Combination Education

This past week I was chatting with an educator in Australia about many things, including the unique school program I’ve been a part of for several years.  When she asked me if I blog about it (as she was interested in learning more about the program) I had to say no.

It got me thinking that maybe it was about time I at least wrote a post.  I’ve had many people ask me about the logistics of our school program and how it looks for the kids, parents and teachers.   So it’s about time I put pen to paper…or rather fingers to the keyboard, about this fantastic school program.

In the Classroom with the Grade Two's

Stony Creek is a Program of choice within the Parkland School Division.  The structure of the program involves 2 days of classroom instruction where students are in the classroom learning Social Studies, Science, Art and Gym.  The other three days a week students learn at home, in essence home school, in the subjects of Math, Language Arts and Health.

But this doesn’t explain what the program really is.  Part of the beauty of the program structure is that once a month every parent involved in the program is in the classroom with the kids for the day (about 40 families presently).  And on the other end, also once a month, the teacher comes to each student’s home so the student can share his home school work with the teacher.  In practice, this lends itself to the formation of a community where I, as a parent, know each of the kids in the classroom quite well.  I also know the teachers on a level that normally I wouldn’t by having them in my home every month.

Typically the same two teachers are teaching the kids from grades 1 to 6 so they get to know each child’s learning style, strengths and areas for growth quite well over the years, as well as getting a picture of their family life.  And it’s even better for the kids who are beyond excited every month to show their teacher not only their school work, but their pets, their hobbies and anything else they can drag out.  My kids always make tea for their teacher and love sharing a cup while they show off their projects.  And they equally love the days I am in the classroom with them.

Home School day for Ben

One of the best features of the program, for me, is the extra time it gives me with my kids.  Not to say that homeschooling is not a pile of work……it is.  The prep alone is time consuming, but the rewards make it so worth it.  My oldest son Ben just entered “regular” school for the first time this year and is now realizing how lucky he was to have 6 years at home and in the Stony Creek Program.

The youngest always learns with his brothers

My son Noah, in Grade Three, continues to enjoy the program.  He can explore topics he enjoys like History and Mythology, while covering core learning objectives.  I can tailor Math to his learning style and work one on one with him until he really understands concepts.  I have a choice as to what type of resources best fit my child for these subjects as long as Alberta Learning Objectives are met.  It really is personalized, child centered learning, at it’s best.  And the mix of one on one learning at home and group learning at school is phenomenal.

In the years I have been involved in Stony Creek I have come to have a deep appreciation for the teaching profession.  Many of my friends and family are teachers and many teachers I have worked with have become friends. I have spent amazing days in the classroom with kids I have come to love over the years, and have equally amazing days at home seeing my kids delve into areas of interest that we would not have had time to explore if they were in a classroom full time.

4 comments on “Combination Education

  1. Thanks for writing this and the mention.

    Typical with things I’m interested in, it generates more questions. 🙂
    I’m amazed by the simplicity of the “set-up” but then the logistics seem mind-boggling. For example, does that mean all kids are home-schooled 3 days a week? Have you reached capacity else teachers can’t do any more home visits?
    Are there any other schools like this?
    Who thought this up? How did they get it off the ground?

    etc. etc. etc.


    • coleksyn says:

      Thanks for the comments and questions Malyn. In answer to your question, all the children in the program have the same schedule with 2 days in the classroom and 3 days at home. When registering in the program parents commit to not only the homeschool portion but also the time in the classroom.

      Yes, there is a capacity issue. There are 2 elementary classrooms each with approximately 26 children. The classrooms are mixed grades. One being Grades 1-3-5 and the other 2-4-6. There has been discussion about the program expanding to additional classrooms but the importance of keeping the integrity of the program intact as well as the small “feel” of the school has also been seen as important. Currently there is a waiting list for the program.

      In the classroom there is a teacher, one teacher’s assistant (EA), and two parents every day. A great adult to child ratio.

      As far as I know there are no other schools such as this one in Canada. It was started about 16 years ago (I may be corrected on that number!) by a group of home school parents looking for an alternative. The school board was approached and a teacher hired. Eventually two more teachers have been added (the third teaches a classroom of grades 6-9) So, it started small and has grown to capacity today.

      As with any organization it has had growing pains and changes along the way. However, it has stood the test of time and new families are always jumping in with enthusiasm.

      Appreciate the conversation!


  2. Diane Castle says:

    Well written Carlene, it makes me want to do it all over again!!!! I miss you guys, how is Benjamine liking full time school? Take care of you and your family, I hope to see you one day soon.


    • coleksyn says:

      Thanks for the comments Diane. Ben is enjoying school full time. It has been a big adjustment though. He went from hardly being tested at all to being tested almost every day. Every black line master is marked on a daily basis. He misses having the time at home and working one on one. Two months into school he asked me if I could still teach him math at home! But loves his teacher and all his new friends.

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