Friday, 16 March 2012

Welcome to Kindergarten


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.

We'll see.


* 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.

13 comments:

  1. Congratulations! Ah! What I do every day still makes me quiver. So excited for you.

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND: Buy a set of encyclopedias, if you don't have some already, while you have the money. We bought our first set the year I started homeschooling ('91) and just replaced them. On a page per page usage rate, more bang per buck than ANYTHING else I every purchased.

    In our house, the best days were they days that ten or fifteen volumes were scattered all over the kitchen table.

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    1. What a great tip; thank you! I wouldn't have even though of encyclopedias yet. So grateful for the advice of those who have already been there.

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  2. How can any parent who has made a careful, well-informed decision for the good of the family unit be a sell-out? I'm so glad that you have several amazing school options, and that your son is so excited about this next year! I definitely hope more US States follow BC's lead when it comes to education.

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    1. I do feel bad for not supporting to path of greatest freedom and flexibility, but I hope this choice really does turn out to be for the good of our family. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  3. Yeah! This is our "kindergarten" year (we started in September) but really we are just playing around and winging it. Plus, she went to full-time preschool last year, and I feel like I should be letting her do more fun stuff on her own this year. (It's like we did the two years in reverse.) Living on a military installation overseas basically means we don't have to "adhere" to any particular guidelines. Next year we just have to file a letter with the school district, keep a portfolio of notes (I'm not really sure about that one), and have her evaluated by a school psychologist once a year. That last part freaks me out a bit because I have no idea what they actually do/ask her/expect of her . . . E is pretty timid around strangers. I guess we'll figure that out when it becomes an issue. And then we will only spend two years in that state and move again . . . and probably again 2 more times before she's a teenager . . . which was a big part of our decision to homeschool in the first place. You are totally not a sell out, BTW, and you are going to rock at this. Best wishes as you start your journey.

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  4. YAY! Exciting days ahead!!!!! And you are NOT a sell out!!! You are making an informed decision that best fits your families needs at this time.... that's smart. I can't wait to read about all of the adventures that you and the boys enjoy!!

    But I would disagree that BC offers the most freedom for homeschoolers - not if registering with the government is mandatory. ;)

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    1. Are there any provinces that do not require a minimum of registering a letter of intent to homeschool? I assumed this was a universal requirement.

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    2. I was similarly under the impression that each province at least required some form of letter of intent submitted to the gov't. I'm looking forward to The Canadian Homeschooler's upcoming blog series detailing homeschooling requirements throughout Canada; it should be very enlightening! Regardless, I very much enjoy the flexibility and variety of options homeschoolers are afforded here in BC.

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    3. My apologies, it was their sister site, the Canadian Homeschool Society, that is currently running the province-by-province regulation series.

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    4. Ontario's homeschool laws do indeed require a letter of intent sent to the local school board, essentially identical to BC's registration option.

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  5. woooh! homeschooling isn't super popular here in Australia, however having said that I have had a few friends who have been successfully undertaking schooling their little ones. As a teacher, I totally support what you are doing - good on you!! Our biggest son started full time school this year (called Prep year here)... and I can say i felt a lot of the same sentiments - Ie: so stinkin proud.

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  6. Very exciting for you all!! :o)

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  7. Can't believe that little guy is so old! Good on you for making a decision that works best for you guys right now :)

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