Elementary/Middle FAQ

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Questions and Answers

The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) represent some of the most common enquiries we receive.

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Enrollment and Getting Started

Am I eligible to enroll?

Am I eligible to enroll?
A person is eligible to enroll in distance education courses provided the person:

  1. is five years old by December 31st of the year of registration to enter their first year of school (kindergarten).
  2. is a school-age student residing in British Columbia.
  3. students must be Canadian citizens or landed immigrants.
  4. may be a resident of British Columbia who is traveling or living outside British Columbia for two consecutive years and the student, parent, or legal guardian can show evidence they are "ordinarily resident" in BC. (Note: All students who register with SIDES must demonstrate "ordinarily resident" status by providing a current Driver's License, recent utility bill with name and address on the bill, or ownership/renter documentation indicating the parents' name(s) and home address.)

Which program is right for me?

Which program is right for me?

SIDES teachers work in close consultation with parents and students to ensure that each learner's needs are met. When necessary, our teachers will contact a student's previous school to learn as much as possible before considering the development of customized course materials.

How do I enroll?

How do I enroll?
Parents complete a registration form (available online or at SIDES). Parents of new or returning students must phone for an appointment with a SIDES teacher. During the interview, the teacher will discuss the program options with the parent and the student. Enrolment interviews for students at a distance can be conducted over the telephone. Documentation is needed and can be brought to the interview or faxed to the school. These include:

For K to Grade 9 students only:

  1. a copy of the birth certificate or proof of Canadian citizenship or landed immigrant status for students born outside of Canada.
  2. a copy of the student's last report card.
  3. (Middle School Gr. 8 and 9) an in-school registration signed by the school administrator. (if in a partnership with another school)

What is the cost?

What is the cost?
There is no cost for BC students taking a full program with SIDES. There is, however, a $150 deposit for non-consumable resources, which is refunded when materials are returned in good condition. Family deposit total is $300.
K to 9 students registered in other schools may register for courses (which are billed to the school):

  1. Paper courses, $300
  2. Online courses, $500

Where do I obtain textbooks and materials?

Where do I obtain textbooks and materials?
When you register at SIDES and have met with the teacher to plan your child’s program, you will be notified to pick up your resources at the Beaver Lake Campus or the materials will be mailed.

How long do I have to complete a course?

How long do I have to complete a course?
Full time students are encouraged to complete their planned courses within the academic school year. Extensions beyond one year need to be discussed and approved by the teacher.

Can I use materials other than those provided by SIDES?

Can I use materials other than those provided by SIDES?
We are flexible at SIDES. In consultation with the teacher, parents and students may plan an educational program that will meet the PLOs (prescribed learning outcomes) using secular materials.

Who is a typical SIDES student?

Who is a typical SIDES student?
Students enroll at SIDES for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. a preference by parents to teach their child at home
  2. travelling abroad for an extended period of time
  3. the regular public school system does not fulfill the child's learning or social needs
  4. isolation from access to a school (e.g. lighthouse families)
  5. medical or health needs
  6. preferred learning medium

Computers

Can we borrow a computer from SIDES?

Can we borrow a computer from SIDES?
Yes. If you are a registered full-time student by September 30th, you can borrow a computer for a $150 deposit. At the end of each school year (June 30) students are expected to return the SIDES computer for cleaning, servicing, and upgrading.
A staff member will be phoning all students who have computers to coordinate the return so that we don't have everyone coming back at once! It's very important that parents or guardians check the component list when packing the units, making sure that everything received with the computer is included in the boxes.

Can two or more students in the same family use the same computer?

Can two or more students in the same family use the same computer?
It is not necessary to have one computer per student. Depending on the availability of SIDES computers, larger families, or families with several older students may request an additional computer later in the fall, after enrolment is complete for September.

Assignments

How do I submit my work and how is it returned to me?

How do I submit my work and how is it returned to me?
Student work is mailed in or in some cases it is electronically sent. Individual grades and courses have different requirements. It is best to discuss the requirements with your SIDES teacher, but it's typical for teachers to receive work at least twice a month. Work is returned to you in the same manner.

Support

Will anyone help me if I find the course difficult?

Will anyone help me if I find the course difficult?
Teachers at elementary and middle levels are available and can be contacted by parents or guardians and students. Students may arrange to come into the school by phoning the school or emailing the teacher.

Questions From Parents

Are SIDES programs approved by the Ministry of Education?

Are SIDES programs approved by the Ministry of Education?
Yes; SIDES is a public school. Programs at all grade levels meet the learning outcomes set by the B.C. Ministry of Education, and/or the three western provinces.

How much is a reasonable amount of time for a student to work on his or her school work when he or she is at home?

How much is a reasonable amount of time for a student to work on his or her school work when he or she is at home?
Most BC distributed courses are written with BC's prescribed times for the subject areas. Students may spend approximately the same amount of time as students would in a regular school day.

What if my child needs help?

What if my child needs help?
If the home facilitator has instructed the student and finds the student still requires more assistance, the facilitator should contact the teacher for extra help.

Will my child receive a report card?

Will my child receive a report card?
Yes; SIDES teachers provide a formal report card three times each year. Your child's progress will be evaluated from the standards set by the B.C. Ministry of Education.

Does SIDES provide reimbursement for extracurricular activities such as my child's formal music lessons?

Does SIDES provide reimbursement for extracurricular activities such as my child's formal music lessons?
SIDES offers support for prescribed learning outcomes in Fine Arts, Physical Education, or Technology, depending on the date of enrollment for K to 9 students. Home facilitators should discuss this with their teacher at the time of registration.

My daughter has been having problems with the other kids in her school and she wants to be at SIDES, but she thinks that she will miss her friends too much. What do you suggest we do?

My daughter has been having problems with the other kids in her school and she wants to be at SIDES, but she thinks that she will miss her friends too much. What do you suggest we do?
Socialization is very important to children and most do not want to be isolated from their friends. Parents or guardians can ensure that their children are involved in positive social and recreational activities outside of the home. Students are encouraged to participate in SIDES on-site classrooms, SIDES virtual classrooms and SIDES outings.

My daughter is on a swim team that competes nationally and internationally. If she registers in SIDES Online, does she have to 'log on' at the same time as rest of the class?

My daughter is on a swim team that competes nationally and internationally. If she registers in a SIDES Online course, does she have to 'log on' at the same time as rest of the class?
Often, teachers arrange virtual online sessions for teaching and learning opportunities that augment the curriculum offerings. Discuss with your teacher whether or not special arrangements can be made to accommodate your child.

My son is very good in Mathematics and Science but is behind in Language Arts and Social studies. What can SIDES do to meet his needs?

My son is very good in Mathematics and Science but is behind in Language Arts and Social studies. What can SIDES do to meet his needs?
Unlike the traditional program, it is easy to accommodate students at SIDES. For example, a student may work in Mathematics at the grade 6 level and Language Arts and Social Studies at the grade 4 level. SIDES can accommodate an educational program where students are working at multiple grade levels.

My family has a lifestyle where we travel to other countries for extended periods of time. Can we take our children out of school and leave when we want to take advantage of reduced prices on flights and accommodation?

My family has a lifestyle where we travel to other countries for extended periods of time. Can we take our children out of school and leave when we want to take advantage of reduced prices on flights and accommodation?
SIDES students and their parents can set their own pace for studies. They are required to spend the same number of days attending school as students in the regular program, but that doesn't preclude students from working or traveling. We have had many students who have traveled to different countries during the school term. Parents or guardians need to communicate their plans with their child's teacher or advisor.

My son would like to study band. Can students take these courses through SIDES or can he take these courses at another school?

My son would like to study band. Can students take these courses through SIDES or can he take these courses at another school?
In many instances we can make partnership arrangements with schools in the district to deliver courses that we do not offer in Middle School. Parents or guardians must make the initial inquiry with a neighbourhood school, ensuring there is space and that the schedule is conducive to the student's needs. If the school will entertain a partnership, and this is most often the case, SIDES will finalize the shared arrangement.

How will SIDES accommodate my child if he or she is not yet working at grade level, or if he or she is working beyond the age-appropriate expectations?

How will SIDES accommodate my child if he or she is not yet working at grade level, or if he or she is working beyond the age-appropriate expectations?
It is district policy to register students in their age-appropriate grade. SIDES teachers work with parents and students to create a learning plan that best suits the need of the individual child. This may involve learning materials at a variety of levels, including special software.

Will my child be able to work independently through the SIDES elementary program?

Will my child be able to work independently through the SIDES Elementary and Middle School programs?
No; K-9 students require adult instruction, guidance, support, and praise. An involved home facilitator is vital to the success of students working at home. Our lessons and programs are written with an adult 'facilitator' in mind.

I have no teaching experience. Will I be able to teach my child at home?

I have no teaching experience. Will I be able to teach my child at home?
Yes; SIDES programs are written in a 'home-learning' format. Lessons and activities are clearly written in a design parents/students can follow; previous teaching experience is not required. Your SIDES teacher works with you and is available to offer help and support.

What learning materials are provided by SIDES?

What learning materials are provided by SIDES?
All learning materials are provided. This includes: module lessons and activities, text books, fiction and non-fiction reading materials, CDs, videos, workbooks, tapes, paper for writing and art activities, software and programs to enhance learning.

Will my child be required to write tests, and how will my child be evaluated?

Will my child be required to write tests, and how will my child be evaluated?
At the elementary level, your child will not be required to write formal tests. Your child's progress will be assessed from the samples of work submitted to the child's teacher. Grade 4 and 7 students are provided the opportunity to write the B.C. Ministry of Education Foundation Skills Assessment tests for reading, writing, and math. For French studies testing begins at the Grade 5 level and continues through high school. At the Grade 8 and 9 levels, students are required to write tests.

What is the role of the SIDES teacher?

What is the role of the SIDES teacher?

  1. to ensure regular communication with the student and home facilitator
  2. to provide guidance in selecting appropriate learning materials
  3. to provide feedback and make suggestions for student progress
  4. to assess student progress through formal and informal reporting
  5. to provide opportunities for students to participate in group activities

What is the role of the parent or home facilitator?

What is the role of the parent or home facilitator?

  1. to ensure a learning space is provided and help the student establish a learning schedule and routine
  2. to guide lessons daily and to clarify directions
  3. to encourage and model good work habits
  4. to encourage the writing process, from draft through editing, proofreading, and final good copy
  5. to ensure assignments are submitted for evaluation frequently and on a regular basis

What role will the computer play in my child's learning?

What role will the computer play in my child's learning?
All K-9 SIDES students are encouraged to use our SIDES Online email system and SIDES Online as tools for communicating with their teacher and for accessing other educational material. Electronic programs are usually optional, and they vary according to the child's grade level. All SIDES programs are offered in print format at all grade levels.
Some specialized courses and programs are offered, primarily for grades 4 through 9. For example, Social Studies 6 is offered as an online course, interactive Science units are offered at the grade 4 and 5 levels, and a Virtual Science Fair is offered at all levels.
Many students use the computer as a research tool, as well as a tool for presenting their assignments and showcasing their learning.

Will my child be assigned to a teacher?

Will my child be assigned to a teacher?
Yes; your child will be assigned to a teacher and a class group. Students and parents are encouraged to contact their teacher via telephone or email. Families are also encouraged to visit their teacher at SIDES to discuss learning and to celebrate accomplishments. Teachers like to have a face-to-face conference each term.

What opportunities are provided for my child to connect with other SIDES students?

What opportunities are provided for my child to connect with other SIDES students?
SIDES provides a variety of outings and activities where students can make connections. These include: school swimming and skating sessions; outings to community programs such as provincial park programs, the observatory, and the salmon release; fine arts presentations; classroom activities; and school picnics.
Students also have the opportunity to meet with their teacher and classmates through our virtual classrooms and SIDES on-site classes.

How much time will I need to allow each day to complete the SIDES program?

How much time will I need to allow each day to complete the SIDES program?
Although all children work and learn at different rates, it is best to allow a regular school day of study (about 5 hours) to complete the SIDES programs. The Kindergarten program is a half-day of study.

Can I enroll my child in a partial program?

Can I enroll my child in a partial program?
Yes; there is flexibility in the SIDES programs. These options are best discussed with your SIDES teacher upon registration.

Does SIDES offer French Immersion or French courses at the elementary level?

Does SIDES offer French Immersion or French courses at the elementary level?
No; SIDES does not offer French Immersion, however we do offer a beginners' grade 5/6 French print course. Oral sections are sent via electronic format. An online French program has been developed for 2011.

Will I be able to work with my child through the summer on SIDES programs?

Will I be able to work with my child through the summer on SIDES programs?
Our SIDES K-9 programs keep the regular school year timetable. Although practice may continue over the summer, our elementary teachers are not available during most of July and August.

Does SIDES provide tutoring for elementary students?

Does SIDES provide tutoring for K-9 students?
SIDES does provide tutoring for Grade 8 and 9 students. There is a weekly drop-in session for Math or Science at our Royal Oak Campus. Although SIDES does not provide one-to-one formal tutoring for elementary students, your SIDES elementary teachers are available to support and assist in any way they can.

Will my child have the opportunity to participate in synchronous classes?

Will my child have the opportunity to participate in synchronous classes?
Yes; students meet with their teacher and classmates in a live chat session using specialized software provided by SIDES. These virtual classes are excellent opportunities to connect with others and to feel a sense of belonging to a learning community.

Testing

Where do I write the tests?

Where do I write the tests?
Students enrolled in Grade 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 courses at SIDES and who live in the Greater Victoria area are expected to write their course tests and exams at SIDES. Those who do not live in the Greater Victoria area must write their tests under supervision at a school or institution (ex., school, college, university, or library). Family members, family friends and tutors hired to work directly with the student to be supervised are not eligible to serve as test supervisors..

Must I make an appointment to write a test of any kind?

Must I make an appointment to write a test of any kind?
No, just allow yourself enough time; most tests are two to three hours long. Also, please ensure that you have received all of your marked assignments prior to coming in to write the test.