Welcome to Homeschooling in Alberta!
If you want to home educate in Alberta, here is some basic information to know. You got this! You have been home educating your child since birth and there is no need to stop now that they have 6 candles on their birth cake. You know your child best. You know their personality, dislikes, likes, interests, temperament and learning style. You are your child’s best and first teacher!
In Alberta, children who are between the ages of six and sixteen years of age on September 1 must attend school. Choosing to home educate is one of the programs as a “school choice”.
In order to be legal and to receive funding (yes in Alberta you can get reimbursed for home education resources you purchase) you need to be registered with a “Willing Non-Resident” School Board by September 30 of the year you are planning to home educate. That is the count date of where your child is being supervised or taught.
What is a Willing Non-Resident School Board or sometimes called an associate board?
A school board that is willing (not all school boards facilitate home education so you need to find one that does, the term that is used for that is “willing”) and non-resident mean it doesn’t need to be in your “school district”, in fact you can register with any board you want to in Alberta. For example, if I live in Calgary, I could register with a Willing Non-Resident School Board that is out of Edmonton. The newer term for these boards is associate board. Each year you can choose any associate board you want.
In Alberta you also need to know these terms; home education, shared responsibility and distance education. The education program is defined not by where the education takes place, but by who controls it – either the school or the parent.
Home Education or sometimes referred to as “traditional” home education is where the parent is fully responsible for procurement of the education of their child. That means they are required to use the 22 Home Education Learning Outcomes to determine and deliver their child’s education plan. The board can provide support but the parent plans, chooses resources, teaches and assesses the entire home education program for their child. The home education program is under the Home Education Regulations for grades 1-12. The parent is in full control of the entire program. The parent can choose to follow the 1400 outcomes per grade of the Alberta Programs of Study or the 22 Home Education Outcomes.
Distance Education is school in the home. It is not home education because the school controls all aspects of the education delivery, instead of the parent. The school plans, chooses resources, teaches and provides assessment and must deliver the 1400 outcomes per grade of the Alberta Programs of Study. Delivery is via a school’s Learning Management System such as Moodle, Powerschool, D2L or similar system. The parent has no control. The parent is a support to the child in the exact same manner as if the child attends a physical school. Because this is a regular school program, it must be taught by Alberta certified teachers and must follow the Alberta Programs of study. Distance education is governed under The Education Act, not the Home Education regulations because it is school, not home education. Other terms for this school-controlled delivery are “teacher-directed”, “online”, “print-based”, “correspondence”, “BlendED (a combo of online and classroom)” etc.
Shared Responsibility describes a division of responsibilities. You can outsource certain subjects or courses to the school to teach and take on several subjects or courses as parent taught. In grades 1-9 the school must teach a minimum of 50% and 20% in high school. For example, you may choose health, science, social studies, and art and music to be under home education and you would take responsibility for that. Then you choose to outsource math and English to the school to teach. You would receive half the home education funding (about $411) because the school would receive half the full public funding (about $3340) to deliver their half.
There is no such term as Fully aligned in Alberta Education.
For more information on the three programs, please go here;
To get a better idea of what the Home Education Learning Outcomes and what the Alberta Programs of Study are here is a sample of each:
The Home Education Learning Outcomes is a list (from A-T) that home educators must accomplish over the 12 years (or so) of education of their child. These outcomes are checked off yearly and must be done by age 20.
If your child is registered in distance education, the teacher would deliver the same APS outcomes as children get in physical schools. The Alberta Programs of Study has the same general outcomes as home education, but each subject is broken down to more specific outcomes (about 1400 per grade) and teachers are given even more details about what students need to achieve for that particular subject. Here is a link so you can see what that looks like. http://education.alberta.ca/media/654825/elemsci.pdf these are the Alberta Program of Studies for Elementary Science topics.
When you notify (you do not have to apply which insinuates asking for permission) with your chosen board you will sign the official Notification form that you are going to home educate. You will indicate what subjects you are choosing to take on under the home education program (Home Education Learning Outcomes) and which subjects will be outsourced to a school, if you are planning a shared responsibility program. Any subjects outsourced to the school will be indicated on an additional school registration form.
You need to submit a Learning plan documenting a)which resources you will use to cover each subject and items you would like reimbursement for, b)method of delivery (including unschooling/self-directed as a method,) and c)type of assessment, which could be photographs, observation, discussion, etc. You do not have to assess everything by exams or quizzes! It is your call!
Then you are responsible to have a minimum of 2 visits with your facilitator (usually these happen at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year). On the school provided portion of shared responsibility, there is no visits other than parent-teacher conferences and report cards issued several times a year.
Who is your facilitator? Your facilitator is a certified teacher who is employed with the board you are registered with. Sometimes she is a home educator herself that happens to be a certified teacher. On your first visit of the year it is customary to put together an “Learning plan” for your child. You can write one up yourself or your facilitator can help you do it. This is a “living” document and you are free to change it anytime along the way as many times as you like. This is simply, a “this is what we plan to do” document. At the end of the year meeting you share what you and the children actually did. Sometimes the facilitator will either take their own notes and/or take samples of your child(ren)s work for their files. Please note this is NOT to be a judgment on their part or is it a test that you fail or pass – they are simply recording what learning took place that year in order to meet the reporting requirements of the government.
Some frequently asked questions …and answers.
How much funding do I get and what can I spend my funding on and how do I get reimbursed? The amount of funding you get is determined by how much funding the government gives for public school students. Home education is allocated ¼ of the funding of a basic public school student. Currently, in 2019 that is $1670 or ¼ of the $6680 that a public funded student receives. The willing supervising school authority gets the $1670 and must share half ($835) with the parent to offset the costs of providing home education. It is per child per year.
There is no funding on the school provided programs of distance education and their portion of the shared responsibility program.
On home education, the allowable items for reimbursement must be listed on the learning plan and follow the guidelines in the Home Education Reimbursement Standards set forth by the Alberta government.
Do I have use certain curriculum? If you are home education, you can use any resources, curriculum or no-curriculum that you feel will met your goals/objectives. Schools use curriculum because it is the most efficient way to deliver to a class of 30 learners. However, with 1 or 2 or more children, you can go on more field trips, use movies, zoo, science centre to do a lot of your instruction for you. You have flexibility to teach your child in their learning style. Most children ages 6 to 13 learn best by doing, not by workbooks. By the time their abstract thinking skills arrive by puberty and their executive function skills are taking a big leap, they are more likely to learn by textbooks.
By its very nature, distance education will be delivered by the school via workbooks, textbooks and online written assignments.
What if I want to pull my kids out of the public system during the year (i.e. after the September 30 deadline)? You absolutely can do pull your kids out, but you won’t receive any funding because the school you are currently registered with has received that funding and it’s not transferable. Your school “owns” your child for that year until June 30th. However, you can take on the responsibility of home education by filing a home education notification form and a learning plan. Then, you will not be hounded by attendance calls and you will not be required to send in work to the school nor have your child take their exams. You are still with the school authority but are changing programs. You are taking on the responsibility for procuring your child’s education and the school is now just in a supportive role for the rest of the year. You can request to keep the resources the school has been using to continue teaching if you choose. The next year, you can change supervising school authorities.
I’ve done all the legal stuff now what do I really need to do to do this thing called home schooling?
FIND a local support group (this is not usually a part of your school board but can be….). The school board should provide a good listing of local support groups for you. I can’t stress this enough – although this has nothing to do with the “legal” part of homeschooling it will mean the difference between a successful homeschooling journey versus one where you struggle on your own. Check out facebook or do a search on the internet that is location specific.
Alberta Homeschooling Association is all inclusive, all types of homeschooling, and non-faith based.
Alberta Home Education Association is faith-based and home education only. Not shared or distance education.
The Alberta Home Education Regulations
Compiled by: Lori Desrosiers
Lori Desrosiers has been home educating in Alberta for 11 years. She lives in the middle of everywhere and in the middle of nowhere on her tiny acreage with her husband, two boys and several critters. She supports home education with her various groups and activities, and she believes in supporting home educators through the laughter and the tears and always having really good coffee on hand!
Compiled by: Judy Arnall
Judy Arnall began Alberta Homeschooling Association in 2018. She is passionate to support and grow home education in Alberta. She has unschooled her 5 children for the past 20 years and has 3 university graduates, 1 child currently in university and 1 happy teenager. She wrote The Happy Homeschooling Handbook, Alberta Edition, and also Unschooling To University; relationships matter most in a world crammed with content.