These days, the homeschooling movement in Canada is on the rise, with more and more people accepting it as a viable option for educating their children. If you are researching how to homeschool in Canada, here is the information you need to get started. There are 6 main areas that I’d consider important to examine as you start the journey: Know the Reasons, Understand the Rules, Find Support, Choose Curriculum, Have a Plan, and Never Stop Learning. Let’s explore them together.
How To Homeschool in Canada: 6 Steps To Start Your Journey.
Step One: Know Your Reasons Why.
Every homeschooler has a story about why they chose this journey. Not everyone has the same journey or reasons for starting to homeschooling, but it’s important to know what your personal reasons are. Write them down, make sure they are visible, and then use them to feel confident in your decision.
Why is this the very first step?
Because you will have days where people question you and make you doubt. Or your child and you fight and you wonder if you should keep going. Or life feels overwhelming and you don’t know if you can do this anymore. Having that clear why means that you can remind yourself of your reasons and can keep pushing through rough days or doubt with clarity.
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Step Two: Understand the Rules.
Although homeschooling anywhere in Canada is completely legal, each province and territory has their own set of regulations and expectations surrounding homeschool. It is important that you familiarize yourself with what your province/territory requires. The last thing you want is to have a conflict that could cause big troubles for your family and your intent to educate at home.
In British Columbia, there are actually 2 main options for learning at home. One is called Distributed Learning (enrolling) and the other is actually homeschooling (registering). There is a big difference between the two – homeschooling being more independent whereas distributed learning requires you to meet provincial Learning Outcomes under the supervision of a teacher. Homeschoolers in this province get financial support with the value dependent on what option they choose and what school board they are with.
In Alberta, home educating families are required to register with a willing board somewhere in the province and have their plans approved. There are 3 options: completely doing your own plans, following some government curriculum outlines, or completely following the school plans. You are assigned a facilitator who visits you throughout the course of the year. This province offers funding to families who homeschool, depending on what school board and method of schooling you choose – as long as you are registered by the 30th of September.
Homeschoolers in Saskatchewan are required to register with their school board and provide an educational plan for each child. Over the course of the year, they need to keep a portfolio of their work or provide a written summary which they present at the end of the year. Funding for homeschoolers varies according to district.
In Manitoba, homeschoolers need to inform the government that they are homeschooling. In January and again in June, an official report is filed outlining the learning completed. This province offers no funding to homeschooling families.
Ontario homeschoolers are asked to submit a yearly letter of intent to their local school board. There is no requirement or involvement from the government. This province offers no funding to homeschooling families.
Regulations in Quebec regarding homeschooling changed in 2018, requiring homeschoolers to notify the minister and school board of their intent to homeschool and send in a learning project outlining plans for the year. During the year, parents are also required to send in a mid-year and completion report & at the end of the year have an evaluation done. Sometime in the year, a minister’s representative will hold a follow-up meeting to see how things are going. This province has no funding for homeschooling families.
In New Brunswick, homeschooling families have to either register with an English or a French board. The Anglophone board requires submission of a fairly basic set of forms and will respond with a letter of approval. The Francophone board is more complex – requiring a more detailed application outlining your homeschooling plans along with an in-home interview. This province offers no funding to homeschooling families.
In Nova Scotia, parents are required to register their child using a form that is available on the Ministry of Education’s website. In June, parents need to follow that up with a progress report, outlining what their child learnt throughout the year. This province offers no funding to homeschooling families.
All that is required for PEI homeschoolers is to fill out and submit a notice of intent form. This province offers no funding to homeschooling families.
Newfoundland & Labrador
Parents/guardians must apply by June for the upcoming school year. Students will be registered in their community school. Progress reports are required up to 3 times a year depending on how long you’ve been homeschooling. There are no financial payments or compensations granted to parents.
In the Northwest Territories, parents register their children with their local school, where they are classified as students but are exempt from attendance. Homeschoolers in this province get a portion of the funding from the school to help pay for their school expenses.
Homeschooling in Nunavut involves registering with their local school and working with the leadership in that school. Inclusion of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) – or the teaching of Inuit societal values and culture is to be included in a homeschool education. Funding in this province is available on a reimbursement plan.
Yukon homeschoolers need to register with the Aurora Virtual School, who co-ordinate the home education program for Yukon Education. Along with registration, submission of a home education plan is required that outlines the plans and learning outcomes for the year divided into four semesters. The Yukon uses the British Columbia curriculum outline for their guidelines. Funding is provided for homeschoolers in this province.
LOOKING FOR MORE INFO ON YOUR PROVINCE? CHECK OUT THE GETTING STARTED PAGE.
Step Three: Get Support
Another very important key to homeschooling success is to build yourself a support system. But why, and how, should you find support?
In today’s technological world, support groups aren’t just limited to the homeschoolers in your local community. We are able to connect with homeschooling families from around the world through online groups – opening up a whole new set of support networks that didn’t exist not that long ago. We’re able to find people from all walks of life who are experiencing the same day-to-day struggles, successes, and questions we have. Check out this list of Facebook groups.
A homeschool support group traditionally consists of several homeschool families that get together in person for various meetings or events, with the purpose of providing opportunities for kids to interact with other homeschooled kids, parents to connect socially, and to get access to things like field trips or classes. Having real-life, in-person friends that you can meet with can mean the difference between success and burn out for homeschooling parents. It’s important to have that support system in place to have your back.
Step Four: Choose Curriculum.
Now comes the part that most new (and many experienced) homeschoolers find overwhelming: Choosing curriculum.
Before you dive headfirst into the (potentially bottomless) world of homeschooling books and resources, I recommend that you start by researching two things: your child’s learning style and the various homeschooling methods. Choosing to consider these two areas first will help you narrow down your curriculum search and make it more personalized to your child’s needs and your teaching preferences.
Learning Styles are typically divided into 3 main options: visual, auditory, and kinetic. This is really simplifying it as learning styles can be very complex, but this is generally a good place to start.
- Visual = seeing.
- Auditory = hearing.
- Kinetic = moving/doing.
You will find you are better able to narrow down how your child best learns as your journey progresses, but for now – it’s a bit of a chance to use your observation skills and see how your child understands the world around them.
Now, it’s time to take what you’ve learnt about your child and combine it with your own teaching style and preference. There are many different ways to homeschool. Here are some of the main ones:
• School at Home (or Traditional) – Basically the public school system brought into your home, this method involves textbooks and notebooks – just like your child would at school.
• Classical – Dividing childhood up into three segments based on their natural abilities, this language-centred method involves a lot of rote fact learning in the early years when children love memorization, followed by application of logic in the middle years and rhetoric in more advanced grades.
• Charlotte Mason – Following the teachings of Charlotte Mason, who believed that children should love to learn and as teachers we should facilitate that. This method uses living books – typically fiction books that bring people and events to life.
• Unschooling – Also referred to as child-led or delight-directed learning, unschooling allows a child’s interest, passions, and life experiences be the driving force behind their education, instead of a curriculum plan.
• Unit Studies – Focusing on one topic at a time and connecting other subjects such as science, history, language, etc together based on that one subject.
• Online or Video Schooling – Technologically based, this method uses either a website or video that leads the kids through instructions and lessons, with various different activities and reviews.
• Montessori – Based on the research of Dr. Maria Montessori, this method involves creating an environment that fosters and stimulates children to learn through self-discovery and exploration.
• Eclectic – Combining the parts of any of the above methods, or using their own style, this method involves a mix and match approach to learning, personalizing everything to the child’s learning.
If you are pulling your child out of the school system, you might hear the word “deschooling” mentioned by veteran homeschoolers. Deschooling is when you take a period of time off from the mindset and structured life that happens with public schooling. It means dropping all formal education and letting your kid be free to do whatever they want for a while – allow them to be aimless, be OK with them doing nothing all day, leave them to play, explore, and pursue their own interests without the pressure of school. The challenging part of this experience is your own personal preconceived expectations of education and learning. It’s hard to let go – even for a little while. Spend the time with your child and get to know them better before getting into the plans of homeschooling.
To date, there are no Canadian specific curricula available to just pick up and use out of the box. Most Canadian homeschoolers choose to either use and adapt an American curriculum or mix and match to piece together their own. (Here are some Canadian Curriculum options.) There are a LOT of options to choose from and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. This is why it’s really important to get to know your child and your teaching style before you start looking for options.
A simple search engine search for homeschool curriculum will yield you a wide collection of options – which will probably lead you to run away screaming. Reading reviews of products is a great way to get feedback on what works and what doesn’t for different homeschooling families. Read the testimonials on the company website, search for homeschooling blog reviews, see if there are any YouTube videos of people using the product. If you can go to a homeschool conference, take the opportunity to meet the vendors, check out the materials, and chat with other homeschoolers about what they like and don’t like.
Choosing to homeschool and getting started can be an overwhelming experience.
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Step Five: Have a Plan
Although different provincial regulations and teaching methods require different amounts of detail for plans, actually having some sort of plan is definitely essential to every homeschool. [Yes, even unschoolers!] This could be as structured as knowing exactly what you are going to every day, or it could be a more loose plan of general themes, topics, or a daily schedule. Once you find a planning method that works for you, stick with it. It will make this homeschool journey much easier for both you, your kids, and any record keeping you need or want to do.
When you first start homeschooling, you need to have a plan about where in your home your child is going to “do school.” Many people just use their kitchen or dining room table, especially at first. When you start feeling more comfortable in your learning – you will probably find that homeschooling happens all over the house (or even not in the house at all!) Avoid the temptation of sinking large amounts of money on a designated homeschool room, expensive furniture, and piles of supplies off the start – wait until you settle into your homeschooling styles and routine to see what would work best for your family. The only furniture you may want to consider is a bookshelf – this will be very handy!
Step Six: Never Stop Learning
This section is called “Never Stop Learning” because, honestly, that’s the base of it all: Learning. And I’m not talking about the kids. I’m talking about us. The teacher. We have so much we need to learn as we walk this journey. Homeschooling offers us so many opportunities to develop ourselves in our areas of weakness – whether that be skills in patience, communication, or even math! As parents and teachers, we need to role model a spirit of learning and curiosity so our children will follow suit.
How To Homeschool in Canada: Conclusion
In general, homeschooling in Canada is pretty easy. Our biggest challenges are mostly around the costs of shipping and the US – CDN dollar exchange rate and finding resources that are from a Canadian perspective. Hopefully, these 6 steps will help you feel more confident in your search for more information about how to homeschool in Canada. If you need more information from here, I recommend checking out the Getting Started section of this website or signing up to get a copy of my How to Homeschool in Canada ebook which goes into each of these sections in more detail.