According to the Cayman Islands Department of Education Services, persons who are legally resident in the Cayman Islands who wish to home school their children may do so with the approval of the Department of Education Services.
Children in the Cayman Islands can be home schooled with prior approval from the Department of Education Services. In 2017, 115 children were enrolled in home schooling programmes in Cayman. Like any educational programme, there is an application process and certain requirement to be met, which are discussed below, along with an overview of the advantages, disadvantages and resources available for home schoolers.
Home Schooling May be a Suitable Option in Cases Where:
> A child is wait listed but has not yet been offered a place in a private school
> A child has learning difficulties that schools may not have the resources to deal with
> The cost of private schooling is prohibitive for low income families and/or those with multiple children
> Families travel frequently and wish to be able to take their children with them
> A child has been the victim of bullying at school
Parents wishing to home school their child/children must obtain prior approval from the Department of Education Services.
To Apply for Home Schooling Approval:
Complete the Home School Registration Form. This can be downloaded from www.des.edu.ky, under the School Registration tab.
Create an Individualized Home School Plan (IHSP). This must include:
1. The child’s name, age and grade level
2. Location and address of the home school
3. A list of the syllabi, curriculum materials, textbooks, or plan of instruction to be used in the core subjects
4. The dates for submission of semi-annual reports
5. Names and qualifications of individuals providing instruction
6. A statement confirming the child will be meeting compulsory educational requirements of Education Law 2010
7. These must be submitted along with a cover letter explaining the reasons for the home schooling request to the Director of the Department of Education Services at 130 Thomas Russell Avenue, PO Box 91, KY1-1103, Grand Cayman.
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.
A home school cannot serve more than five students.
Qualifications for Home Schoolers
Depending on the age of the child, the parent or tutor providing instruction must hold the following qualifications:
Primary – the parent(s) must have at least a high school diploma.
Secondary – the parent/tutor must be a licensed teacher with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
Online programs – accredited programs such as K12 have online teachers.
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.
The DES will conduct at least two site visits, one scheduled, one impromptu each year. More information on the pros and cons of home schooling in Cayman and also useful resources for home schoolers can be found on our website.
Pros & Cons of Home Schooling
The main advantages home schooling parents report is being able to spend more time with their children and having the ability to adapt the teaching to a child’s learning style, ensuring they receive a quality education and plenty of individual attention.
The flexibility home schooling offers is also key: classes can be held in any location, and at the time one chooses, enabling parents to fit schooling around other commitments.
On the other hand, homeschooling is time-consuming for the parent (or tutor) providing instruction, and thus means that one parent usually cannot work, and therefore cannot contribute to the family’s income. It also means the ‘teaching’ parent may get little or no time apart from their children.
Socialisation & Friendship for Home Schooled Children
One of the most frequently asked questions that parents, who home school their children, get asked is whether there is a danger that a child who is home schooled might miss out on socialising with their age group and thus have less 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 CaymanHomeschoolers facebook group was set up specifically so that parents and children could connect with other homeschooling friends. These children go on field trips with other parents and children and time is specifically set aside each week to socialize with the other kids. A homeschooling family can become just as busy with extra curricular activities as any other public/private school family.
Resources for Cayman Homeschoolers
In addition to numerous online resources for both curricula and general advice and recommendations for home schooling, Cayman has its own community resource, Cayman Homeschoolers, established by Tiffany Knowles. There is both a public page and private group on Facebook (CaymanHomeschoolers) where local homeschoolers can make contact, ask questions, share ideas and plan events and field trips.
A growing number of after school programmes, both academic and non-academic, offer options for homeschooled students to participate in.
High Achievement Academy has highly qualified and experienced teachers from the UK and USA if you want your child to have additional tutoring in a specific subject.
Footsteps provides home schooling support in individual, paired or group sessions, either for odd hours, or covering whole subject areas.
Clever Fish works alongside the home schooling community and offers an after school enrichment programme, that includes homework supervision, academic intervention and activities such as robotics, arts and crafts and more. They also offer activity camps in collaboration with Cayman Sea Elements during school holidays.
Others include Art Nest, Young at Art, and Cayman Learning Centre.