Caden Nickel

Caden Nickel

SD 27 distance education program growing

Back to school is just around the corner but some students in the Williams Lake area won’t be going back to the traditional setting.

Back to school is just around the corner but some students in the Williams Lake area won’t be going back to the traditional bricks and mortar school setting.

More and more parents these days are opting to home school their children.

While many parents may choose a private home-schooling curriculum, parents who really want to spare the private school expense can opt for the public home schooling or Distance Education option.

School District 27 has offered a home-school program for about 20 years, says Distance Education teacher Ann Pilszek.

In the beginning it was mostly families living in rural and remote settings who took advantage of the option, but these days many city dwellers are also happily choosing to home-school.

Today there are about 65 students in the kindergarten to Grade 10 Distance Education program, which includes an interactive, on-line component for grades 8 to 10 students.

In addition to following Ministry of Education approved curriculum, the program includes support from district teachers and staff, as well as activities that bring schooling at home students together for group learning activities.

The students study natural sciences every second week at the Scout Island Nature Centre, visit Gavin Lake forest education centre periodically and participate in various group arts, cultural and sporting activities.

Next year Abby Shoults and her husband Daniel will have four children in the Distance Education program.

“We home-school because we think it is a better choice for our kids,” Abby says.

“We get to be their mentors and choose who their mentors will be and instill in them the morals and standards we have.”

She says they started home schooling when their oldest child was in Grade 5 and they found she was losing her love for learning because she had to do things a certain way in the classroom setting.

Now home-schooled in  Grade 9, she says her daughter has regained her love for learning because she is learning in a more hands-on way at her own pace.

She says each child has his or her own learning style and they like the fact they can tailor their study programs to their individual children’s needs.

A child can advance faster in one area if they are able and take more time in a study area they find more difficult. She says they also enjoy the opportunities for integrating studies such as writing with social studies or history, or combining math and science studies.

“Every parent’s philosophy is a little different,” Abby says. “We can create a learning environment that best fits our own children.”

She says they started home schooling with another program and then switched to the School District 27 program and enjoy the support that is provided with the program. She says a teacher comes to their home every other week for some one-on-one time with their kids and to assess their progress and to suggest study materials and extra curricular activities.

She also enjoys the fact that the program provides group activities with opportunities for their children to socialize and mentor and be mentored by children of different ages.

“If you can afford to have one parent at home it is the way to go and the district is there to help us,” Abby says. “The school district is willing to get the learning materials we want as long as they can be used by everyone.”

Jennifer Nickel has been home schooling her son Caden, 11, for two years but has home-schooled all six of her children at various times.

Caden goes into Grade 6 this year and says he doesn’t miss regular school at all because he gets to spend more time at home and participate in activities with other home-schooled students.

He especially enjoyed outings with other students at Scout Island every two weeks and has been able to participate in all kinds of recreational activities such as karate, fencing, yoga, pottery, gymnastics, swimming and more.

“I’ve home schooled through a variety of home schools and this one (SD 27) has been amazing,” Nickel says.

Nickel says all six of her children have chosen different routes to education. One attends Maranatha Christian School. Two attend Columneetza Secondary. One is home schooled and she still has two preschoolers at home.

She says her older three sons attended regular elementary school, and enjoyed being home-schooled and doing more things with their parents through their middle school years. Then they were ready to go back into the regular school system to finish high school.

She says Caden works three days intensely on academic studies and has two days a week for hands-on activities and field trips.

Every two weeks a teacher visits them to help with grading and curriculum support.

Pilszek says parents may have the option of having home visits or bringing their students to the Distance Education offices at GROW, relocated last year to the Marie Sharpe Elementary grounds, for the consultations.

This year Pilszek says some of the other group learning activities for the intermediate to junior high age group included scrap-booking, personal planning, CORE hunter safety for students 10 and over, geocaching in the Williams Lake River Valley, a hike at Horsefly, and building bird houses.

While the support teachers for the Distance Education program provide assessments and evaluations of student progress Pilszek says: “The parents are truly the educators and we are the support.”

Gaeil Farrar photo

Betty McLennan (left) helps Abby Shoults and her daughter Bella, 5, check out new resource books.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson speaking in the legislature Monday, May 10. (Video screen shot)
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA calls for rural infrastructure renewal fund

Lorne Doerkson said central parts of rural B.C. devastated by flooding, crumbling infrastructure

(File photo)
Firearms offence at McLeese Lake tree planting camp under RCMP investigation

On May 10 Williams Lake RCMP were called to the camp, located at the 2200 block of Beaver Lake Rd.

Lil Mack has been a member of Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy since its inception. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Lil Mack of Williams Lake honoured with BC Achievement Community Award

Mack has been an ever-present, quietly powerful literacy force in Williams Lake for several decades

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) announced Tuesday, May 11 that all washrooms on its Kamloops and Williams Lake campuses will have free menstrual products by September. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
TRU to provide free hygiene products in all washrooms by fall 2021

“By signing the United Way’s Promise campaign, TRU aims to reduce barriers facing some students.”

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read