Sarah Timleck’s son started Grade One in a brick-and-mortar school, but it wasn’t a good fit.
“I needed to make a change that would benefit my son,” she says.
After researching a variety of options, Timleck chose SIDES, the South Island Distance Education School. Unlike home schooling, SIDES is a public school in the Saanich School District and offers remote learning with fully qualified B.C. teachers.
“With other home schooling options there’s a lot of extra work to build a curriculum from scratch,” Timleck says. As a single parent working full-time, Timleck thought she was too busy to make it work. “It feels almost effortless now. Home learning is so flexible.”
Public school, from home
“All the content online is sorted into easy-to-follow buckets for reading, math and all the other subjects. We get step-by-step instructions for the assignments with all the materials we’ll need and the textbooks we’ll be using. When my son has completed the assignment I scan and upload it and the teacher grades it and provides feedback,” Timleck says.
SIDES provides report cards three times a year, and teachers offer support and coaching to improve the educational experience through all assignments. Kids aren’t alone either — Timleck’s son spends Thursday and Friday mornings face-to-face with classmates at SIDES, and goes on field trips like any other student.
Hands-on, flexible, consistent
School Principal Karen Flello says students enrol with SIDES for all sorts of reasons including medical fragility, maintaining consistency through travel, or just to get more time with family at home.
“We’ve had students who enrolled in kindergarten and continued straight through to Grade 12 in our program, and we’ve had students who travelled with their parents on a temporary work assignment who kept up with the B.C. curriculum while abroad,” she says.
Students are expected to work through the existing program if they are able, but the school can provide adaptations and the support of special education teachers and assistants to accommodate a variety of needs and provide extra feedback.
“Distance education doesn’t mean everything’s on a screen. The elementary program helps Home Facilitators use books, manipulatives and other tools to encourage play-based learning,” Flello says.
“I love knowing what my son is learning day-to-day,” Timleck says. “I’m not just dropping him off at school and crossing my fingers. I know how he’s doing, what his strengths are, and how I can better help him.”
Enrolment opens May 1 each year for September schooling. Learn more about the program by visiting sides.ca. To get in touch about elementary programs call 250-479-7125 or email email@example.com.