COVID-19 could cause a massive and sustainable expansion for Homeschooling entrepreneurs in Jamaica. The High Flyer Educational Services (HFES) company may have risen to the challenge.
Around the world, homeschooling is in while schools are closed to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), affecting the education of nearly one billion children. Parents suddenly find themselves working and learning alongside their children, to obviate stunted cognitive development.
While homeschooling is not a new concept for some Jamaicans, many struggled to function when the Government further extended what was initially a temporary suspension of schools. To date, the resumption is set for April 22, 2020.
However, under the unfortunate circumstances, High Flyer Educational Services (HFES) has risen to the challenge, and then some.
Having established HFES (https://high-flyer-educational-services.business.site/) in 2018, founder Jameilla Imani Blythe revealed that there has been an increased interest in homeschooling since the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
“As a Christian, it is important that when God gives you an idea you act on faith. Homeschooling was taboo; it was unpopular in Jamaica. I have had to defend it, but now the world is doing mandatory homeschooling,” Blythe told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.
“People are now seeing it as a viable option. It was a mystery for many but now, having had the opportunity to do it mandatorily, they see that it is possible. We have been getting a lot of calls from people who want to learn about homeschooling and its viability,” she continued.
HFES offers homeschooling (one-on-one, co-op and virtual), in-home tutoring, homework coaching and online tutoring at the early childhood, primary and secondary level, as well as tutoring services for adults who want to acquire their Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination certification, using a flexible schooling method.
As an unemployed teacher in 2011 who was homeschooling her own child, Blythe saw the need for homeschooling to become more organised in Jamaica.
“High Flyer Educational Services was born out of a need. People started asking me to homeschool their children and I started in 2011. After returning from my Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Fellowship in 2018, I decided to become a full-time entrepreneur and focused on building a stable business – and not just maintain a hustle,” she told the Sunday Finance.
Today, High Flyer Educational Services deploys 20 independent tutors in Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
However, with unprecedented quarantined measures implemented by the Government, HFES partnered with technology company SmartTerm to offer a secure platform for virtual classrooms.
SmartTerm is a platform with a unified student information and learning management system software solution for educational institutions, according to its website.
“The decision to use virtual classrooms has enabled us to keep and get new clients who need assistance homeschooling under these stressful circumstances. As a homeschool advocate it is my duty to assist parents who were thrown into a schooling option that was not their choice. I have spent the last few weeks guiding and coaching parents on how to homeschool effectively during this COVID- 19 period,” she said.
Having already had an online aspect to HFES before the outbreak, Blythe praised her tutors and clients for their unwavering support during the adjustments that had to be made to effectively deliver lessons.
“Our team is flexible; nobody is averse to the changes we have had to make. All of our in-home tutors have started virtual homeschooling. God has blessed us with adaptable tutors, as a lot of teachers in the public and private systems are having a difficult time adapting to virtual classes,” Blythe noted.
“Our clients are the best, they work with us. It is all about collaboration and communication. As a former communications instructor, I ensure the lines of communication are open, and we use whatever medium necessary. I still consider 2020 to be the year of plenty, and as the team leader that message must be exhibited in every decision we make during this unprecedented crisis,” she explained
Blythe, who has over 10 years’ experience in teaching, also shared a few tips for parents who have to assume the role of teachers, to ensure that the COVID-19 homeschooling experience does not become overwhelming.
“Create a learning space; set a schedule — it is unrealistic to keep the same schedule at home that they have at school, especially for the younger ones; incorporate fun projects and games — this period can be used as bonding time with your children and you can get to know them better; also hire an online tutor to tackle weak areas or subjects that you are not comfortable with,” she advised.
She added that more people are now seemingly inclined to continue to homeschool their children after the disease recedes.