What is parent-directed education?

Parent-directed education is whatever a parent does to get the best education they can for their child. Perhaps it is home-schooling. Perhaps it is choosing which public-school educator will be their child’s teacher. It’s picking a piano instructor, or a math tutor or online class, or a method or a learning style that best fits their child. It’s taking control, and choosing timing and speed at which education will happen. It’s deciding not to rush education because a child isn’t ready, or perhaps speeding it up because the child is bored.

How is parent-directed education different from home schooling?

The strict, legal definition of homeschooling is the parent educating the child, or the child engaged in self-teaching. In a loose sense, it’s everything you do at home to raise a child, even if your child is in a classroom setting 180 days per year. What you teach at home may or may not support what is learned in the classroom. Parents directing their child’s education may homeschool for part of their child’s education or may engage an outside instructor, such as a neighbor, relative, professional private tutor, or a class at ZLO.

How is this different from the parent partnership programs (PPP), that the public schools offer homeschoolers?

The PPP’s enroll homeschoolers as public school students, and receive funds from the state as though the child were enrolled in in a classroom setting. Homeschoolers who choose to participate yield their homeschooling status while they participate and become enrolled students of the public school associated with their PPP. The PPP then, with some record-keeping and other requirements, agrees to share some of those state funds with the family, which can be spent on curricular materials such as textbooks, or sometimes on outside lessons.

ZLO offers fee-for-service classes at a price that is far more economical than one-to-one tutoring, with people who are knowledgeable in their field and/or have demonstrated experience teaching that subject matter.

Do I need to fill out a Student Learning Plan (SLP)?

NO! SLP’s are NOT required to homeschool in Washington! Other than registering as a homeschooler with your local school district, there is nothing to file. If you’re homeschooling then you design and implement your own plan. We are part of your plan but we don’t need to see your plan, which can be very flexible, as homeschooling should. You hire us as tutors for your kids in certain subject areas as needed, as you would a piano instructor, or as you would if you enrolled your kids in gymnastics or dance. They don’t require and SLP, and neither do we.

Because we get no funding from the state of any kind, we have none to share with families. However, we also have no record-keeping requirements that come with state funding or state-approved school status. There are no student learning plans (SLP’s) to establish or maintain. We do not oversee any part of your homeschooling experience other than what you do here at ZLO. This leaves parents in control of their children’s education, not legislators or officials in Olympia.

We are able to teach from our hearts and tie our Christian convictions into classes your child takes here, whereas public funds may not be used for religious education or materials. No, you may NOT use PPP funds to pay for a ZLO class for that reason. We teach from a Christian, Biblically-based viewpoint.

Do I have to take a standardized test to participate?

As a homeschool family, you will need to comply with the state requirements for homeschoolers and take one of several approved standardized tests or be evaluated by an educator. Whatcom County homeschoolers have been offered group testing using the ITBS every spring. We can help you contact with the person who administrates that. Some of our instructors can perform evaluations, and the Whatcom Homeschool Association also maintains a list of educators who will do homeschool evaluations.

ZLO does not require any testing to participate in our program.  To protect the good reputation that homeschooling has in our state and the freedoms that homeschoolers have as a result of that reputation, we ASK that you abide by the homeschool law of our state.

What does ZLO do?

Most families can educate at home for some of their work. But when the subject matter gets beyond a parent’s expertise, we are here to help. We have about a dozen instructors and sometimes more than 30 different course offerings, so you can use us to fill the gaps in your home schooling. We only offer classes at most twice weekly, and students can take from 1 to 4 classes, so you can continue to home school the subjects you know best. What we do here supports parents in directing their child’s education. If you like what you see here but need it tweaked for your particular student, then please ask. When we don’t have government requirements on what we do, we have a great deal more flexibility.

Browse our website and learn about us, our history, our instructors, our classes. We are always growing, changing, and rethinking what we do, so that we can contribute to building stronger families while offering educational excellence.

Where do you meet?

We are currently located in Whatcom County, meeting twice weekly at Laurel Community Baptist Church, on Laurel next door to Meridian High School, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please DO NOT CONTACT the church about ZLO. They do NOT handle our business. See how to contact ZLO from our Contact Us page.

How did this get started?

In the fall of 1994 three homeschooling families approached Molly Crocker to help with math course work for their middle and high school age children. When classes began, there were a dozen students in three levels of mathematics. In January of 1995, we found an English teacher to teach literature and writing. The following fall we added high school science. In September, 1996, we began with 31 students in five subject areas, and finished the school year with more than 40 students in eight subject areas. For 2007-2008 school year, we had about 135 students, 14 instructors, and more than 40 course offerings. Since then the number of homeschool support options has exploded, and our clientele has narrowed.  For several years we have served between 50 and 60 students.

What is your educational philosophy?

The purpose of education is to prepare people for whatever God may ask them to do. We place students by their ability levels, not age. We teach the best way we know how, and each instructor selects their own instructional materials and methods.

Parents are welcome in our classes and encouraged to attend! If they are attending a course their child is enrolled in, they attend for free, other than any necessary materials charge.

What is the reference to Zacchaeus?

Zacchaeus (one pronunciation is Zah-KEE-us, the story begins at Luke 19:1) was a Jew living in the city of Jericho. He collected taxes from fellow Jews for the Roman government at the time of Christ. Not only was he an IRS agent for the foreign occupying government, but he was a scoundrel and a cheat, too. He charged taxes that people didn’t owe, and used them to feather his own nest. One day he heard that Jesus was coming to town. Being short of stature and wanting to get a better view of this intriguing prophet, he climbed a tree along the road. Jesus walked right up to Zacchaeus in the tree, called him by name, and invited himself to dinner at Zacchaeus’ home. By the time they were through eating, Zacchaeus had not only promised to give half of what he owned to the poor, but also pledged to pay back four times what he owed people for the money he’d cheated from them. This image appealed to us: of being willing to try something you wouldn’t otherwise do, and have it change your life!

Who are the instructors?

Most of our instructors are veteran teachers from a variety of educational backgrounds. They are screened for their Christian commitment and their ability to organize and teach a lesson. We are committed to teaching from a Christian, Biblically based point of view. Beyond that, individual philosophy varies from instructor to instructor. In fact, we encourage differences, so that parents can choose an instructor that fits their educational philosophy. Instructors are encouraged to teach the best way they know how. They are never forced to follow an educational fad or trend. Parents are their supervisors, and they hire and fire instructors by choosing (or not) to sign up for a class.

What kind of students do you have?

We have about the same kind of students as any other school does, from remedial to gifted. They are placed where their ability level lets them perform. Homework can be tailored to suit a special needs child. Our instructors often spend extra time with students as necessary, and encourage phone consultations for help.

We also serve students with a variety of educational goals. Some are planning to return to or move into a standard classroom setting in the future, while others are coming to us because they don’t want an all day, every day education. Some are tech-school or college bound, some want to work after finishing a GED.

Our students also represent a cross section of the general population in their devotion to Jesus Christ. In addition to many committed, Christian families, we have some families that don’t go to church anywhere, and some that belong to faiths other than Christianity. While we certainly encourage the personal knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, it is not a pre-requisite for taking coursework at ZLO. We welcome everyone, but all must understand that we teach from a Christian, Biblically based point of view. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 7:1).

Is this a school? Can students get credit for work done at ZLO?

We are NOT a state-approved school. We sought such approval in 1995, but were flatly turned down because the state definition of a school requires meeting 180 days per year or scheduling 1000 hours of instructional activities. We only meet 72 days per year, and cannot nearly meet the 1000 hours requirement. Rather, we are more of a free-market alternative education service. We could offer many classes, but we only teach those for which there is interest. Local high schools have decided they will accept just a few homeschool credits toward high school graduation, no matter where they are from.  However, we have known for some time that a high school diploma from a state-approved school is not necessary to gain college admission.  Instead, what is needed is a transcript.  With proper record keeping, credits that high school students need may be granted by a state-approved school. We can help!  Click here to find our page on planning for high school and beyond.

How much does this cost?

Each twice-weekly class is $950 per year. Each once-weekly class is $475 per year.  These fees are broken up into a down payment and then a monthly charge for months September through June.

How can you teach a whole-year course in two days per week?

Any public or private school instructor would agree that you can do things in small classes of 4 to 15 students (all but a few of our classes are less than 10 students) that you can’t do with 20 – 30 students, regardless of the kind of students you have. Our classes meet for 75 minutes at a time, which actually totals to a little more than half of the time a 5-times-weekly class meets in an institutional setting. This means that more instruction and practice can occur as well as discussion that truly involves every single person. There are fewer administrative tasks, such as role-taking. Students are never called to the office, nor is instruction interrupted with a pep rally, school photographs, or a school assembly. It works! Students we have sent on to regular classrooms have done well there.