Emma Hanaka

Home learners take part in public school academy

Soccer academy at Belmont draws home-schooled students

Career aspirations drove Emma Hanaka to choose distance learning after finishing Grade 9 in public school.

“I have eight more years of schooling ahead of me, I want to be an optometrist,” said the 15-year-old.

Her goal is to complete grades 10 through 12 in two years then move on to post secondary, but Hanaka didn’t want to give up  her passion of eight years – soccer. She plays on the Juan de Fuca gold girls U16 team and in the Belmont soccer academy which is open to any student living within the Sooke district.

“It helps to come out every day and be around other kids,” Hanaka said, though she doesn’t miss navigating crowded halls.

Hanaka participates in the academy five days a week for about an hour a day alongside fellow distance learner Breanna Ennis, 16, of Sooke.

“I think it’s valuable for the girls to join the academy. School is a lot about social aspects too. It’s really important for students to socialize on a regular basis,” said academy coach Troy Harris. Both girls are enrolled through distance learning. They call themselves home school students, but are technically called distributed learners.

The teens agree they miss the friendships and social lives traditional school offers, but the rewards of homeschooling are worth it.

“Homeschooling allows me to have a lot more time to do my work,” said Ennis. “I don’t feel rushed … It’s easy to balance my homework and the academy.”

Registration required for home learning

Homeschooled students in B.C. must be registered in a public, independent or distance learning school. This doesn’t mean they need to attend classes at the facility, they just need to register with the district.

In the Sooke School District there are only two students who are  homeschooled.

“They are both seven and live in Sooke,” said superintendent Jim Cambridge.

Many other children study from home but are referred to as distributed learners who are registered or enrolled in a distance learning or other program.

RELATED STORY: The unschool