Freedom and Respect

Choices:

At IDEA we believe that you know your child best. We are here to help you with the educational end of things, but you know what makes your child tick better than we ever will! We partner with you as you make the educational decisions that are best for your child. We have working relationships with over 300 companies that supply curricular materials to homeschoolers. We provide as much help and support as you need in making decisions about what materials to order and what teaching methods to use, but the education of each and every child in IDEA is totally individualized. Here are some of the choices available in IDEA:

    • Whether to purchase a curriculum package (with the main academic subjects all covered) or mix-and-match materials from different vendors for different subjects.

    • Whether to order complete courses with answer keys and/or outside grading, or to create your own course using the standards and a variety of materials that you select yourself.

    • Whether to include some outside instruction in an area of interest for your child or not.

    • Whether to use a curriculum based on textbooks, literature ("living books"), hands-on, or a mixture of these.

    • How much to use free, online targeted instruction ("Skills Alaska") to identify and address any "learning gaps" in reading, language arts, and math.

    • Whether to participate in workshops, field trips, and other learning opportunities with other IDEA families.

    Allotment Funds:

    An allotment is money that is set aside for your child's educational needs. The allotment amount is $1700 for grades K-3, $1900 for grades 4-8, and $2100 for grades 9-12. If you are enrolling older children, you may also enroll a child who is age 4 by September 1st of the current school year. We receive no state funding for these younger students, but we recognize that 4-year-olds often are learning along with their older siblings, and therefore provide a nominal allotment of $200 for a preschooler. This money may be spent on a wide range of materials and/or activities as long as they meet your student's educational needs.

    • Textbooks and workbooks

    • School supplies: notebooks, paper, pens and pencils, rulers, whiteboards and markers, etc.

    • Literature, dictionaries, thesauruses, poetry, etc.

    • Social studies materials: globes, maps, timelines, atlases, etc.

    • Math manipulatives: flash cards, base ten blocks, teddy bear counters, protractors and compasses, calculators, etc.

    • Science supples: experiment kits, dissection materials, microscope slides, etc.

    • Guided instruction: swimming instruction, piano instruction, weekly science clubs, etc.

    • Field trips: museums, art galleries, science museums, etc.

    Parent Advisory Council (PAC):

    Some parents volunteer to be part of the local Parent Advisory Council. They serve as "sounding boards" for new ideas, provide input on things that work and things that don't, and plan some local activities and events. The Galena School Board brings a representative for each of the five PACs to Galena each year to learn more about the district and meet with them in person.

Staff and Resource Rooms

Field Reps:

One of the things that makes IDEA unique is the prominent role of Field Reps, women who have experience homeschooling their own children. Field Reps introduce you to the program and help you to learn about homeschooling, if this is new to you. They serve as advisors to the program, providing a homeschooler's view on any policy issues.  In addition to being available for any advice that you might request, they oversee PAC meetings, plan and organize workshops, and put on the Curriculum Fairs.

Certified Teachers:

Students are assigned to a certified teacher who is familiar with homeschooling. ILP's, progress reports and samples of work are turned into them.  They are also on hand to assist as needed with any questions that you might have about IDEA, homeschooling, curriculum, assessment, and more. Most of our teachers have years of experience working with homeschoolers and some have homeschooled their own children.

Resource Rooms:

Each IDEA office has a resource room, where you can find catalogs, sample curriculum to examine, materials to check out (books, videos/DVDs, cassettes, microscopes, and more), and helpful staff. In addition to providing an opportunity to see materials "up close," many are available for check-out.  Used materials can be purchased out of allotment at a reduced price there.

Unit Study Kits:

Each resource room has a collection of tubs with kits of materials related to a unit study on such varied topics as World War II, Telling Time, Curious George, French, Birds, Simple Machines, and Fractions. Depending on the topic, kits include books, videos, models, puzzles, games, and/or manipulatives. These can be checked out for three weeks at a time.

IDEA Offices:

are located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Soldotna, and Wasilla. Click on the "Contact Us" link above to find contact information for each one.

 

Technology

Internet/Email:

We provide an ideafamilies email address for each family. This enables us to add you to our listservs (email lists) and enables you to access the "family" section of our website. That section of the website contains the full vendor list, curricular guidelines, all IDEA forms, electronic handbooks, homeschool links, and more. You may use your allotment to be reimbursed for high-speed internet access.

Computers/Printers:

We provide Windows computers and multi-function flat-bed printers with fax, copier, and scanner capabilities. You have the option of leasing a Windows computer from us with no out-of-pocket expense (through a yearly allotment deduction), it is updated every four years. A $25 allotment deduction is required for the multi-function printer.

Tablets:

IDEA will reimburse out of allotment for a tablet computer for each student. You have your choice of any tablet that costs less than $500. In addition IDEA will also reimburse for accessories that cost up to $100 and extended warranties for your tablet that cost up to $100.

Tech Support:

Technical support is provided to help with any computer problems and questions related to IDEA equipment, forms, email, or internet access.

 

Online Services

Homeschooling Resources:

In an effort to nurture the homeschooling lifestyle, IDEA has developed a section of the website to provide information related to homeschooling in general. Field Reps and parents contribute to a newsletter called "Homeschool Tips and Quips" that is sent to to our families. We provide information on homeschool support groups around the state, and links to helpful information about homeschooling.

Skills Alaska:

IDEA is the only state-wide homeschool support program to provide access to Skills Alaska, an online test-prep and skill development program that identifies specific learning gaps and provides tutorials to address those specific skills.

Subscription Sites:

We have also purchased subscriptions to online programs for our families such as World Book, BrainPop, Let's Go Learn, Enchanted Learning, and United Streaming. IDEA families are given the required passwords to assess the great information, videos, games, and other resources at these sites.

 

Group Learning Opportunities for Parents and Students

Workshops:

During the year, there are workshops on such varied topics as writing, making books with children, how the brain learns best, teaching reading, using your computer, and more.

Enrichment Days:

Another special event that we conduct on a regular basis are Enrichment Days, a day where sessions for your kids revolve around a theme and you have time free to do lesson plans, shop for new materials, clean your house and plan menus, or just relax and read a book!

Curriculum Fair:

In April, one of our biggest events takes place in four cities across the state: the IDEA Curriculum Fair. Vendors come from across the country to share their products in exhibitor halls and to share their knowledge in workshops in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Soldotna, and Juneau. IDEA families attend free.

Academic Competitions:

Students have opportunities to participate in academic contests like Battle of the Books, Academic Decathlon, Geography Bee, and Spelling Bee. Artistic and musical students may choose to get involved in Art in the Capitol, All-State Art, All-State Band/Choir, or Solo & Music Ensemble.

Academic Trips:

Student trips include Close Up in Juneau for high school students and Close Up in Washington DC for both high school and middle school students. These programs teach sudents about the government process in a fun and fascinating learning environment!

Courses in Galena:

High school students have unique educational opportunties for month-long intensives in Galena in aviation, automotive, cosmetology, or culinary arts.

 

High School

Dual Credit:

IDEA may pay for college classes for high school students (correspondence courses as well as attending local colleges), through which they may receive credit for both high school and college concurrently.

Accredited transcript:

IDEA is fully accredited by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools, so credits from IDEA are transferable to any other school.

Graduation ceremony:

Graduation ceremonies take place in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Juneau. IDEA graduations are unlike any other! In recognition of the preeminent place of the homeschooling parent, we present the diploma to the parents, who then award it to their young adult.

 

The Final Word!

We believe strongly that IDEA offers the best homeschool support available in Alaska, for three primary reasons:

  1. Popularity - We were the first in the state to offer a program like this, treating the parents with respect and allowing a great deal of flexibility in materials and teaching methods. IDEA was wildly popular immediately, going from 0 students to over 1150 students in two months! IDEA is still the most popular, although many similar programs have tried to imitate our success.

  2. Experience - IDEA has been in existence since 1997, when distance education programs were "school in a box," with the district providing a cookie-cutter curriculum package for all students of a certain grade, grading the mailed-in papers, and telling the parents how their kids are doing. IDEA was the first to develop a true "homeschool support program" in Alaska, changing the face of "correspondence programs" forever. We were the first to develop the policies, procedures, forms, relationships with vendors, and more. Every aspect of IDEA was developed not around a school district's needs, but built around a homeschooler's needs!

  3. Homeschool input - IDEA is the only program that was created from the ground up with homeschoolers on staff serving as advisors to the administration from practically the very first day of its existence. No other aspect of IDEA says more than the fact that homeschoolers have had an influential voice in every single aspect of the program.Our administrative assistant and the other five Field Reps have a combined total of over 80 years of experience in homeschooling their own children.