If you know me, you know that I am a big advocate for finding what works for you in homeschool. I frequently say that the beauty of homeschool is that no two families have to do it the same way. I do think it is our responsibility as our child’s educators to make sure they have the basic skills required to be successful in life, but I acknowledge there are many different ways to get there. Honestly, I even think that, within the same family, often no two homeschool years will look the same. I know I am constantly assessing what has worked, what hasn’t worked, what we’ve been lacking and how we can get it, what would make things more enjoyable or efficient, etc. With that being said, we’ve made some changes this year that I’ve been asked to elaborate on so I thought this would be an easy way to do it! (I also hope to go live on my FB and do stories on my IG to talk about this as well).
we switched school boards
So, the change that brought on all other changes is that we actually switched school boards this year. Here in Alberta, you have to be registered through A school board, but it does not have to be a local one. For the past 2 years we were registered through a homeschool board in southern Alberta and we did enjoy them. Because I feel so much confidence in my delivery of the kids programming, it wasn’t stressful for me to not have a local boards support. This board we were with still did visit twice a year to our home and was available through email at any time.
This year our local board decided to provide a homeschool umbrella for the first time. After countless conversations with the lady who was in charge of the homeschool aspect as well as the principal of the local school, we decided to register under the local public board for this year. There were multiple reasons BUT the biggest was just the chance to access some things locally we otherwise would not be able to.
We feel very confident in our decision to homeschool our kids and have many factors that have influenced that decision, but I also think that so many schools do amazing things. For instance, our local public elementary school teaches violin from K – grade 6. This was a HUGE factor in our deciding to register under this board. Another big factor is that Sophie has been accessing public speech therapy through Alberta Health since she was 3 but they age out of that program once they enter school. To keep her in that as a homeschooler, we would have had to do that privately which would mean lots of travel. Now that we are homeschooling under the local board, she can access speech therapy through the school.
This board change hasn’t changed my role in homeschooling. I am still doing traditional homeschooling where as a parent I can choose any resources and topics I like to teach my children. They don’t have to take standardized tests and aren’t required to meet grade level outcomes (although personally I do strive for this). The girls are registered students of the local school but we have signed our intent to homeschool. This has opened up some neat opportunities for us to blend the programming a bit to meet both of their needs.
(We are the only elementary homeschoolers in this schools area so I must say I am so thankful for their willingness and openness to work with me on figuring out what works best for the girls and all parties involved. They’ve been amazing)
Practically What Does This Look Like
In some ways, this is still a work in progress. It took a couple weeks to work out the kinks but we have arrived on a “schedule” that is working for us for now. We will see when the snow flies if it is still working.
So 3 mornings a week, Hailey attends violin class there for 20 minutes. This is the biggest reason we decided to blend our programming this year and are so excited for her to learn a new skill. They also do music theory one afternoon a week so she attends that. When school started, we learned that art and gym are the other subjects that afternoon. This child LOVES to draw. She is a far better artist than I am. I have heard nothing but great things about the grade 2 teacher as an artist so we decided that she would go that one afternoon a week for the full afternoon. She loves it! That day she packs her snack and I drop her off after lunch. She gets to do art, snacktime, recess, music and gym. Its working out wonderfully so far. Music and Art are my weakest areas where I have limited skill and interest. Coincidentally they are areas where she has great interest and skill so this is a beautiful way for her to learn from people with similar skills and interests. I cannot speak enough good about the grade 2 teacher who has so seamlessly welcomed Hailey in and has been amazing to roll with the punches on her sporadic attendance.
When Hailey has morning violin, Sophie and I do her school work in the school library. Being able to sign books out (and any teacher resources for me) from the school library has been an added bonus.
Sophie goes 2 mornings a week for speech and she loves her teacher there. The kindergarten teacher even so nicely gave her a locker to keep her sneakers and water bottle in for when she comes. Currently this is all Sophie is comfortable doing and that is fine with me. Sometimes she goes in for center time when Hailey is doing her art and gym that one afternoon a week. I’m not looking to push her at all but following her lead on her comfort level. I am so pleased that we can access speech therapy locally and to see her enjoying going and meeting up with her speech teacher.
We have also joined in for some special events, such as Terry Fox Run and a chicken soup lunch so far this year. This is a fun way to work on building community in this little town. Since I sub at this school it’s also a fun way for me to get to know the kids more.
This is really an open hand situation. This is what it looks like right now and we are happy. Will it look like this in January? Maybe? Maybe not? Check back in then. Will it look like this next year? Unlikely as we are most likely moving next fall. So we will continue in this manner as long as it is beneficial and enjoyable for all parties.
All academic subjects are still done here at home and it hasn’t changed our programming here in any way. This is just allowing the girls to get some extras they weren’t getting.
I am happy to answer any and all questions about this arrangement and clarify anything that still seems confusing. Leave questions here and I can answer them here or in a life post on social media.