I’ve got my HB pencils, packs of markers and fresh binders. I’m still looking for a decent price on lined paper. And study books have yet to arrive in the mail. But I’m deep in the heart of planning for the next month…or the next middle of the month, whenever summer temperatures abate and not before.
I’ve been an advocate of homeschooling for about ten years. I’ve dabbled in many forms, playing the part of an unschooler, classical homeschooler, Charlotte Mason homeschooler, and I have come to the same conclusion that most homeschoolers come to at about this time: I’m an eclectic homeschooler. I can take from every aspect of the educational system and educational theories that I like, what seems to apply to my kids, and I leave the rest for someone else.
According to my provincial law, I am indeed a homeschooler. This seems an obvious thing to say, because my kids are at home during a typical kids’ day at a brick and mortar school. But in my part of the world, many kids distance learn from home. They have a connection to a distance learning school with a teacher and learning outcomes and grades and exams and all that jazz. It looks like homeschooling to the schooled world, because the kids are typically at home doing that work, but the government doesn’t think so.
To each their own of course. I’m long past sticking people in boxes about their educational choices. Or believing that one way is the only way. I know the reasons I went into this lifestyle: freedom. Freedom to learn what we want to learn. Freedom to live a less constrained life. Freedom to live a family-centric life. Hmm, what comes to mind is a post I wrote about little girls in white dresses slamming screen doors as they run in from the garden. Turns out they’re way past wearing white dresses at 15, 13 and 11. More like lululemons and waist high jean cut offs. There was classical music playing in the background to my homeschool vision. In reality: top 20 as they contemporary dance their way across our hardwood floors. What my reality is and what was my original vision definitely don’t align, but the freedom most certainly remains the theme.
So though we all make different decisions for so many different reasons, for anyone entering the homeschool world in British Columbia, know that there are two ways to enter it. The following is written by an advocate of the kind of homeschooling we do:
“Many folks aren’t aware that there are two separate paths you can take with home learning in BC. One is to completely opt out of the school system entirely, other than registering your child, via a school or Distributed Learning (DL) program, as a section 12/13 homeschooler.
If you chose the Registered option you are not required to follow BC curriculum, there is no mandatory testing at any point, and your child is not required to work toward grade 12 “graduation” with a Dogwood Certificate (despite what school officials will tell you). The only thing you as the parent must do is provide an “educational program” that YOU believe will sufficiently prepare your child to be a fulfilled, contributing member of society (see the definitions section of the School Act as well as sections 3, 12, 13 & 14 for exact wording). The flip side of having this kind of freedom is that you do not receive any government funding–there are many good reasons for this and if you want to read about that I can dig up a link to an excellent piece that explains how the funding works.
One thing to note is that Registered Homeschoolers can enter the school system at any time they wish, with no testing. They just get placed with their age mates. So there is no “need” to start with a DL school in order to “keep options” open. In fact only grade 10-12 count for a high school diploma.
Okay, the other homelearning route in BC is to enroll in a Distributed Learning program, all of which are authorized by the Ministry of Education and are simply another method of curriculum delivery within the education system. You are expected to follow the BC curriculum and meet the learning outcomes more or less at grade level, and you are assigned a teacher who is considered by the Ministry to be in charge of your child’s education, not you. Regular reporting is required, report cards are issued, and the Ministry considers DLs to be the same as brick & mortar schools in terms of rights and obligations. There is a fair amount of variation in the DLs, and there are both public and independent ones–one of the main differences is that independent ones are allowed to include religious materials in the curriculum, although there are also secular independent DLs. The website LearnNowBC has a complete listing of the DL programs, although polling other families via Facebook or email groups for their experience is more valuable than just reading the program descriptions. One of the biggest draws to DLs has been the allotment the programs provide to families for third-party services like music lessons or sports activities that the programs can’t provide directly. Until recently that allotment was generally around $1,000 per child per year, but the Ministry has now capped third-party spending at $600; the total amount hasn’t changed, but the programs are now expected to provide more stuff with that $400 difference, rather than letting families spend it on outside services. Another draw has been the access to special needs funding that a number of the DLs are known for handling very effectively, and many families have benefited from individualized access to therapies that otherwise aren’t available via the regular school system. As well, many DLs organize classes, field trips and activities for their students that fall within curriculum requirements. It’s important to note that DLs are not obligated to provide an allotment to families at all; if they choose to put all the funding toward their programming, that’s their prerogative.
So, bottom line: section 12/13 registration = not part of the school system, do whatever you want, no strings attached and government considers you a Homeschooler; OR Distributed Learning = part of the school system, just not a regular brick & mortar school, expected to follow BC curriculum but also funding for classes and activities provided in varying amounts.
Whew! Hope that helps at least one person”
And so do I! May this information provide you with insight on your new-to-homeschool adventure!