Umbrella Schools

Colorado Umbrella Schools for Unschoolers

Homeschooling in Colorado is an “exception” to our Compulsory School Attendance Law. We have an additional exception: being able to enroll our children in an Umbrella School. You’ll also hear these called “Cover” or “Satellite” schools. The Colorado Legislature officially refers to them as “Non-public, Independent or Parochial Schools.”

Before you choose an umbrella school, familiarize yourself with Colorado’s Legal Requirements for Non-Public Schools. Make sure the school knows the law and is complying with all the requirements. I’ve run across some fly-by-night operations, that have vanished and left parents holding the bag. It’s made me very careful about the schools I list and recommend.

What Exactly Is An “Umbrella School”?
Excerpted from The Colorado Homeschool Law In A Nutshell: It’s a licensed private school, like any other private school. However, umbrella/cover/satellite schools specifically cater to homeschoolers. They’re owned and operated by homeschoolers. Also, an umbrella school has to have at least one location in Colorado, in order to comply with our legal requirements.

The Nutshell also answers:

Why Do We Call Them “Umbrella” Schools? It Sounds Shady.
What is The Bohls’ Decision And Why Is It So Important?
What Are The Benefits of Enrolling?
Do They Require Annual Testing?

There are a few other umbrella schools in Colorado, of course, but they’re structured, require certain types of curricula, sometimes a Statement of Faith and they’re just not particularly unschooler-friendly. I only list unschooling schools that understand our open-source, child-led, rise-out, free schooler lifestyle. Ones that let you custom tailor everything to suit you and yours.

West River Academy.
My personal favorite. WRA has two locations; one in Colorado and one in California. Here are some of their great benefits:
— Minimum oversight.
— Accredited.
— Affordable.
— Over 22 years’ experience.
— Supporting unique kids, co-ops and special needs.
— WRA graduates have been accepted into major universities all across the U.S.
— They have students all over the world.
— Tuition can be paid via PayPal’s “Bill Me Later” six-month, no-interest plan.
— Mention “The Colorado Family Discount” and get $40 off your first year’s tuition.

Spiral Academy
A private K-12 school for independent learners. We allow parents to chose the curricula and methodology that they prefer. Our sole intent is to lend support for academic excellence that is always conducted in the spirit of religious and cultural tolerance. Religious and political beliefs are not part of Spiral Academy’s identity or purpose. Our students have an eclectic mix of beliefs, political affiliation, and cultural diversity.

Alpine Valley School
A private school — not a true umbrella school — based on the Sudbury Valley School, which was founded in 1968. Alpine offers a low student-to-staff ratio and flexible attendance. Located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, students ages 5-18 come from all over the Denver metro area and explore the world freely at their own pace and in their own unique ways. AVS is a private unschooling school, free of grades, grade levels, bells, whistles, tests, and required classes.

Online Virtual Academies Mislead Homeschoolers
If you want to enroll in one of these things, go right ahead. Just don’t call yourself a homeschooler. You’re a public-schooler-at-home.

Colorado’s Homeschool Law Turns Twenty:
The Battle Should Never Be Forgotten
Thanks to The Independence Institute for posting a concise little history of Colorado’s home school legal battles over the years. We need to remember how restrictive homeschooling used to be, and how wonderfully different it is now.