FAQ2020-08-13T03:56:54+00:00

ASK & WE ANSWER

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the graduation requirement?2020-08-03T20:27:55+00:00

To graduate from Pacific Sands Academy, students must complete an online portfolio or powerpoint presentation that celebrates their strengths and interests. We want students to be able to use this portfolio for their next step in life- whatever that may be. We also work with students to create a resume as part of their requirement. 

Can my teen graduate early?2020-08-03T20:28:18+00:00

Yes! Teens can graduate when they are ready to take their next steps in life. Some students come to Pacific Sands and graduate within a month, others will stay for 5 years or more…  Our youngest graduate was 14 years old.

Can an adult who never graduated from high school get a diploma2020-08-03T20:28:32+00:00

Yes. We work with adults. If they meet the graduation requirements of Pacific Sands Academy, they can earn a high school diploma.

What does your enrollment fee cover?2020-08-03T20:21:55+00:00

Enrollment in Pacific Sands meets most states compulsory education laws.  Your child’s private information does not go any further than our system. We also offer monthly parent Zoom meetings, weekly Discord teen meetings, and a graduation ceremony at the end of the year. For teens, enrollment in our school allows for dual enrollment at local community colleges and access to work permits.

What does Monthly tuition cover?2020-08-03T20:22:15+00:00

For teens, monthly tuition covers mentoring meetings.  We have found over time that different teens prefer (or need) varying amounts of mentoring meetings, so we have developed a three tiered system. Families can pay tuition for 1 meeting, 2-4 meetings, 5-8 meetings, or even more. 

How long are meetings?2020-08-03T20:23:16+00:00

Meetings tend to run about thirty minutes and there is some flexibility. Some students prefer longer meetings and they “double up.”

How do you meet with students?2020-08-03T20:23:31+00:00

Zoom is our typical way to meet with students. We can also utilize the telephone if that is preferred by your student.

What if my teen needs daily check ins?2020-08-03T20:26:18+00:00

We have a partner program,Vision Quest for Teens that does this work. For $590 per month, your 6th-12th grader can get daily support. A California Credentialed teacher is in a Google classroom from 9:30-5 PM daily and meets with students throughout the day.  We do not, at this time, offer a similar program for our younger students.  You enroll in this program in addition to our school and pay them directly. (In this case you would  pay 0$ per month to us, and pay enrollment, registration, and graduation fees only. ) 

So what do you offer for families with younger children?2020-08-03T20:29:03+00:00

This year because of the Covid situation, we are offering a family program. Families can sign up and receive support from a CA Credentialed teacher with over 20 years of homeschool teaching experience. You will receive ongoing curriculum guidance and homeschooling support in monthly to weekly meetings (up to 4 per month). You will also have weekly fun Zoom meetings for kids, monthly coffee hours for moms, and monthly outdoor field trips in the San Francisco or Monterey Bay areas.

Do You do Credit Recovery?2020-08-03T20:27:14+00:00

Yes. Sometimes students just need a year’s break from regular high school. Students can enroll in the Pacific Sands Program of West River Academy and earn credits that they can then most often take back to their high schools. (We recommend you check with your high school counselor first). Some high schools will allow students to earn credits at a different online school (us) while still attending their high school.  Students can also work over the summer to earn extra credits.

What if i just need a little bit of support to get going on my homeschooling journey?2020-08-03T20:29:34+00:00

You can hire our K-8 specialist directly for a month or two to get yourself situated. She comes highly recommended. Contact Maryam directly at mkshafaghi@gmail.com

What about my middle schooler?2020-08-03T20:29:26+00:00

We tailor our program to each family. If your middle schooler is ready for independent teen meetings, you can use some of your family meetings for independent teen mentoring.

How does my teen earn credits/units towards high school graduation?2020-08-03T20:26:57+00:00

Teens can earn credits for their natural strengths and passions. For example, if they play in a band, they earn instrumental music credits; skate- earn PE credits; build a skate ramp- construction or woodworking credits; follow politics –earn government or current events credits; love taking pictures– photography credits.

We also find ways for students to earn credits for subjects they don’t typically enjoy. For example, we have some math games for Algebra and Geometry, and use YouTube, Historical fiction or scientific feature films and documentaries of interest for social studies and science credits.

In addition, students can earn high school credits for interesting pursuits that you may not find in a typical high school. We have students who have earned credits for courses like Aviation, Crime Investigations, Personal Growth, MakeUp Skills, Gaming Logic and Strategy, Anthropology, and History of Latina Women.

 

Do you offer online classes?2020-08-03T20:22:42+00:00

We do not offer online classes per se, but we do give credits for students who take online courses  through organizations such as Coursera, Future Learn, Khan Academy, Master Courses, Duolingo or even YouTube.  We also have subscriptions to programs that students can access: for example, Thrively (which  personalizes education and content to student interests), Curiosity Stream, and Skillshare. This list will likely grow in the 2020-2021 school year.

What is the difference between Pacific Sands Academy and West River Academy?2020-08-03T20:21:06+00:00

Students of Pacific Sands Academy and the Pacific Sands Program of West River Academy receive weekly to monthly mentoring and support. A CA credentialed teacher of Pacific Sands works closely with each student to help define and follow up on learning goals and self directed projects. Most students of Pacific Sands find this weekly/monthly mentoring very valuable. Students may also be enrolled in Pacific Sands Academy or Pacific Sands program of West River Academy and have other avenues for their homeschool pursuits. If this is the choice, the two programs operate very much the same.

Are you Accredited?2020-08-03T20:20:38+00:00

Pacific Sands Academy itself is not accredited; however, we work with a sister school (West River Academy)which acts as an umbrella for us. Students can pay an extra fee of $225 and benefit from  this accreditation. West River Academy is accredited by the National Association for the Legal Support of Alternative Schools (NALSAS). Students who pay this fee become students of the Pacific Sands Program of West River Academy.

Are you a California PSP?2020-08-03T20:18:14+00:00

Yes. We register with the state of CA every year as a private school. If you register with us, you do not need to file any additional paperwork with your state to homeschool your children.

CDS Code: 44698076147615

Do you work with students in every state in the USA?2020-08-03T20:19:40+00:00

Yes, we work with students in any state, and even internationally. Enrolling with Pacific Sands Academy will meet the requirements of most states compulsory attendance laws.

If we enroll with you do we have to submit any information to our state?2020-08-03T20:18:38+00:00

If you enroll with us, you have met the legal requirements of enrolling your child in a school. (Please check the compulsory education laws of your state). We never give your family’s name or any information to the state. Your information stays with us. You also do not have to file a Private School Affidavit or enroll in a charter.

If we are in a charter school can we enroll with you?2020-08-03T20:34:23+00:00

No. California state law prohibits students from being enrolled in two schools at once.

I don’t understand the teen mentoring plans. How do I pick the appropriate tier for my student? Is there flexibility?2020-08-03T20:28:51+00:00

Generally, most students fit in the 2-4 meeting per month plan; however,  we will discuss the best fit for your teen in our initial meeting. We can be flexible as we move forward through the year. If we find that your teen needs more time, we can discuss moving to the longer time tier. If they need less time, we can move forward to the shorter-time tier. However, you will be responsible for payment of the tier you choose until we have a discussion and change programs the following month. 

Can I enroll in your school and not pay monthly tuition?2020-08-03T20:32:00+00:00

Yes. If you have your own homeschooling program you want to follow (such as Independent Minds Academy), you can use us as your PSP (Private School Program) that you are enrolled in. You will not need to file a PSA. 

Are there any sibling discounts?2020-08-03T20:32:35+00:00

We offer a 10% discount for each additional teen for enrollment in Pacific Sands Academy. West River charges us $40 for each additional sibling (Accreditation fee).

Siblings within a family can share monthly tuition for mentoring meetings. For example, a family could pay $350 for 5-8 meetings to split between siblings. Families who have children in both K-6 and 7-12 programs can use some of their Family support meetings for their teens. 

What Colleges have your graduates gone to?2020-08-03T20:33:27+00:00

Our students have been accepted into several small liberal arts colleges:  Quinnipiac, Cal Lutheran, Hampshire, Wheaton, American University of Paris, University of Connecticut, College of the Canyons, Academy of Art University in San Francisco  to name a few… They also have attended community colleges such as Cuyahoga Community College, Orange Coast College, Central Oregon Community College, Sierra College, and Ventura Community College. Some students have gone on to bigger state schools such as University of Washington and even graduate school! 

Our only caveat is that we do not offer A-G courses which the UC and California state system requires for admittance as a freshman. Students most certainly could go to community college and transfer into the UC system however, and we have had quite a few students choose this route. 

What are some unusual/impressive things your teens have done while enrolled in your program?2020-08-03T20:33:11+00:00

 

  • One student earned an A.A. from her local community college at the same time as earning her high school diploma
  • One 15 year old is working on his pilots license
  • One student likes to do Civil War reenactments
  • More than one student has worked on developing their own video game
  • Several students focus on playing instruments
  • Some students graduate early and earn Legal-18 status in the entertainment industry
  • Some students surf or skate every day
  • Some students are active in their community scout programs—Sea Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts
  • Two students competed in video games and got into the top 100 of the world, one in Fortnite and League of Legends
  • Some students have their own small businesses

 

 

What if as a a parent I want my kid to learn about particular subjects that they aren’t interested in?2020-08-03T20:34:56+00:00

Ultimately to move forward with a family, we need to have the student’s buy-in to the program. We operate very much on a respectful relationship basis with our teens and don’t force learning in any subject that the teen rejects. However some parents come to an agreement with their teens that they will allow and pay for this program if their teen agrees to learn a particular subject, or have a particular number of hours per day to do their “school work”. This has happened occasionally. We enjoy working with parents and teens to come up with a program that is more than satisfactory to all parties involved. 

What if we want to travel as a family?2020-08-03T20:30:13+00:00

Traveling is one of the greatest ways to learn about our world. We absolutely support and love traveling.  As you travel we would still love to meet with you and hear about your wonderful adventures!

During the pandemic, the switchover from traditional school to online learning has not been successful for my student. How can PCS help make the transition from traditional school to online learning more successful for my teen?2020-08-03T20:30:34+00:00

PSA empowers students to take control of their own learning. Instead of a top-down approach where students are assigned readings, videos, and asked questions, PSA students are encouraged to find what interests them about a particular subject and pursue that.  If you are a parent looking for a program to provide your student with a strong traditional education, PSA would not a good fit for your family. However, if the school system was already not a great fit for your student and you would like your student to take more ownership of his or her education, this COVID-19 situation is a great opportunity to try something new. At PSA, students can earn credits for subjects that they would take in high school, but pursue them in more interesting and authentic ways. 

I don’t want to enroll, I just need help setting up my own homeschool program. Do you offer this service?2020-08-03T20:30:50+00:00

We have a colleague that offers this service on evenings and weekends. Contact Maryam at mkshafaghi@gmail.com for details.

Do you require a particular curriculum be followed?2020-08-08T19:11:02+00:00

We do not have a required curriculum. You have absolute power to choose the curriculum that best suits your family, and for families who want it, we help you find a curriculum that best matches your needs. For our teens, we come up with ideas and educational plans that become a unique curriculum for each teen. If you have a particular curriculum you love for any subject, we support you in following that curriculum.

Can our schooling be religious in nature?2020-08-08T19:11:57+00:00

Yes, we believe in freedom of religion. Your curriculum can absolutely follow the religion of your choice, or it can be secular.

Do you have a course of study offered for grades 1-6?2020-08-08T19:13:47+00:00

The adopted course of study starting in grade 1 and continuing through grade 6 includes the following areas of study (from CDE code 51210):
(a) English, including knowledge of, and appreciation for literature and the language, as well as the skills of speaking, reading, listening, spelling, handwriting, and composition.
(b) Mathematics, including concepts, operational skills, and problem solving.
(c) Social sciences, drawing upon the disciplines of anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology, designed to fit the maturity of the pupils. Instruction shall provide a foundation for understanding the history, resources, development, and government of California and the United States of America; the development of the American economic system including the role of the entrepreneur and labor; the relations of persons to their human and natural environment; eastern and western cultures and civilizations; contemporary issues; and the wise use of natural resources.
(d) Science, including the biological and physical aspects, with emphasis on the processes of experimental inquiry and on the place of humans in ecological systems.
(e) Visual and performing arts, including instruction in the subjects of dance, music, theater and visual arts, aimed at the development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.
(f) Health, including instruction in the principles and practices of individual, family, and community health.
(g) Physical education, with emphasis upon the physical activities for the pupils that may be conducive to health and vigor of body and mind, for a total period of time of not less than 200 minutes each 10 schooldays, exclusive of recesses and the lunch period.
At Pacific Sands Academy, families have the right to pursue these courses of study using the curriculum that best meets their family’s needs.

What is your course of study for grades 7-12?2020-08-08T19:15:09+00:00

The adopted course of study for grades 7 to 12, inclusive, shall offer courses in the following areas of study (From CDE code 51220):
(a) English, including knowledge of and appreciation for literature, language, and composition, and the skills of reading, listening, and speaking.
(b) Social sciences, drawing upon the disciplines of anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology, designed to fit the maturity of the pupils. Instruction shall provide a foundation for understanding the history, resources, development, and government of California and the United States of America; instruction in our American legal system, the operation of the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, and the rights and duties of citizens under the criminal and civil law and the State and Federal Constitutions; the development of the American economic system, including the role of the entrepreneur and labor; the relations of persons to their human and natural environment; eastern and western cultures and civilizations; human rights issues, with particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery, and the Holocaust, and contemporary issues.
Instruction in the area of social sciences, may include instruction on World War II and the American role in that war. This instruction will include, but not be limited to, a component drawn from personal testimony, especially in the form of oral or video history, if available, of American soldiers who were involved in World War II and those men and women who contributed to the war effort on the homefront. The oral histories used as part of the instruction regarding World War II shall exemplify the personal sacrifice and courage of the wide range of ordinary citizens who were called upon to participate. The oral histories shall contain the views and comments of their subjects regarding the reasons for American participation in the war and the actions taken to end the war in the Pacific. These oral histories shall also solicit comments from their subjects regarding the aftermath of the war in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Social Studies includes instruction on the Korean War and the Vietnam War in the appropriate grade level consistent with those standards, which includes a component drawn from personal testimony, especially in the form of oral or video history, if available, of American soldiers who were involved in those wars.
Social Studies may include instruction on the Vietnam war including the “Secret War” in Laos and the role of Southeast Asians in that war. This may include, but not be limited to, a component drawn from personal testimony, especially in the form of oral or video history of Southeast Asians who were involved in the Vietnam war and those men and women who contributed to the war effort on the homefront. The oral histories used as a part of the instruction regarding the role of Southeast Asians in the Vietnam war and the “Secret War” in Laos shall exemplify the personal sacrifice and courage of the wide range of ordinary citizens who were called upon to participate and provide intelligence for the United States. The oral histories shall contain the views and comments of their subjects regarding the reasons for their participation in the war. These oral histories shall also solicit comments from their subjects regarding the aftermath of the war and the immigration of Southeast Asians to the United States.

(c) Foreign language or languages, beginning not later than grade 7, designed to develop a facility for understanding, speaking, reading, and writing the particular language.
(d) Physical education, with emphasis given to physical activities that are conducive to health and to vigor of body and mind, as required by Section 51222.
(e) Science, including the physical and biological aspects, with emphasis on basic concepts, theories, and processes of scientific investigation and on the place of humans in ecological systems, and with appropriate applications of the interrelation and interdependence of the sciences.
(f) Mathematics, including instruction designed to develop mathematical understandings, operational skills, and insight into problem-solving procedures.
(g) Visual and performing arts, including dance, music, theater and visual arts, with emphasis upon development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.
(h) Applied arts, including instruction in the areas of consumer and homemaking education, industrial arts, general business education, or general agriculture.
(i) Career technical education designed and conducted for the purpose of preparing youth for gainful employment in the occupations and in the numbers that are appropriate to the personnel needs of the state and the community served and relevant to the career desires and needs of the pupils.
(j) Automobile driver education, designed to develop a knowledge of the provisions of the Vehicle Code and other laws of this state relating to the operation of motor vehicles, a proper acceptance of personal responsibility in traffic, a true appreciation of the causes, seriousness and consequences of traffic accidents, and to develop the knowledge and attitudes necessary for the safe operation of motor vehicles. A course in automobile driver education shall include education in the safe operation of motorcycles.

(k) Family life and health: Instruction will include:
Child growth and development. Parental responsibilities. Household budgeting.Child abuse and neglect issues. Personal hygiene. Maintaining healthy relationships. Teen parenting issues. Self-esteem.
(l) Instruction in physical education for a total period of time of not less than 400 minutes each 10 schooldays.
(m) The adopted course of study for grades 7 to 12, inclusive, shall include algebra as part of the mathematics area of study pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 51220.
Families have the right in Pacific Sands Academy to pursue these courses of study using any curriculum they deem appropriate that meets their family’s needs.

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