So, you decided to homeschool with a homeschool provider. (Or you may already be enrolled with one.)
You may get overwhelmed with all the information you see on the web. And out of excitement, it’s either you come up with a decision and pick the homeschool provider that is the most popular among your mom friends in your homeschool community.
Or, you find yourself unable to choose any… at all.
First things first.
What are the actual things to consider when choosing a homeschool provider?
Which homeschool provider is the right fit for you?
Or if you already have one, how would you know if you are with the right homeschool provider?
It is important that before choosing one, you need to lay down your own checklist first. Let me share our own criteria.
- A homeschool provider that is Dep-Ed accredited
One advantage of having a homeschool provider is that they will handle the processing of the requirements and safe keeping of your child’s school records. This is especially convenient when the time comes you decide or find the need to go back to a traditional brick-and-mortar school.
It is crucial that your child be provided with an LRN (Learner Reference Number) to be listed in the LIS1 (Learner Information System). This identification number is permanent and unique for each student, and ensures your child has a record in DepEd. Your homeschool provider will be the one to secure an LRN for you child.
A homeschool provider that is DepEd-accredited follows its guidelines when it comes to curriculum. The important question would be, will your provider allow the use of open curriculum?
One of the advantages of homeschooling your child is flexibility and individualization. If this purpose is compromised and you are not given the freedom to customize your child’s learning, then that sole purpose is defeated. You would want a homeschool provider that would allow you to use open curriculum and outsource, or at least supplement with other materials, some subject areas you think enrichment is needed for your own child’s unique needs. Your ideal homeschool provider would allow you to do so as you see fit, provided they are aligned with the learning competencies under your child’s grade level. You can find the list of the required competencies per grade level on the DepEd website.
The freedom to choose your own curriculum also gives you the advantage and control of being able to hone your child’s special talent/s, skills and competencies to achieve what they want to be. This flexibility lets you stick to the purpose and focus on the area that will help them become the best of whatever career they want to pursue.
- Assessments & School Requirements
Your homeschool provider should have an academic facilitator or advisor specifically assigned to your family to assist and guide you through your child’s homeschool journey. Some providers have quarterly assessments, while some have bi-annual or annual assessments to monitor your child’s performance. Assessments are also vital to determine a child’s learning gaps if there are any, or simply gauge which areas you must focus working on. You may also be required to submit a portfolio of activities your child did the whole school year.
Personally, I prefer a mid-year assessment as it is the best with our current situation. I want my child assessed in the middle of the school year. That way, we still have time to work on her learning gaps before the school year ends. I am not particular in aiming for my daughter to be academically advanced. Although it would be great, given her medical condition, I prefer to focus on reaching excellence in whatever grade level we are in. But surprisingly, she is doing great and has been assessed as advanced for her age by our academic advisor. (I must be doing something right, I guess?) Since she’s still in kindergarten 2, portfolio review is not that heavy yet.
- Grading System
Assessments will not be complete without a grading system. Does your homeschool provider give you control over your child’s performance? Is it with balanced criteria? Homeschooling requires honest feedback from you being the parent-teacher as you are the one who sees your child’s performance in both the academics and non-academics, as well as his or her attitude towards each task assignment. But an academic advisor will help you in gauging whether your child’s learning competencies is at par with his grade level. At the end of the school year, your child will be assessed. Deliberation will be done if your child will move up to the next level or be retained depending on the results. There will also be discussions and recommendations on the next steps to take.
- Support System
Does your homeschool provider conduct trainings, workshops, seminars, or offer services that will support and guide parents in teaching their homeschool children?
This factor is important especially for first time homeschoolers and a very helpful factor to survive your first year. Even the succeeding years for non-first timers can be overwhelming, and parents may sometimes feel burnout. It is very important that the school has a solid holistic support system so they can go on in their homeschooling journey with ease. Working hand-in-hand with your provider gets you to achieve your ultimate goal in homeschooling your child.
- The Administration
Is your homeschool administration approachable? Do they accept feedback and are open to do arrangements depending on your child’s needs?
As parents of an immuno-compromised child, it is important for me and my husband that the provider leaves us parents with the option to decide whether to let our child join the activities they set or not. The administration should be able to provide us with alternative options until we are given the go signal of our pediatrician-oncologist that our child is free to mingle with other kids again. There are a lot of things to consider for us given that our 6-yo daughter is still undergoing chemotherapy. She is not allowed to undergo stress and pressure that our Doctor even prohibited her in going to school because of these two factors. That is when we decided to go the homeschooling route, knowing about its flexibility and less pressure for our only daughter.
For those with special cases similar to us, it is crucial for the homeschool provider administration to be considerate and open to work things out while the child is in a certain medical situation.
- Outdoor & Social Activities
Does your homeschool provider host activities that allows your child to mingle with other homeschool children?
For some providers without their own traditional school program, there are activities being conducted to gather other homeschool children which gives the opportunity of socialization. Some conduct their own activities through small co-ops, or groups. While some activities are being conducted by the provider itself gathering a bigger group of homeschoolers.
There are homeschool providers that have their actual traditional brick-and-mortar school. They usually allow your own homeschooler to join school activities, competitions and field trips.
There is this one myth: the socialization of a homeschooled child is being deprived as they are confined within the four corners of their home. These activities, which are opportunities, that homeschool providers give their homeschool students totally debunks just that.
- Option for international accreditation
This is not on the top of my list, but it is good to know whether your homeschool provider has international accreditation, or has the option to get one when the time of need arises.
This is especially useful for families who considers, or might consider living abroad in the near future. (We might!)
This also works for those families who travel often that they do not have the privilege to settle down permanently in a country for a long time but wishes to get their child’s education still with DepEd accreditation.
This is also a consideration for Filipino families living abroad but looking to move and live in their home country in the future. An option to choose a curriculum with an international accreditation or an option to switch to it is a great choice.
Does your provider offer sibling discounts? What are the inclusions of the tuition fee? How about the miscellaneous fees? Is the cost reasonable and within your budget? How much is the annual fee? How often do they increase tuition fees?
How about the modes of payment available? Do they accept cash only? Do they have other options such as check payment, bank deposit, online transfer, PayPal? Do they have flexible payment terms? Is it monthly, quarterly or annually?
It is essential to consider your family budget in choosing a homeschool provider for your child/children. You also have to consider convenience when it comes to payment terms they offer. That way, you will be prepared and be able to set aside money for your child’s homeschool education. Keep in mind that a good quality education doesn’t have to break the bank. ????
The homeschool provider that you choose will be your partner in rearing your child in terms of education. It is, therefore, an important decision. Choose wisely.