Canadian Homeschool Laws: Ontario

I was asked by The Canadian Homeschooler to write a blog post about starting homeschooling in my province.

Here in Ontario we’re pretty lucky to live in a no reporting area. We need to provide a letter of intent to homeschool to our local school board and that’s about it!

If you are pulling your child from public school, you should do this so your child isn’t considered truant. You do not need to send a copy of the letter to your child’s principal, but it is generally considered to be a common courtesy. If you are homeschooling from the start, it’s not completely necessary to do this unless you are “discovered” by the local board, but people often do file the letter of intent just to cover all bases.

In my case, I pulled my daughter Brianna from public school, so send a letter of intent each year. For my younger daughter Olivia, who will never be in the public school system, I will just add her to Brianna’s letter of intent when the time comes (6 years old in Ontario).

Some school boards will try to tell you that you have to inform them of curriculum plans or do testing. This is not true. In Ontario there are no laws for homeschoolers that require you to submit curriculum plans, text book lists or reading lists. There are also no required testings in Ontario. You do not need to have approval to teach what you wish to you child.

You do have the legal option for your children to take the EQAO in grades 3, 6 and 9 and the Literacy test in Gr. 10, but they are not required. If you choose to have your children take these tests simply notify your child’s old school (or in the case of homeschooling from the beginning or due to school closure, a nearby school) the year your child will need to take the test (the earlier the better) and the school is required to provide your child with space to take the test. The results will be returned to the school the test was taken at and the school is then to forward the results to you.

If you’d like, the Ministry of Education has the general Ontario curriculum on their website, Elementary and Secondary and also the French Language Education. You can closely or loosely follow this curriculum. Some parents choose to do this so their children will stay at the same level as their classmates in the case that they would have to be re-integrated into the public system.

Other parents choose other methods of homeschooling that have nothing to do with the Ministry of Education’s planned curriculum. These are all perfectly legal for parents to do. If there was a point in time that you had no choice but to place you child back in public school, the school would simply administer a placement test to verify learning levels.

The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents is the best resource for parents new to homeschooling. It give a breakdown of the laws and provides parents with blank letters of intent that they can fill out and mail to provided school board addresses. The site also provides a list of homeschooling groups by area. You can use the information on their site for free and/or become a member of the OFPT for a small fee.

Some people will make out homeschooling to be difficult. In some ways it is, but at least in Ontario you don’t have the added problems of cutting through miles of red tape from the government.

Links
Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents –  http://ontariohomeschool.org/index.shtml
Compiled by: Sandra Hart
Sandra – mother of 4, homeschooling 2 living at home (almost 3 and 9) and niece (11). Relaxed, eclectic homeschooler. Her blog – www.homeschoolingnewbie.blogspot.com

Comments

Canadian Homeschool Laws: Ontario — 72 Comments

  1. To Whom It May Concern
    We are Canadians from Toronto, ON living in Saudi Arabia and would very much like to have our children homeschooled here with Canadian curriculum. They have been here for about 8 years now and are not satisfied with the educational system here. Son GR 9; Son GR 8, & Daughter GR 4.
    Please advise how we can benefit from your homeschool program and how we can register to start right away.
    We would like to know how the program works, costs and recognition by Canadian Colleges and Universities.
    Thank you and hoping to hear from you soon.

  2. I have a child who was being bulled in school and now is being the buller so I was considering taking her out and teaching her at home. Some other mother’s were saying that if I choose to teach her at home I would lose the childtax and the trillium and gst apparently: I just wanted to know is that true.

    • From What I know and the peopleI have asked you do not lost any money. I haven’t lost anything and neither has anyone else. -Lee

      • I just recently contacted the Government to ask this question because I am thinking very seriously of homeschooling my kids and I was told that NO you don’t lose any benefits because it is none of the governments business (that is what the person I spoke to said). You just have to keep the government informed of any changes in your home ie: moving, divorce/separation, kids going to live with a relative and no longer living in your home.

  3. Can I homeschool my child even though I have no high school diploma ? I don’t have a diploma due to bullies . I want my child to learn in a fun , safe and loving environment.

  4. Hi, i’m from Brazil and I have a six months daughter, but I’m really concerned about hers education, here in Brazil homeschooling it’s prohibited, people went arrested some times because of it, I have a friend there in Canada, and I would like to know if the fact that I want to practice the homeschooling would help me to get a permanent visa, of course I’ll work too, but the most important for me is her education, here in Brazil the schools are terrible and things are getting worse every day…

    • Wanting to homeschool won’t help you get into the country but I don’t believe it would hinder it either. Good luck and if you need any more information about homeschooling in our country feel free to contact us at homeschoolcanada@shaw.ca.

  5. i have been homeschooling my kids for 2 years now.I pulled them out of school because of bullying issues but didn’t tell the school as i did not wan tto be frowned upon and now after 1.5 yrs Canada revenue is reviewing my benefits and asking for teh money back as i dont have school letter and did not register tehm for homeschooling.I thought it was not mandatory and now we r in trouble.

  6. Hi, I have a 2yr old son who I want to homeschool starting at around age 4yrs. How can I find educational materials to help him transition to full-time homeschooling over the next 2 years?

  7. i need a lot more info on home schooling, i want to take mine out of the school system i am having a lot of problems with teachers, my children are begging to not go back, bu ti am being told i have to pass a test first. i am in mississauga, can someone email me more info in regards to this how i start home schooling them, support groups in my area, and if i actually need to pass a test, i have a 13 year old special needs, 12 year old, 9 year old, 5 year old, 4 year old. thanks so much

    • Hi Jennifer. I have a 13 year old special kid too. I will be homeschooling her for high school. I live in Mississauga. Feel free to email me if you wish to chatt.

  8. Hello. I’m considering removing my son from gr 9. He is being bullied constantly and HHS school does nothing about it. But I’m scared. He is already on an iep and taking essential. I don’t know where to start. Please some advice. Ty

  9. The things I’m reading about informing an Ontario school board of intent to homeschool all talk about submitting the letter every year “before September.” Does that mean that my child has to stay enrolled in her public high school school until June is done? Or can I send in my letter of intent and have her be officially withdrawn to homeschool starting now, in January? And if *can* do that, what happens to her currently enrolled courses on her transcript?

  10. I am interested in having my son homeschool. Is there a group of teachers in Toronto that provides homeschooling or do I have to quit my job and do it myself?

    • Usually homeschooling is done by the parents all though I have heard of families hiring private teachers to help with their children’s education.

    • Lots of homeschooling families also have to work. Depending on the age of the child and curriculum used (online, book & paper, etc) they can do a lot of the work themselves. Virtual schools and online curriculum are options if the child is motivated and old enough to be home while you are at work.
      If the child is not old enough to be home alone, homeschooling families sometimes swap with each other to help each other out. the great thing about homeschooling is that it doesn’t have to happen between 8:30am and 3pm. It can be done in the evenings, on holidays and weekends. :)

  11. Pingback: Homeschool Essentials: Understand The Rules | The Canadian Homeschooler - Canada Homeschool Curriculum Resources

  12. Pingback: Canadian Homeschool Laws: Ontario | Homeschool Canada | Life With Lucas

  13. Hey I’m Carrie from ontario Canada and I was wondering can my child be pulled from school at any given moment to be homeschooled? And when I send the intent letter do I have to wait for a response before I pull my kid out of her school? She’s in high school and all her work is online. We go through an online homeschooling system.

  14. Hello Lee, I have a child in grade 9 in Toronto and I am planning to homeschool my child. What I have to tell the high school office when I shall pull my child from school? Furthermore, do You have a list of reliable online schools that offer low price high school classes in Ontario or Canada? I have done a research and the prices are around 450 $cad per course for online courses. Thank You for Your time. – Loreta

  15. Hello, I am very interested in pulling my grade 7 daughter out of school for the remainder of the year and possibly grade 8. Our school has asked us to leave because we had no place to live, so we opted for a house that is considered “out of district” They won’t even let her finish the school year, and have cancelled bussing. Please help!

  16. Hello, I was enrolled as a home schooler for grade ten. I was for that year following curriculum books on my own and for the following years(11 and 12 ) doing Ilc courses. I have a few optional courses left but now Ilc has asked me to show documentation for grade ten to prove my credits.I was wondering if you could tell me how homeschoolers can attain credits for their homeschooling years. Furthermore, I was wondering if credits from schools abroad can be transferred to your ost. I’d really appreciate any information I can get regarding attaining equivalency credits for my grade ten,
    Thanks

  17. I was also hoping if you can give me any information regarding Plar assessment for mature students. Does Plar give equivalency for Canadians who took some courses abroad, thanks

  18. My girls are in Montessori and have never been in Public School. If I decide to homeschool them in September will I need to send a note to the board anyway?

  19. Hi, I have pulled my son out off school due to they way he was being treated at the school from the teachers, and am going to home school him until school starts again in the fall, (hopefully a new school) and was looking for any ideas of where I can come up with work to finish off his Grade 6 year. Any input would be helpful. Thanks

  20. I live in Mississauga and would like to homeschool my daughter for the last few months of grade 5. She is wasting her time at school and I believe I am better able to prepare her for middle school than her current teacher. If I remove her now how easily will I be able to re-register her – or ‘put her back in the system’ – for middle school?

  21. Hi,
    I have a seven years old son and I have been home schooling him since 2011. Now I received mail from Canada revenue and they are asking for his school attendance and I never registered him because I did not know about it. So what should I do?
    Any help will greatly be appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Samina

    • Sorry that it’s so late in response, but I’ve sent you an email.

      In Ontario, it’s only recommended that you inform the board of your intent to homeschool – it’s not required. I’m not sure why Revenue Canada needs to know anything. I hope that you have found some answers!

  22. Hello Lee,

    I live in North Bay, ON and I’m planning on homeschooling my 11 year old son starting in September. I don’t feel the local school board is helping to prepare him for the demands of high school and university. Is there a homeschooling support group in North Bay or someone I could contact to get some direction regarding pulling him from his current school and choices of curriculum? Thank you in advance for your help.

  23. Hi there, I am pulling out my 7th grader for the remainder of the year and possibly grd 8. Can you tell me where I may find virtual courses on-line? Or the best curriculum for Ontario. He may re-enter school in ged 9 so i want to keep him up to date.
    Thank you.

  24. I’m a concerned grandmother. If no one checks on children who are being homeschooled what’s to stop those children who get very limited homeschool eduction falling through the cracks? I’m very concerned about the lack of education my grandchildren receive. They range from age 8 to 14yrs.

    • I can understand your concern, but remember, homeschool does not equal public school. There is a system in place that the government set to make sure that school to school are somewhat synchonious in their learning, but it doesn’t mean that is the only way or the best way for kids to learn. Lots of homeschool kids don’t follow the same ideals or expectations of a government curriculum and succeed in life just fine. That’s one of the beauties of homeschooling – teaching what kids want to learn about – tailoring their education to their passions instead of forcing them to learn something just because it’s on the list. From the outside looking in, I could see how it looks like failing (and there probably are instances where they really aren’t learning much), but most of the time, things are just different than you are looking for. I hope that helps a little.

  25. I have a gifted child in Grade 1. The school is making no accommodations for her and in fact will not even allow her to read at her own level. She is an only child and I would like to homeschool for math and English but leave her in school for the remaining subjects. Do you know if the board allows this?

    • Hi Christine,

      Here’s some information from http://www.ontariohomeschool.org about part-time school enrollment in Ontario. http://ontariohomeschool.org/parttime/ It sounds like it’s on a school by school / case by case situation. If your school won’t work with you on this plan, another option could be to enrich her learning at home in addition to what she’s doing at school? Since you know your child best – you are likely to be able to find a way to keep her challenged enough!

      I hope that helps.

    • The laws for homeschooling in high school are the same for any grade. I believe the law states something to the effect that “a child is excused from school so long as are receiving a satisfactory education at home or elsewhere”. We are starting to homeschool two of our kids in grade 9 in September using an accredited program called ABEKA, but there is lots of material available out there.

  26. I see a lot of comments from people in Mississauga, Ontario. I am also in Mississauga and have just finished our first year of homeschooling five of my children (two in GR.8, one in GR.6, one in GR.1 and one in GR.2. We pulled them out of a Christian school previously. I get a lot of questions about how we can do it – who do we report to, what about testing, etc. People cannot understand that we do not need to “report” to anyone and we are not required to do testing. This just shows you how the public school has indoctrinated parents as well as children. Our children belong to us, not the government/public schools. In this country we can educate our children however we see fit. Since we were not in the public schools, we do not send a letter of intent to our local schools. I will admit however that I am waiting for that knock on the door by someone questioning why our kids are not in school. There are people in our school boards who are also indoctrinated into thinking they own our children.

    • HI Dorothy, I also live in mississauga and cannot find any homeschooling support groups or homeschooling parents. I would like to home school my kids and connecting with other moms and kids will be a big help. Any homeschoolers in Mississauga can please email me..would be greatly appreciated soniyamystical@gmail.com

  27. There is a very good documentary out there called “IndoctriNation – Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America” (there is also a website/blog). I would highly recommend this to any parent with children in a government/public school.

  28. This was a great article.

    I’m part of a new group that just started an online high school.

    We are only doing math; with the goal of being the best at it! Many of the new virtual high schools are attempting to launch with 40 courses over night… We are taking a slow route and trying to do things right…

    It’s a great and affordable option if you’re interested in doing your math online (courses range from $349 to $449)…

    If you have any interest feel free to email me at steve@ontarioonlineacademy.com

    Or see our website: http://www.ontarioonlineacademy.com

  29. It build up my confidence in finding this website, comments and links about the different ways to transition from public school to homeschool. My son has a physical disability and eventhough we tried for many a yearfor him to adapt to the general educational system, I feel their methods enabled him to be more depend, and in someways depress the desire to learn. Now, since late September we have moved, temporarily located in Toronto, submitted a letter of intent and he has started homeschooling. Unfortunately, a Social worker decided to call Family and Children Services to see how he is doing! WHY? In my books she was out of line, and has no premise for this call. The Social Worker based out of Sickkids only had to send me an email or phone call as a polite courtesy. There is no legal monitoring of children who are homeschooling in Ontario , as per documentation.
    It is true there is this brain washed indoctrination that we as parents/ society feed into by compiling with a system; if it worked properly- wholistically, mindful of the individual and enable his or her learning, instead of being a ‘machine’, the ‘blah,blah,blah meetings, just to get the child/student on to the next grade, then I would not be reading the frustration of other parents words as I type out my own comments. I was raised to be polite and compile with the status quo; not to question authority. However, I have realized through out my adult life and raised 5 children the following: the educational system doesnot and will NEVER fit all our childrens’ learning needs. As parents to realize and truly explore the learning journery for your child(ren) is a wonderful gift, and I applaud the eadeavors of the homeschooling-i.e., ‘thinking outside the box’/expertial learning.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m sorry that you had to deal with the hassle of a check. And I 100% agree with you. Every child is completely different – how is a cookie cutter program supposed to fit the needs of each one.

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