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WHY are all umbrella schools Christian?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I've been looking for an umbrella school that still lets us choose our own curriculum, and found two that start at K that look pretty OK and are inexpensive. Both are Christian. They're basically all Christian. I hear there are secular umbrella schools out there, but I sure can't find them. As a non-Christian, I would prefer a non-Christian umbrella school. One that accepts international students, since we're in Europe. 

 

Does anyone know of such a thing? 

post #2 of 16

Clonlara is not Christian, and has international students, and has a good reputation.  It isn't cheap, though.  Good luck!

post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleet76 View Post

Clonlara is not Christian, and has international students, and has a good reputation.  It isn't cheap, though.  Good luck!

 

I've known a lot of people who have gone through Clonlara and they love have loved it either as students or parents. I've met the woman who runs the program and she is amazing and inspirational. I hope we can afford to go that direction when DS is older, they seem to be great at connecting people to resources.
 

 

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stacey B View Post



 

I've known a lot of people who have gone through Clonlara and they love have loved it either as students or parents. I've met the woman who runs the program and she is amazing and inspirational. I hope we can afford to go that direction when DS is older, they seem to be great at connecting people to resources.
 

 



The problem with Clonlara, I think, is that there is too much of what I don't really want (teacher support) and curricula are not part of the program, which makes it rather pricey because you still have to buy them additionally. The advantage is accreditation and presumably getting a lot of paper work and records to show that you have teacher support, which I need for legal reasons (homeschooling is illegal here, children must be enrolled in "school" and the teacher must have a degree related to teaching, but it doesn't say distance schools are not allowed). 

 

There is also the Bridgeway academy with fees very similar to Clonlara's, but they also include curricula in the price, and one can choose from three or four different choices, reputable choices too, like Saxon math. However, it is Christian and you must do Bible stuff, and as far as I see they do not allow you to use different grades for different subjects. My daughter is ahead in math by a grade, but needs more basic English language materials because it is her third language. 

 

Then there are umbrella schools that, like Clonlara, do not offer a curriculum, but which are much, much cheaper. An example is Grace Christian Schools, which costs $170 per year for K through 5, I think. The great thing is that this leaves more money to spend on curricula and other materials. Again, they are faith-based and their accreditation may be dubious. 

 

And then, it's hard to know which schools (if, frankly, any) will accept international students - especially those who are not US citizens. We have a homeschooling group here in Eastern Europe, and many kids are close to school age so we all need a solution fast. Also the minister of education is a socialist, former communist, and may have resistance to students being enrolled in Christian schools.

 

I'd love to hear experience from anyone who uses Clonlara! I want to enroll DD this year, but am not sure where yet. 

post #5 of 16

No suggestions yet, but I'm subbing to keep an eye on this!

post #6 of 16

We used Clonlara for my DD's kindy year, which was, in retrospect, a bit silly, as we lived in the US in one of the least restrictive states with no reporting at all.  They do offer you some curriculum/curriculum suggestion ideas--not like, "Use Saxon Math", but instead, "take time walking with the kids and perhaps count acorns" kind of stuff.  My DH was a little nervous about the accreditation aspect of homeschooling, but since we got that out of his system, we haven't needed to use anything since.  The check-in reporting was extremely minor, and consisted of filing out a form 2x a year, and sending in a few work examples.  Other ways of reporting would also have worked for those who unschooled--it was great for people who wanted to be very unschoolish.  

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleet76 View Post

We used Clonlara for my DD's kindy year, which was, in retrospect, a bit silly, as we lived in the US in one of the least restrictive states with no reporting at all.  They do offer you some curriculum/curriculum suggestion ideas--not like, "Use Saxon Math", but instead, "take time walking with the kids and perhaps count acorns" kind of stuff.  My DH was a little nervous about the accreditation aspect of homeschooling, but since we got that out of his system, we haven't needed to use anything since.  The check-in reporting was extremely minor, and consisted of filing out a form 2x a year, and sending in a few work examples.  Other ways of reporting would also have worked for those who unschooled--it was great for people who wanted to be very unschoolish.  


Can I ask what kind of paperwork they provide? The law here says work must be graded, so I'd be looking for that too, even though it is rather silly. And how often did you speak to Clonlara staff? Is that mandatory? Did it annoy you at all?

 

post #8 of 16

I think it was something like me describing her progress.  But I think they would work with you to give you the documentation you need, from my experience with them.  I think I only spoke to them once or twice a semester, and they were much more coming from the "how can we help you--is everything going well with you guys?" than "you have to do what we say".  Extremely laid-back, but flexible.  They support all styles of homeschooling, so I think they could be a great resource for you.  I bet they'd be happy to talk to you about any questions.

post #9 of 16

Well, I can't answer for "all" umbrella schools, but in some states homeschooling isn't seen as a legitimate option UNLESS it is being done for religious reasons (or at least, through a denominationally affiliated umbrella school).  So those states obviously produce a lot of "religious umbrella schools".  And at least until more recently, many homeschoolers were affiliated with Christian groups and so it would make sense for their umbrella schools to reflect that.  And then as the homeschooling demographic shifted towards the secular or non-christian, many people just kept using those umbrella schools since they were there.  But that's neither here nor there since it doesn't help you find a good umbrella school!

 

Have you checked out the various programs on this page?  And you might want to check out a specifically secular resource like the Secular Homeschool website to see if anyone has a tried and true umbrella school.

 

Clonlara was the first umbrella program I thought of, since I thought they allowed parents to make all the curriculum decisions.  I know a lot of unschooling families who use them so they can't push too hard on that front.  My second thought was Goddess Moon Circles Academy, which is a pagan umbrella school.  While they do offer a curriculum option, I believe they also provide a straight up umbrella school option.  Of course, they're not secular!  LOL  What about WestRiver Academy or Alger Learning Center?  Both offer grades and transcripts and are secular, accredited, progrms.  And they both focus on unschooling families so probably don't have as many curriculum requirements as other programs might.

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

Well, I emailed Clonlara last week and have not received a reply yet. I am a bit disappointed. 

 

If anyone knows of other secular umbrella options, fire away!

 

wombatclay, thanks for the links. West River is, I read, for third grade and up. There is no way Goddess Moon Circles would pass with the ministry of ed here, we might even get into trouble for "being in a sect" orngbiggrin.gif

post #11 of 16
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thefragile7393 View Post

http://www.k12.com/int
maybe?



 

Annual tuition*:

$4,995 (K-5)
$5,995 (6-8)
$6,995 (9-12)

Unfortunately, there is no way I can afford this with two kids. Thanks for the link anyway. 

Besides, I really like the flexibility of being able to use whatever is suitable for the child's level of learning, regardless of grade level. And I am incorporating materials in other languages too, since we are an international family. I think K12 would not offer that amount of flexibility.

Any others? Perhaps Clonlara didn't reply because they're on holiday?

post #13 of 16

 

Hi,

 

I graduated from Clonlara over a decade ago now.  It was, at least from my perspective as a student, a nice balance between providing documentation (including grades, at least for high school) and giving considerable leeway for us to make our own plan of study.  For some things we were very formal (we used a real curriculum for math), while for others we were more experiential (e.g., for American or Michigan history we did a lot of traveling and going to museums and such, which they let us count as study hours).  Grades were the grades my parents gave me, and were recorded on an official transcript which was mailed to colleges when I applied, along with a course list and descriptions, which we were also responsible for generating.  I don't really remember what was done for the lower grades -- here it's only high school transcripts that you need for college applications.  There were other requirements for graduation, including a very long essay test covering a variety of subjects, taken at home, and a service requirement. 

 

With regard to paying for a separate curriculum, you don't really need to do that unless you want to, and even then you can do it in many cases per subject.  For example, for most of the liberal arts courses you don't need a textbook even, you can go to the library and get age-appropriate (or level-appropriate) books for your child to read.  For science and math, you'll probably want textbooks, but you don't need current editions and can get a lot of them on ebay or used on Amazon or equivalent.  Even then, just buying a textbook is usually a lot cheaper than buying a curriculum (they include such things as lesson plans, etc.).  The Clonlara teachers can help you figure out where your child should be academically, although you will of course be hearing more of an American/Michigainian standpoint on this, where we are far less rigorous than many countries.  Since there is nearly complete freedom from Clonlara's perspective (other than their high school graduation requirements), you could also see what the local school is doing for their curriculum and copy it.

 

As far as international students, I dunno -- you'd have to ask them. They might be a little slower answering this time of year.  You could call them, although I realize that's a bit hard internationally.  They were very responsive when I was a student.

 

Best,

Anka


Edited by AnkaJones - 7/31/11 at 5:38am
post #14 of 16

You don't have any charter schools?

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NishaG View Post

You don't have any charter schools?



No.

post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by MittensKittens View Post

I've been looking for an umbrella school that still lets us choose our own curriculum, and found two that start at K that look pretty OK and are inexpensive. Both are Christian. They're basically all Christian. I hear there are secular umbrella schools out there, but I sure can't find them. As a non-Christian, I would prefer a non-Christian umbrella school. One that accepts international students, since we're in Europe. 

 

Does anyone know of such a thing? 

 

 

 

I was going through this thread and was wondering which school did you finally pick for your kids? I live in Croatia, where homeschooling (I am actually going for unschooling) is illegal, so I am searching for a solution. I would have to enroll my kid to a private school (online umbrella school) and would love to hear your experience, since I would prefer one that is non-christian and for international unschoolers.

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