about how lucky we are in Alberta to have so many education options for our children.
When we first started to home school we did a bunch of research and came to the conclusion to go with 100% parent led studies, which in Alberta is referred to as “Traditional” home schooling. We also had in the back of our minds that, perhaps once our oldest was getting closer to the senior middle school years, we would explore our option to go the Blended route.
What are our choices for Home Schooling?
‘Traditional’ or ‘Basic’ Home Schooling means the programs of study for your children are set by you, the parent. Your vision, your goals, in keeping with Alberta Education’s Schedule of Learner Outcomes in the Home Education Regulation. This allows the parent the freedom to choose from a wide variety of curriculum to help support goals. Seeing as all children have different needs this freedom is very beneficial. Traditional home education is funded under the Home Education Regulation, meaning that all traditional programs generate the same funding for the school, and they must direct half of this funding to your family for resources – which is around $820.
‘Blended’ or ‘Fully Aligned’ Education means the programs of study for your children are set by both you the parent as well as your school – at the directive of a teacher representative – and follow the Alberta Programs of Study (the same learner outcomes, by grade, as are taught in school). It actually isn’t considered “home schooling” by Alberta Education. Different schools present your options in several different ways, but it boils down to the same legislation. In grades 1-9 the division of responsibility is 50/50. 50% must legally be taught by the school, and 50% is taught by the parent. This percentage may be as high as 100% school responsibility, with the child doing correspondence or online programming. Once your children reach high school (grades 10-12), the percentage changes to 20% school board alignment and the other 80% can be parent led. Blended education is funded the same way schools are. If you are doing a 50/50% split, the school receives 50% of full school funding for your child, and 50% home education funding. This allows the board to share a higher amount with the family, at their discretion.
a) Both routes include teacher/facilitator visits to your home throughout the year. Depending which you choose will determine what role your facilitator will play in the support of your education choices.
b) The above information was accurate at time of publication.
Well, the time came and we decided to venture into the Blended world for a short time. Long enough to know that it wasn’t a fit for our family.
Our school’s interpretation of Blended (where the board has a minimum of 50% of instruction responsibility) saw them giving different “percentage weights” to different subjects. So Math could be worth 25% and Language Arts 30%, Social Studies 15%, etc. With this board, you could simply align Math and Language Arts and be 5% ahead of your required minimum.
The math curriculum we love and works so well for my children and myself wasn’t accepted by the school board – because it wasn’t following the same outline as Alberta’s classroom program for those specific grades. Since I aligned math, I either had to use whatever they recommend or continue to use mine and supplement with whatever they chose.
I have to admit, this was hard. After all, I chose this math program for a reason; my husband and I spent careful time and consideration to find a fit that covered what would be needed while making Math more meaningful. My kids love doing Math, have such a solid grasp of numbers, place value, etc and they excel at it. So having to supplement and add to this amazing program – here and there – actually detracted from the curriculum we were using instead of adding to their knowledge. Nonetheless, we did achieve what was required of us and my kids still like Math… we just have to work on getting the “I Love Math” attitude back. (Which is already getting back on track!)
This is just one example of why Blended was not a good fit for our family. I have heard similar stories from other families who chose Blended education. I have also witnessed some moms feeling so bogged down trying to keep up to all that is required of them that they soon feel frustrated. I should also add I do understand how it can be a good fit for some, and that each school offering a blended education in Alberta may have differing requirements and expectations of their families. We are very fortunate to be able to chose what method of education works for our families.
I am very confident in our decision to now stay on the Traditional home schooling track!
If nothing else, our little experiment with Blended showed us that what we were previously doing with our children (in the light of Traditional home schooling) was working. Our Blended teacher/facilitator often sang the praises of our children. Their skills and knowledge were tested at above grade level. They proved to be well rounded individuals out in our community, too, taking part in a variety of sports/activities and volunteer opportunities.
We have been extremely fortunate in all our years of home schooling to have amazing support from our facilitators.
When choosing a school board to notify with I cannot stress enough the interview process. Take the time to talk with each school board and ask lots of questions. They are there to help you – the parent and primary educator of your children – facilitate your education goals for your family. You need to know they support you in this role.
Home schooling is such a blessing and I am thankful I have the option to choose and go back to our Traditional style of homeschooling where I can design programs for my kids and they can continue to flourish!
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