Home-based learning resources abundant

Partnerships allow students to learn outside of the traditional classroom

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 

Virtual Learning

IQ Academy: http://iqacademywa.com

Insight of Washington: http://wa.insightschools.net

Vancouver (district) Virtual Learning: http://www.highschoolontheweb.com

Washington Virtual Academies: http://www.k12.com/wava

River HomeLink: http://www.riverhomelink.com

Parent Resources

Clark County Home Educators: http://www.cchomeed.org

Washington Homeschool Organization: http://www.washhomeschool.org

Family Learning Organization: http://www.familylearning.org

Washington Home Educators Network: http://www.wahomeednetwork.homestead.com

Homeschooling information and resources: http://www.homeedmag.com

Clark County schools offer a range of home-school partnerships for students looking to learn outside of the traditional classroom.

Programs in the Vancouver, Evergreen and Battle Ground school districts use various combinations of home-based instruction, online courses and face time with classroom teachers.

Evergreen Public Schools offers iQ Academy, a franchise based in Vancouver that serves all of Washington state. This year, a total of 27 full- and part-time instructors oversee students’ online work and meet with them in weekly live sessions to check on their progress. Students and teachers also take part in an ongoing virtual discussion board.

As of mid-January, iQ Academy had about 453 full- or part-time students enrolled in grades six through 12. About one-third lived in the Evergreen district, and two-thirds live in communities all over the state. Because the program depends on online access, it lends participating students laptop computers if they don’t have one at home.

Vancouver Public Schools offers two choices for families who want to pursue alternative modes of learning.

The Vancouver Virtual Learning Academy, limited to Clark County residents, moved from the Jim Parsley Center to the former Lieser Elementary School campus in September. The academy gained additional space, a gym and a cafeteria by moving to the new campus, now called Lieser Road School.

“Having our own facility has helped us increase our enrollment,” said program specialist, Kathy Ingham.

About 160 full-time students in grades six through 12 were enrolled by December 2012, an increase of 35 students from a year earlier. These students pay weekly visits and work with academic coaches at Lieser Road School while three teachers guide Internet courses the rest of the week.

Program specialist Kathy Ingham also attributes the increase in enrollment to the closure of River HomeLink in Camas. Lieser Road School, located in east Vancouver near Highway 14, is an easy commute for Washougal and Camas families.

Vancouver Home Connection, open to students in grades K-12, had 300 students enrolled as of December 2012. Elementary students study in all-day classes at Lieser Road School on Mondays and Wednesdays; secondary students attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and enrichment classes are offered Fridays. The rest of the time, students in Home Connection study at home under the supervision of teachers in the program.

Parents of students in both programs are encouraged to be actively engaged in their children’s learning.

“The focus for parent-partner programs can differ” from one district to another, said Steve Lindblom, principal of both the Virtual Learning Academy and Vancouver Home Connection. “Our focus is on being in the lead in the core academic programs. Some of our students are traditional home-schoolers, some have come from private schools, some are dissatisfied with their neighborhood schools. Most are just looking to go to school in a different way. They want flexibility and a high level of participation by parents.”

Battle Ground Public Schools provides support for a community that has a strong interest in parent partnerships, a variant of home schooling. Its two offerings, River HomeLink and Battle Ground HomeLink, merged over the 2012 summer after enrollment shrunk, in part due to school district budget cuts. After moving to a single 10-room modular on the Maple Grove School campus, the school has since added eight additional portable classrooms, and enrollment has nearly doubled to 650 students.

“That merge provides twice as many opportunities for families,” said Principal Mark Clements.

HomeLink offers a hybrid program with varying combinations of home schooling, on-site classes with eight board certified teachers and online classes. After the merger, HomeLink expanded its professional development opportunities and online course offerings. Students can choose an online program based on their learning style.

Its programs enable pupils to enroll in state-required courses and electives and supplement that with home instruction. Many of their parents serve as classroom volunteers, and the programs have drawn praise for igniting a creative spark in students. It’s designated as a Washington Innovative School.