(CMR) The Department of Education Services (DES) has approved approximately one hundred and twenty-three homeschooling applications since the start of the 2021-2022 academic year, with scores of parents also expressing interest in engaging their children in homeschooling.
Veteran homeschool teacher Kathleen Spencer outlined why parents were considering taking the step to homeschool their children.
“Over the past few years, educational companies have begun offering services, including online tutoring, online live courses, and providing additional support for parents who choose to teach their children at home. Similarly, curricula only offered in textbook and teacher guide format are now offered with live instructors online and via zoom meetings, bringing confidence to many parents considering taking the step to homeschool their children,” she explained.
However, Department of Education Services (DES) Customer Service Manager Mrs. Gloria Bell reminds parents that the DES must approve homeschool arrangements.
“Although resources are now readily available, parents interested in homeschooling their children must seek DES' approval before engaging in any homeschool program. That way, we can ensure the programs offered are adequately suited to children's needs,” she said.
To apply for homeschooling, parents/guardians must complete the homeschool application form online at https://schools.edu.ky/Pages/SchoolRegistration.aspx. Parents must also show proof of the child's immigration status and enrolment into a homeschooling program, along with the completed application form.
The DES then reviews the application and issues a Home School certificate to the applicant upon approval. Mrs. Bell also cautioned parents about withdrawing their children from school before receiving DES' approval.
“All school-aged children must be registered in an educational institution as stated in the Education Law, 2016. So, parents who withdraw children from school without proper authorization are in breach of the law,” she said.
DES Customer Service Officers periodically conduct home visits to ensure that persons adhere to the program and that students are making progress.
Ms. Spencer expressed her delight about the DES oversight and involvement in the Homeschooling process.
“Since the Department of Education Services' involvement in the homeschool process, they have invited us to many inter-school tournaments and activities. Our students have also had a chance to participate in competitions that were out of reach only a few years ago,” Ms. Spencer remarked.
She continued, “Some homeschoolers have reached high levels of achievement in these competitions. For example, high school students Nickcoy Stewart and Tayvanna Myles took home medals in four of the events at the 2022 Inter-secondary Athletics competitions.”
Homeschool students have also participated in annual events, including the SeaPerch competition, Inter-school Chess Tournament, Rotary Science Fair, Annual Spelling Bee Competition, The National Children's Festival of the Arts, Interschool Math Tournament, and Mentoring Cayman.
On Friday, June 10, 2022, many of Cayman's homeschool families gathered at the outdoor Amphitheater at Dart Park for the second year to celebrate and applaud students for their hard work during the 2021-2022 academic year.
Over 100 people attended the gathering, including families completing their first year of homeschooling, veterans who had been teaching their children for many years, and other parents interested in learning more about homeschooling.
Customer Service Manager, Mrs. Gloria Bell, and Nicki Samuels, Senior Customer Service Officer were also in attendance representing the Department of Education Services (DES). The event featured a bouncy castle, ice cream truck, gift cards courtesy of Next Chapter, and free products from the Fitness Centre.
To learn more or become a part of the Cayman Islands Homeschool community, visit their website at www.HomeschoolCayman.ky.