Welcome to the Spring E-News!
It has been a busy winter for your board as we continue to work toward revitalizing the BCHLA. We have been focusing on tasks both small and large, from ordering new cheques and updating our letterhead, to organizing booths at the homeschool conventions and preparing amendments to the Constitution & Bylaws for members to review and vote upon.
One of our goals is to establish methods for remote attendance of general meetings to allow for increased participation across the province. We were hoping to have that in place for this year's AGM, but exploration of the options has shown that setting up the networks of both people and technology will take more time and person-power than is available right now. It will, however, remain a priority for the next board, ideally with more lead-time and member volunteers in place next year. Consequently, we will need members to attend this year's AGM in person to vote on constitutional amendments and elect our new board. In light of this need, and the likelihood that at least some members from outside the lower mainland will be attending the BC Homeschool Convention in Surrey, the BCHLA 2011 Annual General Meeting will be held June 3, 2011 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m., location to be announced. Please attend if you can, to ensure that the results of the votes are representative of as much of the membership as possible.
In recent weeks there have been a flurry of conversations on a number of BC home learning email lists on topics such as: declining numbers of registered homeschoolers and the possible implications of the increased numbers of DL students, different ways of assessing the costs of the education system, and confusion over Ministry terminology. These discussions have been lively at times, thought-provoking at best, and an impressive reflection of the diverse and articulate home learning community here in BC. Contemplating the questions posed and facts presented has not only been eye-opening for the BCHLA Board, but it has also illustrated that parents and school officials alike are in desperate need of clear, complete information about the educational options available to choose from, and their ramifications. This is an area where the BCHLA can play a major role across the province. Educating ourselves and learning from each other is a first crucial step in making fully informed choices about our children's education. It is equally vital if we are to know how to respond to any potential impingements on the right to homeschool.
The Board of the BCHLA understands how important it is that every parent is free to make the educational decision that is best for his or her child and family. We support your right to choose and, in that light, will continue to work with all interested families in preserving our access to Sections 12 and 13 of the School Act, which provides us with the option to homeschool our children without government oversight or guidance.We wish you a very happy spring and hope to see you at our AGM in June!
Your BCHLA Board of Directors
Melanie Wilkins-Ho, President
Rebecca McClure, Vice-President
Giles Grierson, Secretary-Treasurer
Alison Acheson, Newsletter Coordinator
Melissa Hodges, Support Coordinator
Tanja Neely, Member-at-large
Sherri-Lee Pressman, Social Media Minder
Coffee with the Inspector by Melanie Wilkins-Ho
Homeschooling as defined in the School Act is overseen by the Office of the Inspector of Independent Schools (OIIS), a department of the Ministry of Education. OIIS has a rather large portfolio that also includes inspections of independent BC schools and offshore schools offering the BC school curriculum.
At the beginning of April, the Inspector of Independent Schools, Mr. Ed Vanderboom, took time from his very busy travel schedule to meet me for coffee. We discussed a number of topics regarding BC's educational landscape and how it has changed since the implementation of sections 12 - 14 of the School Act. Mr. Vanderboom was confident in the government's commitment to choice in education, as illustrated by the many new programs put in place in recent years, and highlighted by Premier Christy Clark's educational platform. He also assured me that there are no indications the Ministry of Education is considering altering or removing homeschooling rights from the School Act.
When I asked whether he has seen any problems arise concerning homeschooling during his years with OIIS, Mr. Vanderboom said that the few complaints he has ever had to look into were usually related to family conflicts such as custody disputes, rather than any lack of an educational program as required by section 12. His perspective is that homeschooling parents are generally dedicated, organized people with their children's best interests at heart, committed to providing an excellent education that best suits their family's beliefs.
The BCHLA will be touching base with Mr. Vanderboom regularly, keeping the channels of communication open between homeschoolers and the Ministry of Education. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns you would like us to bring to him.
2011 Annual General Meeting
The BCHLA 2011 Annual General Meeting will be held Friday, June 3, 2011 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., location to be announced. Our hope is that turnout will be at least as high as it was for the 2010 AGM, including members from outside the lower mainland who will be coming to Surrey for the BC Homeschooling Convention June 3 & 4. Official notice and an agenda will be sent out to members closer to the meeting date, but please note that in addition to the board elections, we will be voting on proposed amendments to our Constitution & Bylaws, collated from previous years' AGMs. Please take some time to read through the version of the BCHLA Constitution & Bylaws that is currently in effect, which is from 1999.
The proposed revisions will touch on issues such as updating the language to reflect that used in the BC School Act and Ministry of Education policy documents, as well as clarifying membership eligibility and voting structure.
As mentioned above in the introduction, we have not been able to implement remote attendance mechanisms in time for this year's AGM, so it is crucial that members attend in person to vote on the constitutional amendments and elect the new board of directors.
The BCHLA membership year currently runs from September 1 to August 31 of each year. Membership is to be renewed prior to September 1 to retain good standing, but can be renewed at anytime during the year. Anyone who joins the BCHLA after June 1 will have their membership applied to the next membership year (so they don't have to pay twice) unless he or she indicates otherwise. There is one vote allotted for each family membership.
The Board would like to accommodate as many voting members as possible; however, we will need time to process new memberships prior to the AGM. As such, we are applying a 72 hour buffer before the meeting, asking that any individual wishing to vote submit and pay for a membership prior to 7 PM on May 31. This will give the Board time to have a current and approved membership database on hand at the meeting.
Members who are currently not in good standing, due to outstanding fee payment for 2010/11, will be allowed to pay at the door by cheque and can vote. If the AGM meeting room has wireless connectivity available, new members may join at the door but will not be able to vote at the meeting.
Elections: BCHLA wants you!
The BCHLA could not and will not exist without parents rolling up their sleeves and pitching in. Although many of the current board members will likely stand for (re-)election, we are an interim board that was mostly appointed, and will all be stepping down from our positions at the AGM. We are working hard to smooth the operations of the society and create infrastructure that allows manageable division of tasks among board members, committees and volunteers.
Directors are elected to the board in general, rather than to specific positions, and the board members then divide up the roles for the duration of the term. If you have a passion for safeguarding Sections 12 to 14 of the School Act and have time and energy to donate in the coming year, please consider nominating yourself to stand for election. Nominations from members in good standing will also be accepted during the AGM, but early notification will permit us to send out information about you to the membership prior to the vote.
We also extend this invitation to people with grown homeschooled children, as these folks may desire that the option to register remains available to their grandchildren.
To submit your name for the board elections, please send us a brief bio, including number of years of home learning and whether or not your children are currently registered or enrolled (or both), by email.
NOTE: If you are concerned about attending board meetings due to travel, the current board has been successfully navigating regular meetings through electronic means (Skype) as per the current Society Act.
Have you joined the BCHLA members-only Yahoo group?
It was set up as a place for members to engage with each other and the board in conversations about BCHLA issues, and every member's voice matters. The Yahoo group is a way to ask your questions, highlight your concerns and discuss how the BCHLA can best meet the needs of homeschoolers. In our last newsletter, we mentioned a survey to find out what members want from the BCHLA; after further consideration we feel that open-ended dialogue using the Yahoo group is a more effective way to find out what you need.
In the near future, the board will also be posting last year's AGM Minutes, and this year's board meeting Minutes, to the Yahoo group for your review prior to the next AGM. The AGM Minutes will also be circulated with the official notice of the AGM closer to the meeting date, but the Yahoo group will provide a place for discussion ahead of time.
If you are a paid member and you have not yet joined, please click here to request a moderator's invitation.
BCHLA at the Homeschool Conventions!
This year, BCHLA will be hosting a booth at both the Christian Home Educator's Convention in Kelowna April 29 & 30, and the BC Homeschool Convention in Surrey June 3 & 4. We look forward to meeting many of you in person, so please stop by and say hello! Bring your questions, or bring a friend to sign up!
Christian Home Educators' Convention & Trade Show - CHEC 2011
April 29 & 30, 2011
15th Annual BC Homeschool Convention and Expo
June 3 & 4, 2011
Guildford Recreation Center
15105 105th Avenue, Surrey, BC
Volunteers are needed!
If you will be in Kelowna April 29 and/or 30 and have time to assist Colleen Erzinger, past-president of the BCHLA, with the BCHLA booth, please let Melanie know ASAP at email@example.com.
We will need help with several tasks for the Surrey convention, such as set-up Thursday evening, hosting the booth Friday and Saturday, and take-down Saturday afternoon/evening. Please contact Melanie if you can help out. Thanks!
Other Upcoming Education Events
Calgary Education Fair: The BCHLA won't be hosting a table at this one, but for folks who might be in the area on May 28, 2011, there is an education fair in Calgary that includes a used curriculum sale.
Looking to explore career options? This site lists 2011/2012 Education and Career Fairs planned for various cities across the province.
BC Support Groups & BCHLA Reps
Keeping our website's Support Group List up to date is an ongoing process, and Melissa Hodges has been doing a great job following up on old contacts as well as searching out new ones. If your group's information needs updating, or you are part of a group not yet listed, please submit a form on the website:
Update Your Support Group Information Here
If your listing has been recently updated, please feel free to check it for accuracy and let us know if we made a mistake.
If you need help starting a group in your area, or for your particular interests, we can help with that, too! Drop us a line.
In order to get our Regional Representatives program up and running, we realized we first needed to get a handle on where the support groups are in the province. Melissa has connected with home learning groups all over the province and has had many enjoyable conversations with many different leaders. She has been amazed to see the changes happening across the province as DL has slowly changed the way support works in our home learning circles.
BCHLA Reps were once an integral part of the BCHLA's mandate. Reps didn't just represent the BCHLA as an organization to their support group. Reps also represented the option to register through Sections 12 and 13 and, in turn, represented the concerns of the members of their home learning communities.
Through networking with each other and the BCHLA Board, reps gained insight into the climate of home learning in BC. They learned that what is happening in one community can affect what happens in others. They worked together to help clarify the law and Ministry of Education policy for home learners across BC. It was important work.
We would like to revive this system. But we need your help.
Together we can build a non-hierarchical network of representatives across BC and work together to ensure that all home learners in BC understand their educational options, know their rights as parents and learners, and feel that they are part of a network of advocacy that is much larger than their own community.
Being a Rep isn't a lot of work. It's about building and maintaining channels of communication between all home learners in BC (both registered and enrolled), keeping an ear to the ground for changes and sharing those with others, and spreading the good news that we in BC have some of the best homeschooling laws and opportunities in North America.
Please join our growing team of BCHLA Reps! Email us today.
High School & Beyond...
Melissa and Rebecca are currently updating the BCHLA website's section on Post-Secondary Education (under "Resources") This will be a long-term project and we hope to highlight a selection from our growing collection in each quarterly newsletter. Our most recent acquisition is an article by Daphne Gray-Grant that was published in the Winter 2003 edition of UBC's Trek Magazine. Both the UBC Alumni Association and Daphne gave us permission to share this article on the BCHLA website.
Learning at Home: Homeschooling, Rhodes Scholarships and the love of learning
By Daphne Gray-Grant
When Rachel Klippenstein was 10 years old she discovered an English book on the family shelves. Enthralled to see it contained text in Old, Middle, and contemporary English, she spent hours deconstructing the passages, meticulously examining and comparing them.
Now a 4th year honours student in linguistics who has been invited to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship, her academic path might seem unsurprising, predictable even, except for one thing. Until she went to UBC, Klippenstein had never attended school. Instead, she learned at home in a largely unstructured, permissive way, where she was free to explore her own interests.
Like many famous homeschoolers (including Albert Einstein, Irving Berlin, Thomas Edison, and Agatha Christie), she has excelled. But likewise she's sometimes considered part of a fringe activity most often associated with the religious right...
To read more of Daphne's wonderful article, please click here.
Rachel's father also told their story and that information can be found in the Home Education News (HEN) archives.
If you have a story you'd like to share about a BC homeschooler choosing a different path to post-secondary, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to read it and pass it along.
Other links of interest:
The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents: University and College information for homeschoolers
7 Ways to Get into University Without a High School Diploma from Sarah Rainsburger's blog (Ontario)
University Admissions - with or without a high school diploma (Sarah Rainsburger)
University without high school October 2009 Maclean's Magazine Article
CBC: Can homeschoolers get into university by Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko
Mixing & Matching: Combining Section 12 and DL Courses
Can registered homeschoolers take DL classes? Yes they can! As long as she is in Grade 10 or higher, and as long as the learner takes a DL course, a learner can be both a registered homeschooler and "enrolled" in one or more DL classes. If the learner takes a class through a Brick and Mortar school, however, she will lose her registered status and become only an "enrolled" student.
The policy used to be that a registered homeschooler was able to take up to three DL courses without losing her registered status, but that is no longer the case. According to Tim Winkelmans, Manager of the Distributed Learning Unit at the BC Ministry of Education, there is now no limit to the number of DL courses a registered homeschooler can take. In addition, a registered homeschooler can also access the free tutoring offered on LearnNowBC without being enrolled in a DL course.
Students in Grades K through 9 must be enrolled full-time in a DL school in order to take any courses, although a registered homeschooler may be able to pay to take a course through a DL or physical school, or they may be able to audit a course with permission. Parents will need to check directly with the school in question.
Want to read more? A brief overview of the policy allowing registered homeschoolers in grade 10 to 12 to take DL courses is available on the Ministry of Education website. Also, see the LearnNowBC website to read how they define the difference between registration and DL enrollment.
Homeschooler? Home Learner? In BC, it's more than a matter of semantics by Rebecca McClure
Once you make the decision for your child to learn at home, outside of a school setting, you may consider yourself a homeschooler. This makes perfect sense as the term "homeschooling" is used worldwide to describe home-based learning. The "school" is not in the neighbourhood--it's in the home! Home-school. It's a matter of location.
In BC, however, our government uses this term in a way that confuses many people: "homeschooling" indicates the presence of a home-school. The word "school", in this instance, means that someone in the home is responsible for the determination and oversight of a child's educational program, not the Ministry of Education through the usual vehicle of a publicly funded school (public or independent). The term is no longer about location as it is about who is ultimately (and legally) in charge of a child's education: the parent or a teacher. It's a matter of responsibility.
To add to the confusion, the term "homeschooling" isn't even in the School Act. The School Act uses the words "home education" in Sections 12 and 13 to describe parent-in-charge home learning. We aren't certain who first decided to co-opt the term "homeschooling" to describe Section 12 in government policy statements, but since 2004, the Ministry of Education has made its position clear.
Homeschooling is an alternative method of teaching where the parent delivers an educational program to children at home. The School Act, (section 12) provides parents with the statutory right to educate their children at home.
Homeschooling is the full responsibility of the parent, is not supervised by a British Columbia certified teacher, is not required to meet provincial standards, and is not inspected by the Ministry of Education.
Distributed Learning (DL) should not be confused with Homeschooling...
To read further, please go to Rebecca's Home Learning BC website.
For more information about the distinction between DL and Registration, please visit the BC Ministry of Education webpage: Distributed Learning vs. Homeschooling
Know the Law
You most likely know that the right to homeschool in BC without government involvement is entrenched in sections 12 to 14 of the School Act, which requires parents to provide their children with "an educational program". But do you know what "an educational program" means?
According to section 1.1 of the School Act,
"educational program" means an organized set of learning activities that, in the opinion of ... the parent, in the case of learning activities provided to a child registered under section 13,... is designed to enable learners to become literate, to develop their individual potential and to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy, democratic and pluralistic society and a prosperous and sustainable economy
This is quite open-ended and can be interpreted as encompassing a wide range of home learning approaches, from using packaged curriculum to unschooling to everything in between. "An organized set of learning activities" does not exclude eclectic or child-centered approaches to home education. A rich and inviting learning environment, thoughtfully created by a parent, provides plenty of opportunities for a child to explore and engage with the world. Going on fieldtrips or being involved in community-based activities or support groups are also things that many parents offer to children in an "organized" way. A mind-map or brainstorming wish list can constitute a "designed" plan for your child's learning.
Your philosophy of how learning works is also important and if you can provide compelling rationales for your approach to learning at home, that's the key.
If your children are registered under section 13, you may choose to maintain some sort of portfolio for them on a year-to-year basis. Taking photos of their projects or videos of their activities, and keeping samples of writing (like love notes to mom!) are all easy ways to document your child's learning while preserving sweet memories.
If you have sent in your membership form but haven't yet paid your $25 membership fee, it's easy to do!
Help the BCHLA continue the work of promoting and protecting the freedoms of home educators in BC.
Section 12 Registration
is welcome to join!
Membership runs from:
September 1 to
Annual dues $25
Follow the membership links on our website to join or renew using our *new* online form.
Pay one of two ways!
Make cheques payable to:
PO Box 88733 RPO Newton
Or pay online via PayPal!
Once we receive your form and payment, we'll email you a membership confirmation.
Moving? Changing your email address?
To update your membership information, please email us
Note: There is one vote per family membership.
We're on Facebook!
"Like" the BCHLA. It's one more way to share about the BCHLA and its role in promoting and maintaining educational choice and freedom in BC.
BCHLA Yahoo Group
The BCHLA now has a members-only Yahoo Group that members can access to have ongoing conversations with the Board and other BCHLA members. It will be each individual's choice to join the group and only members in good standing will be admitted.
You will receive your invitation to join after you've submitted both your membership application and your fees.
Please keep an eye open for your invite so you can be part of the ongoing conversation.
Looking for a province-wide email list inclusive of all home learners?
HS-BC is a list that brings all BC home learning families together, regardless of other affiliations, to network, lend support, and share information. It is run independently of the BCHLA.
Please feel free to join.
Thinking of Registering?
You can register under Sections 12/13 at any public or Francophone school in BC.
You can also register with a participating independent school (Brick and Mortar or DL).
BCHLA keeps a list of independent schools that register homeschoolers. Some will also provide a small reimbursement for educational materials - please check with your registering school for details.