NOTE: I asked Shawna Robinson to write this article for our Education Portal to help people exiting the public school system hear how to do it from someone who just went through the process.
Article by Shawna Robinson
When I first had the inkling I’d like to homeschool our kids, like most things, I started with online research. It was safe and private without having to express what I felt was an “outrageous” idea to another human being other than my husband. I read blogs, found some awesome communities on social media, and went down bunny trails of post comments. Then I completed an online quiz: “What kind of a homeschooler are you?”
The results COMPLETELY shocked me: Unschooler
Me, the daughter of two teachers, was oriented towards unschooling? This felt not only outrageous and rebellious, but SO in alignment with how we have been parenting our daughters for their entire lives; nurturing their creativity outside of external constraints, celebrating qualities and attributes you’d never find on a report card and encouraging them to think with their hearts.
When we finally made the decision to homeschool, our priority was finding a Supervising Homeschooling Board that was in alignment with our values.With over 40 Supervising Homeschooling Boards in Alberta, we had many great options to choose from! The Alberta Homeschooling Association has a full list of boards and is an invaluable website for anyone in Alberta considering homeschooling.
We knew that parent-lead homeschooling was the right option for us. And our top priority was finding a board that aligned with this approach to supporting our daughters. Second to that, we had a list of priorities. So,I called up several boards and asked them MANY questions, including these:
•Does the board offer opportunities for social connection with families/other kids either through courses, programs or Phys Ed activities?
•Do the facilitators have experience homeschooling themselves? (Key for this first timer to know ‘the blind wasn’t leading the blind’)
•What are the funding reimbursement policies and procedures?
•Are there board-sponsored learning tools, such as online resources, offered at a discount? (Think: math programs, reading apps and Minecraft!)
•Is there a support group, newsletter, or other communication methods for ongoing parent support?
•How many facilitator visits are there per year and what are the expectations of these visits?
From the phone calls, we short-listed several boards at the end of June.We wanted to make our selection and send in our application by mid-July to ensure we had enough time to receive notification of acceptance prior to September. In Alberta, the declaration to homeschool and
relevant paperwork must be submitted and approved prior to September 30th to receive full funding of $850/child.
The board we selected was based on a combination of ticking all these boxes on our list, and just a strong intuitive feeling that it was where our family belonged.So far, every touch point with this board has been nothing but positive, transparent, supportive, and encouraging.
Making the decision to do fully-parent supervised homeschool has required some extra effort on our part to be prepared with curriculum and how we want to deliver it. But it also provided an opportunity to get input from our daughters into what interested they have, or what topics they want to dive deeper into to truly embrace our family learning vision: Learn what you love. Love what you learn.
As you go forward looking for the best-fit Home Schooling board, remember this: it’s the first step to building your community and a decision best made balancing your head and your heart.
by Shawna Robinson
Shawna Robinson is a rookie homeschool mom and an award-winning children’s author who starts each day knowing that there will always be a plot twist and room for magic to unfold. The best part of her homeschooling day is every moment she gets to spend with her family exploring the limits of their imaginations and not stressing out about unfolded laundry.
You can find her storybooks and collection of read-aloud stories at www.EverydayIcing.com