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Heritage Academy offers unique take on homeschooling in Kalispell

A rise in homeschooled children has been seen across the U.S. and in Montana
Heritage Academy
Posted at 8:32 AM, May 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-16 10:32:50-04

KALISPELL — A large increase in the number of homeschooled children has been seen across the United States since the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI), the number of homeschooled students has increased by over 9% from last year to this year — an increase of 725 students.

MTN stopped by Heritage Academy in Kalispell to learn about how they are helping support and grow the homeschool community through their unique two-day school model.

“So it sort of combines the best elements of homeschooling and a more stereotypical school where you're going to school every day,” said Heritage Academy student Jack Bell.

Heritage Academy is a unique program where homeschooled kids go to school two days a week and are instructed by teachers, have recess and can work on group projects.

Heritage Academy Homeschooling
Heritage Academy in Kalispell is a unique program where homeschooled kids go to school two days a week and are instructed by teachers, have recess and can work on group projects.

“I really think it's important to have like a community that you're interacting with. And it also gives you a lot of motivation to do your schoolwork if you have peers and teachers who are sort of motivating you to do a good job,” said Bell.

This K-12 Christian Classic School creates lesson plans for parents and students to complete in a homeschool setting, three days a week, taking the pressure off parents to be able to create a homeschool curriculum.

“The COVID pandemic really, I think allowed families to have this opportunity of having their kids around a little bit more, and seeing that it is possible to be part of your students' education. And so there's been a lot of just growth of people wanting a different model,” said Janer Turner, Head of School at Heritage Academy.

Going to school two days a week allows homeschooled students the opportunity to interact with their peers and create friendships like in a traditional school.

“I think Heritage is important because you really have a growing community around you and everyone that is around you wants you to be the best version of yourself and you're — I think you're really set up for success and just, just also just a whole bunch of accountability too about where you're going and how you want to do it,” said Heritage Academy student Sawyer Vancampen.

Kalispell Heritage Academy
The Montana Office of Public Instruction reports the number of homeschooled students has increased by over 9% from last year to this year.

Parents are also involved in the student's education at the school, not just at home, through a parent partnership program. Parents are required to volunteer four hours a week at the school.

“We work with parents' who intentionally want to spend time with their children. Sharing their values, their faith and growing together in their homes as well as in the community,” said Heritage Academy Director of Operations Erin Tintzman.

Heritage Academy has grown immensely in its 14 years, going from 18 students to serving 230 currently. They have added a new building to accommodate more students and still have students on a waitlist.

“The difference I think, between what we're doing at Heritage and what a lot of other schools are doing is that we really are cultivating the soul," Turner told MTN. "We're really teaching towards the whole person. It's really designed to just grow these children and their gifts and their skills and their abilities, to teach them to serve other people to be like valuable members of their community and their family."

You can learn more about Heritage Academy at https://www.heritageacademykalispell.org.