The number of children being home schooled has exploded in the Cayman Islands. Whether parents are choosing this due to practical reasons or philosophical preferences, their concerns are the same: how to provide the best home-based education they can.
Children in the Cayman Islands can be home schooled with prior approval from the Department of Education Services, and like any educational programme, there is an application process and certain requirements to be met, which are discussed below. We also give an overview of the advantages, disadvantages and resources available for home schoolers. In the 2019-2020 school year, approximately 150 children were enrolled in a home schooling programme in Cayman.
Home schooling may be a suitable option in cases where:
The Department of Education Services in the Cayman Islands now expects all applications for home schooling to be made online. See their Registration for Home schooling page where you will find the forms and submit your supporting documentation. If you need to visit Nicki Samuels at the DES then their address is 130 Thomas Russell Avenue, George Town, which is just off the Cayman National Bank roundabout.
You will be required to create an Individualised Home School Plan (IHSP) which must include:
The application period ends on 1st August of each school year. For parents wishing to apply after the start of the school year (end of August), written notice must be provided within 14 days of arrival to the Island. Once a family or child is a resident then the child must be registered with a school.
The Director of the Department of Education Services will inform parents if their application has been approved within 10 days of receipt. If approved, a home schooling certificate is issued, valid until the end of the school year (30th June). This must be renewed prior to expiration each year if the parent wishes to continue home schooling.
A home school cannot serve more than five students.
Applications must be made by August 1st of each school year. For parents wishing to apply after the start of the school year (end August) written notice must be provided within 14 days. The Chief Education Officer will inform parents if their application has been approved within 10 days of receipt. If approved, a home school certificate is issued, valid for one year. This must be renewed prior to expiration each year if the parent wishes to continue home schooling.
Please note that the Department of Education Services will assess individual requests for home schooling on a case by case basis as they know there are some extra-ordinary circumstances. They do not want children to get lost in the system. They understand that for schooling to work for some children it might need to involve the use of special services, such as Speech & Language Therapy, and this can of course be included as part of the 5 hours per day of schooling.
Depending on the age of the child, the parent or tutor providing instruction must hold the following qualifications:
Primary: Parent(s) must have at least a high school diploma.
Secondary: The parent/tutor should have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. This is a recommendation and it is not mandated
The Dept. of Education strongly recommends that an accredited programme for home schooling be used. If you go to the www.homeschool.com website you will find lots of suggestions. Alternatively, look into the UK-based home schooling group Wolsey Hall, Oxford, or you could try K12 or Abeka. Accredited programmes such as K12 have online teachers who can help.
The DES requires that the school day be at least five hours, excluding recess and lunch, and that there be at least 185 days of instruction in the school year.
The curriculum must include the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, sciences and social studies, and must be an accredited programme. Parents/tutors must maintain a record of attendance and submit semi-annual reports on the students’ progress to the Department of Education Services.
The DES will conduct at least two site visits, one scheduled, one impromptu, each year and where necessary will liaise with the Office of Education Standards for assessment and reporting.
One of the most frequently asked questions that parents of home schooled children get asked is whether there is a danger that a child might miss out on socialising with their age group and have fewer friends than a regular school goer. It’s a valid concern, but there is much that can be done to ensure a child does not become isolated.
Enrolling kids in extra-curricular activities, sports lessons, church groups, music and art lessons all ensure they meet and socialise with kids of their age. Where one lives can also be influential: some residential areas are particularly family-friendly, guaranteeing there will be plenty of other kids around to play with.
The ‘Cayman Homeschoolers’ Facebook group was set up specifically so that parents and children could connect with other home schooling friends. These children go on field trips with other parents and children and time is specifically set aside each week to socialise with the other kids. A home schooling family can become just as busy with extra-curricular activities as any other public/private school family.
As well as the Facebook community, there are a growing number of after school programmes, both academic and non-academic, for home schooled students to participate in:
Please Note: Whilst private tutoring centres and other activity providers can be an excellent supplemental resource for home schooled children, the Department of Education has emphasised that the majority of home school instruction must be delivered at home, or at the home of another person approved by the parent. This means that you cannot rely on private tutoring centres to provide the bulk of your child’s learning programme.
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