll see where life takes us.
* Disclaimer: When I say that I am a sell-out, I mean that I feel like I am a sell-out. I do not in away way feel the same towards other homeschooling families who have chosen to enroll. Truly. What can I say, I'm a paradox that way.