(CMR) Homeschooling in the Cayman Islands has seen exponential growth in recent times following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, the Department of Education Services (DES) has approved one hundred and seventy applications, compared to the one hundred and four approved for the 2019 -2020 academic year.
DES Acting Customer Service Manager, Gloria Bell, outlined some of the reasons why parents are opting to homeschool their children.
“People choose to homeschool their children for a variety of reasons. Homeschool programs can be customized to help students excel further in areas of strength and provide tailored support where students are weak. Scheduling flexibility, fewer distractions, and no time spent on commuting or waiting for other students to finish tasks before moving on make homeschooling efficient,” she commented.
Member of the Home Schoolers Association (HSA), Kathleen Spencer added, “Homeschooling can provide a high-quality educational experience, customized for the individual student. Field trips and group activities during the year bring the Cayman Homeschool community together to support each other in their homeschool journey.”
During the 2020-2021 academic year, homeschoolers participated in field trips to several locations. These included the Airport Fire Station, Airport Control Tower, Pedro St. James, Radio Cayman, National Art Gallery, National Museum, Cayman Turtle Centre, Shark Talk (GHOF), and travel to Little Cayman to visit the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI).
Homeschools have also been quite active in local competitions, with some reaching high levels of achievement, in the SeaPerch Competition, Interschool Chess Tournament, Rotary Club Science Fair, and Interschool Maths Competition. One homeschooler was a 2021 Rubis Top Student Finalist, and another placed first in her category at the Rotary Science Fair. Homeschoolers also participated in the Annual Royal Bank Primary Spelling Bee competition, The National Children’s Festival of the Arts, and the Inter-primary and Inter-secondary Athletics competitions.
DES states that numerous resources exist for homeschoolers in the Cayman Islands. These are available on the website https://homeschoolcayman.ky.
DES Senior School Improvement Officers (SSIOs) recently began to conduct home visits in order to ensure that persons adhere to the program and students are making progress.
“DES Officials were pleased with the overall Implementation of the programs across all the homes that have been visited,” Bell stated. She also noted the high level of organization and time management demonstrated by many homeschoolers who were able to articulate their progress over the course of the year and took ownership of their learning.
Nicki Samuels, DES Senior Customer Service Officer, also commented on the high level of enthusiasm displayed by parents, who played a critical and integral role in monitoring and facilitating learning. She also commended parents for the camaraderie displayed in collaborating their efforts and activities for school trips and overall guidance on the various programs.
On Friday, June 18, 2021, the Home Schoolers Association (HSA) hosted its first award ceremony to celebrate and applaud students for their hard work.
Over one hundred parents and students gathered for the event held at the Dart Park Amphitheater and organized by. Kathleen Spencer and President of the (HSA) Jamie McLaughlin.
Students were presented with certificates and gifts donated by Next Chapter, Strike Zone House of Fun, the Cayman Turtle Centre, ice cream from Cayman Ice Dream’s truck, popcorn from Cayman Corn pops, and finger foods.