Friday, September 14, 2007


For the past three years, the kids have been enrolled in a program set up by a local private school that provides us with $1000 (per kid) worth of funding toward the kids' various activities in exchange for a little bit of weekly reporting on my part. The school is based on a strong belief in child-led learning, so they are very unschooling friendly, and the kids have never been affected by their enrollment - they live their lives, I write up a synopsis of what they get up to, and our facilitator turns that into "educationese" in order to satisfy the government body holding the purse strings. So far, so good. I'm well aware that, according to the government, we aren't actually considered homeschoolers because of our affiliation with this school (it irks the hell out of me, but I've learned to live with it) - but then again, I'm not really homeschooling for political reasons (although I guess we all are to some extent).
We're lucky here in BC, because we have the choice to opt out of the education system and teach our children however we want, no questions asked. That's how we did it for the first few years, but as the kids got older and wanted to take more and more classes, the pull of the funding was pretty hard to turn down.
My reason for saying all this is that I'm thinking of pulling out of the program because of the work that lies ahead of us with the building of our house. My husband and I are planning to do most of the interior finishing ourselves over the coming fall/winter, and I don't foresee having a lot of spare time on my hands. The only problem is, we need the school funding now more than ever! The $1000 barely covers music lessons, and there's still photography, Capoeira, and gymnastics to pay for (and now we've discovered a really cool "knight training" class)!
I think it's pretty obvious that we can't continue with this particular program. There is the possibility of switching to the government's DEL (Distance Education) program, which offers the same funding and only requires a portfolio per term rather than daily input, but they're also more "schooly" in their expectations and therefore less unschooling friendly (I don't really care if my kids learn about the first World War in grade 10 or grade 2).
I guess my other options are to try and come up with a way for us to do our own fundraising (Bake sales? Handmade greeting cards with the kids' artwork?), or to cut back on activites, which I don't want to do.
How do the rest of you make your homeschooling ends meet?


Michelle Ellis said...

We have to pay for all our own lessons as well. My kids get to pick one lesson/class/activity at a time. And we unschool as well.

Heather said...

Hi Cheryl
We are with the same kind of program (possibly the very same one) that it sounds like you were in last year. We have been there for 3 years and it is a very good fit for us. The weekly reporting can, at times, feel like a bit much with all the other stuff I always have on the go, but it is worth it to me. It is worth it because it gives me a record of the days and years with my boys, not just of "learny" stuff but of all the things that are going on in our lives. I never would keep this kind of journal of our days without "having "to, just like I never did get around to doing baby books really. I certainly do like the $$ that we get from this program but I also like knowing that we are supporting this program and helping, in some small way, to make this kind of program possible. I like being a part of a pretty cool program that really does support all kinds of learning. I like being part of the kind of community (and online community) that really understands what we want our kids' education to be like. They really get it!! This is such a different feeling than what we had at the regular DL where there was always a feeling of they were putting up with you in the hope that you would see the light and put your kid back in school. Or if not that, then at least fall in line and follow some of their curriculum because the kids "needed" to know this stuff. I remember one of the other teachers saying to one of the parents that the child needed to do this particular lesson at this particular grade otherwise there would be "gaps" in that child's education. And then what? The implication was that all would be lost and the child would forever be behind if they did not learn about Egyptians at the right age. Good grief. We spent five years with that regular DL program and, although it started out great, it got more regimented as time went on.( I hear that is quite common) We still did whatever we wanted because our contact teacher was great and I was very assertive but right before we left I was warned things would get stricter. Also because, at that time, my son would have been grade four age they would have had to assign grades, and that just doesn't fit with our family. It makes no sense to me that a teacher that sees a portfolio of my son's work three times a year is in any position to "grade" him. By the end of the year I felt like we were wasting too much of our energy on a program that didn't support our real idea of what learning should be and I didn't want them to be getting any money anymore because of my son being enrolled there. Anyway, that is my, rather long-winded, rant. I hope you find something that works for your family. Maybe as a fund-raiser you could have a farm stand and sell some of your veggies and fruit when you get your new home built. My kids love selling fruit at the end of our driveway. :-)

Cheryl said...

Chelee - I guess that might be what we'll have to do. There are just so many interesting things to do (and none of them are cheap)!

Heather - Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. It sounds like we probably are with the same program. Like you, I kind of like the "forced journalling" aspect of it, I think it really helped reinforce for me just how much learning kids get up to even if it doesn't look like school.
I appreciate your comments on the other program as well. A few friends of mine are with Ebus and claim that they are able to unschool with them, but I am very hesitant to go that route.
This would be our fourth year with our existing program, so we've got the routine down pat, but I found the reporting very difficult last year when we were trying to get our house ready to sell, and I can only imagine that it will be worse while we're building. Our learning consultant thinks we might be able to work something out though, so we'll see what happens.

Thanks again to both of you for taking the time to respond!

dawn said...

I am in Alberta, so I don't know that my perspective is great. I have done un schooling with the kids and it works with our school board. We are a bit freer here and get funding (if we go traditional), with only the 2 visits a year. Despite getting the funding, having 4 kids in programs and lessons is steep so a few years ago, I got a part time job. I still have a part time job and the amount I get from it, probably pays for one activity. I am not great at accounting and don't set that aside, but the totals work out. I am not sure about the bi laws in your area for you acreage, but are chickens an option. My sisters get 50 chickens per year for laying (decrease by attrition), and after spending some, recently put $2000 in the bank. They sell the eggs for only $2/dozen. They are fortunate to get feed from the farm and feed garden vegetable scraps to them. This year they got 75 as the demand for eggs is so great. I get mine from them for free, and sell eggs for them. They dropped off 62 dozen yesterday from their chickens and my aunts chickens. I sell them 10 dozen at a time to some people, and they in turn sell or give them to relatives. We got a coup this year and have to finish it up, then will get 50 chickens in the spring.

I know if you are working on your house you won't want to get something time consuming to bring in money so that is why I suggested chickens, and you can put a sign out your driveway, and a cooler and people can pick them up on the honour system or the kids can go out and sell them freeing you up.

I hope you find something, I know the struggle all to well.

Elizabeth said...

Ah~, let me just say this; you and your blog are wonderful!

I am compiling a list of blogs and books for my parental units to look at about unschooling and people's varied views about it.

I am working very hard to get them to see my opinion of education and to accept it and support me with this endeavor .

So, thanks for posting!