Monday , 10 May 2021

Pandemic causes spike in homeschooling enrollment

School of Hope and Wisdom Homeschooling are both reporting double the number of students enrolled than last school year.

Local homeschooling organizations have doubled their enrollment following COVID-19, but administrators are ready for the year ahead.

Both the School of Hope in Vermilion and Wisdom Homeschooling in Derwent offer online learning (teacher-directed), homeschooling (parent-directed) and shared learning (a blend of both) for Grades 1–12 students in every corner of the province.

Wisdom Homeschooling’s chief operating officer, TobyLauren Burgess, moderates a Facebook group called ‘Alberta Homeschooling’ for people curious about homeschooling.

As a homeschool graduate herself and homeschool teacher to her five children, Burgess answers questions newcomers might have.

She said the group is adding 300 people a day as interest grows for homeschooling.

“People are really concerned for a variety of reasons. They either are receiving too much or not enough control which causes a lot of stress. A lot of people are looking for support and advice,” said Burgess.

With alternative options at these schools, students have opportunities to individualize their programming around their strengths-for example one could participate in Grade 6 Language Arts at the same time as Grade 4 Math.

At School of Hope, principal Michel Despins, said coming from brick and mortar schools, parents and students are used to a certain structure, so more of them are interested in trying online learning.

Neither school has a final count on how many new enrollments they have this year.

With the significant family intake increase, both schools will adjust staffing as necessary.

“There’s not much adapting that we need to do,” said Despins.

“Older students used to need to have non-relatives proctor their exams, but with social distancing, they will now be sent to parents.”

With most learning done online or at home, Despins said group activities such as trips to museums would remain on hold until better times.

Alberta Education’s enrollment deadline is September 30, so schools will continue registering new students until that time.

Burgess said that Alberta has great educational choices, and at Wisdom that more people are choosing to begin parent-directed homeschooling.

She said she understands where parents are coming from in these uncertain times.

“We are in the trenches right along with the families, and we want to support them as they get started,” said Burgess.

“I want to encourage people to make the most of homeschooling and to grow their children’s love of learning.”

About Angela Mouly

Angela comes to Lakeland Connect after leaving traditional newspaper where she spent the past four years reporting on community events. Her repertoire includes writing about history, politics, agriculture, sports, entertainment and art. She was the third place recipient of an AWNA General Excellence Award for “Best Front Page” during their 2016 Better Newspaper Competition. Angela has lived in rural Alberta all her life and in Vermilion for the past 15 years. She looks forward to continuing to serve and inform the Lakeland community by joining in people's many adventures and sharing their stories.