When her mom began working full-time, Chesterfield homeschool student Nasiyah Isra-ul started developing personalized home school plans for her younger brother, while she was still 15. Her plans took off – she began developing plans for other families in their homeschool group. Now, three years later and a college sophomore, she’s launching Canary Academy to bring her programs to families across the U.S., thanks to a $10,000 grant from the National Society of High School Scholars.
Isra-Ul is launching Canary Academy in April or May 2021, which will feature customized programs, consultations, tutors, and budgeting help for families with kids K-8th grade. Isra-ul said parents can decide how much help they want.
“What we want to do is leave it up to the parents to make the final decision as to how they want to homeschool,” she said. “Our goal is to help parents homeschool better, but not to take control.”
Isra-Ul is also offering classes, but she’s starting with just two: a first grade science class, and an eighth grade geography course. As an example, she explained the science course: it will feature eight to ten units of science overview featuring projects, experiments, videos, games, and lessons from instructors. She said the course is less reading focused.
“Our first grade science program is mainly project-oriented as the majority of our courses will be.” Isra-Ul said the program also includes workbooks so parents can limit their kids’ screen time.
Isra-Ul is consulting with experts, including educational and product design consultants. Her goal is to make sure all programs are vetted by an advisory panel. She also needs to fill roles on the board of directors, hire staff and volunteers, and build partnerships with other organizations.
For now, Isra-Ul is still testing the programs with a few families, but when she launches she’ll have capacity for limited consultations for 75 families and 50 students in the classes. To enroll or find out more, visit: canaryacademyonline.com
Isra-Ul’s experience with her brother revealed a need for a one-stop-shop for homeschooling help and personalized learning experiences.
“When I started to help [my mom] with homeschooling my younger brother, I realized how difficult it was, especially with the different types of curriculum you have to choose from, planning out the entire week and then the entire month and then the entire school year, calculating grades, handling records, and making sure you align with state requirements for homeschooling as well. And I realized there had to be an easier way to be able to do this.”
Isra-Ul’s brother was constantly bouncing from curriculum to curriculum, and Isra-Ul started developing courses uniquely for his learning needs. “I developed a course for him out of what I saw where his strengths and turned that course into an online program for him.”
Her brother asked her to develop another course for him the following year. So Isra-Ul developed a course compiling resources from the internet and textbooks.
“I was making it more fun. I was doing videos, animation. And it wasn’t so much quiz based as it was project-learning based,” Isra-Ul said. That strategy helped her brother enact with the course content more effectively.
“That’s where he really is. I’m a reader and I love to read books, so for me it wasn’t that big of a deal, but for my brother, he needed something that was more hands-on,” Isra-Ul said.
Other families in the homeschool community saw Isra-Ul’s work and asked her to build programs for them, allowing her to test and develop her programs.
On top of launching Canary Academy, she’s also attending Liberty University, studying early childhood education with a minor in history. She’s part of a Messianic Hebrew congregation, and she said God is leading her to build Canary Academy.
“I believe that the Creator has a plan for every person, and I believe that my calling is to be an educator. And that’s why I’m going into the profession that I’m in,” she said.
“I prayed about it: ‘I don’t know what I’m supposed to be,'” she said. “And I got the answer back: ‘Teach the little children.'”
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