Nova Scotia

As students return to classrooms, Cape Breton group to launch home-school option

While the back-to-school routine this year is going to look different for all students because of COVID-19, some Cape Breton families are coming together to design their own tailor-made learning environments.

Aim is to provide continuity, socialization with friend group for students

Children participate in B.O.L.D. Centre programming in Baddeck, N.S. (Madison Greening/Bras d'Or Lakes Day Camps)

While the back-to-school routine this year is going to look different for all students because of COVID-19, some Cape Breton families are coming together to design their own tailor-made learning environments.

Madison Greening, board chair and CEO of Bras d'Or Lakes Day Camps (B.O.L.D.), hosted a meeting in late August and now has 48 families from all four Cape Breton counties registered to be part of the co-op, which she hopes to have up and running by mid-September.

"This summer, we saw a lot of concern from parents and the opportunity to discuss collaborative approaches to a return to school this fall," said Greening, who spoke recently with CBC's Information Morning Cape Breton.

Jill Harvey, who has two boys entering Primary and pre-primary this year, said there are many unknowns with the coming school year.

The hope is to have the home-school co-op running by mid-September. (Madison Greening/Bras d'Or Lakes Day Camps)

"What should happen if we go to a blended learning model?" she said. "Or what happens if we have another school closure."

She's hoping the co-op will provide continuity for her children and continued socialization with a friend group.

Greening said many of the parents are "not hardcore home-schoolers, but they are looking for a solution to fit their needs now and they don't see that emerging top down from the public school system."

Madison Greening is board chair and CEO of Bras d'Or Lakes Day Camps. (Madison Greening)

The goal is to be primarily parent-driven, with participation levels varying according to each family's needs.

"Three groups have emerged," said Greening. "Small group classrooms where we are co-operatively schooling our children, so you have working parents who can manage a life balance while affording their children a safe, home-school bubble.

"And then there are parents saying, 'I'm prepared to take this on myself, but I am concerned about the social implication and isolation factors, so I'm looking for peer groups and play groups, and music classes or theatre groups.'

"And then there are some parents who just … need a platform to connect."

For families wanting to form class bubbles, Greening has secured commitments from four community halls in Victoria County where groups of 10 students or fewer can gather through the school week.

Parents will share most of the work of teaching the classes, although there's interest in hiring math and science teachers.

"That has been the biggest concern from the parents' perspective," she said. "Those courses are kind of foundational and a lot of parents don't feel confident in being able to attack that piece themselves."

Greening has applied to Nova Scotia Communities, Culture and Heritage for funding, with the goal being for B.O.L.D. to absorb any other costs.

About the Author

Holly Conners is a reporter and current affairs producer who has been with CBC Cape Breton since 1998. Contact her at holly.conners@cbc.ca.

With files from CBC's Information Morning Cape Breton

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