There’s a better way! Homeschool.Today





Homeschool.Today exists to help direct, support, and connect individuals and families around homeschool-related matters. Homeschool.Today is your top source for the latest in news, research, legal requirements and important issues affecting home educators.

     

  • + What is homeschooling?
    Homeschooling is a method of education, where parents and/or guardians take on the role of teacher in their child’s day-to-day learning. Rather than attending a public or private institution for the elementary and high school years, parent/guardians facilitate the learning process at home. 
  • + Is homeschooling more effective than public or private school?
    The overall effectiveness of home education depends on a number of factors. The method (s), or curricula, facilitator and overall engagement of the student are all vital to homeschooling’s success. Canadian and international research indicates homeschooling is effective in a number of areas. Studies have shown homeschoolers have better reading, writing, and arithmetic scores than their peers. Homeschool graduates typically advance further in postsecondary studies than their peers and tend to have higher earning potential upon graduating. 
  • + Why people should care
    Higher grades, better focus, and an increased earning potential make homeschooling an attractive option for parents and students alike. With flexible work hours and distance learning becoming the norm, there’s never been a better time to explore educational alternatives. You don’t need to be a scholar to teach your child. Resources abound for home educators. If your child isn’t being challenged in school, if you are concerned for their mental well-being, or simply want more time with them, homeschooling is an excellent option to consider. You can teach your child. You’ve already taught them so much. Make more memories with your child. Homeschool today.

Success happens in the home: Graduate Success Stories 

5 Top Homeschool Questions

  • 1. What about socialization?

    This is one of the most commonly asked questions that homeschoolers receive. Ironically, recent studies have shown homeschoolers outperform their public school peers in a number of subject areas, including the social sciences. Homeschoolers frequently interact with individuals of varying ages and are involved in numerous extracurricular activities in their respective communities.
  • 2. What qualifications do I need to teach?
    There is no special certification required to homeschool your child. Parents have the option of choosing from a variety of curricula to help enhance the learning experience of their child.
  • 3. How do I fit homeschooling into my lifestyle?
    As a parent, you’re always teaching your child. Homeschooling is an extension, albeit a more invested extension of what you’re already doing. In the early years, parents focus on ensuring their child reaches their developmental milestones. Later, homeschooling provides a way for parents to be involved in their student’s educational process, providing guidance along the way. To suit the needs of their employees, more and more employers are offering flextime and work from home options. Never before have individuals had as many workplace options, when it comes to the environment they work in. Enter home education. The flexible nature that accompanies homeschooling provides the ideal backdrop for working parents. Homeschooling is more about teaching a child how to learn, then teaching them what to learn. Parents act as coaches for their students, guiding them towards greater critical reasoning skills.
  • 4. If I homeschool, how does my child receive a high school diploma?
    Students often do not need to show proof of a high school diploma in order to pursue postsecondary education. This is a common misconception. Parents can help their child in the admissions process by keeping a portfolio of their child’s progress throughout their teenage years. 

    Understand the school’s admission process
    Another way parents can help their student, is by connecting directly with postsecondary institutions of interest to understand their admissions process better. Some schools have separate procedures for homeschoolers. Parents should become familiar with these processes and encourage their teen to apply early in order to avoid potential disappointment.

    High school credits
    Your student can participate in online high school credit courses, which can help them obtain a high school diploma.
  • 5. Is homeschooling legal?
  • More FAQ

You’ve Decided to Homeschool… Now What?

Whether you made the decision to homeschool in your child’s preschool years, elementary years or during secondary school, there is much to consider and it can feel like you are parachuting out of an airplane. Nonetheless, there are a few things you can do to ensure a safe landing on both feet: establish your goals, understand provincial requirements, connect with other homeschoolers, and choose your curriculum.

  • 1. Understand provincial requirements
    Homeschooling is legal across Canada, but the laws in each province and territory differ, so be sure to inform yourself of your rights and responsibilities. Even if you think you know the legal requirements, it is best to verify these because laws and policies can change. The Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada (HSLDA Canada) stays abreast of changes throughout the country and keep their members informed. They also have free downloads of required provincial and territorial homeschool forms to simplify the process. You can obtain a summary of the laws in your jurisdiction if you have a membership with HSLDA Canada.
  • 2. Establish your goals
    One important aspect, especially in a society of two-income families, is that homeschooling is home-based and is ultimately the parents’ responsibility. Therefore, to keep or bring one parent home to be the primary teacher can require some juggling of finances and schedules. Choices will have to be made, and priorities set. Many families take one year at a time, re-evaluating their circumstances at the end of every year. Writing out your reasons for homeschooling at the beginning of the year can be helpful in this re-evaluation process so you can see if your goals are met and to encourage you in your pursuit of your family’s priorities.
  • 3. Connect with other homeschoolers
    It is vital to connect with other homeschoolers. Being a part of a large organization such as HSLDA is beneficial not only to keep current with legal requirements, but also for information, support, and even insurance for your group activities. But joining a smaller, more intimate group as well, such as a support group or co-op will help you fine-tune your homeschool. There you will find group outings, creative activities, encouragement from other parents, a safe place to laugh and cry about your victories and challenges, and an outlet to share. Provincial associations can be another important point of connection, most notably the incredible home education conferences they organize.
  • 4. Choose your curriculum
    Conferences and support groups are an ideal place to ask about, compare and shop for curriculum. What is effective for one family is not necessarily effective for another, so you will want to do your own research. In a sea of choices, it helps to determine what education method would work best for you and your child. Homeschool curriculum providers, such as The Learning House, Homeschool Canada, and Tree of Life have excellent book and curriculum reviews on their websites.
  • 5. Enjoy the journey

    No matter what curriculum or method you choose, every families homeschool looks a little different. This is part of what makes homeschooling so beautiful and effective. Keep focused on your family’s needs and priorities, re-adjust as needed, and keep connected with the homeschool community. HSLDA Canada, the only national homeschool association, and Provincial associations are there to help you every step of the way and answer your questions so you can relax and enjoy the adventure.

Download the Getting Started Guide today!

Education Methods

Homeschooling is about discovering, or rediscovering, numerous educational possibilities available to your children.

Children have always been educated. They probably have always been taught under the framework of an educator – a person who has analyzed even their own education. Today, teaching methods benefit from real history thanks to the written tracks left over the course of the past two thousand years by thinkers, scientists, and those who can be called pedagogues. All of them contributed to the enrichment of pedagogy in science or art.

As a parent-educator, you have the opportunity to choose the pedagogical method or methods that best suit your children, your objectives, and your teaching style. Click here to learn more about Learning Styles

Now you can preview some of the most well-known pedagogical approaches and methods through an interesting blog series. Many of the methods have been tested for hundreds of years, while others are more recent. For example, we’ve examined classical education, the pedagogy of Charlotte Mason, Waldorf education, the project method, and more. After a short description, the strengths and important points to consider are listed followed by some useful links.

With this information you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the various methods; and, possibly find one that’s suitable for your family!
 
  • Charlotte Mason
    +Learn More


        Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She believed that children are persons in their own right deserving of respect and that they learn best when they are given time to play, create, and be involved in real-life situations. The Charlotte Mason method emphasizes short lessons covering a wide variety of subjects, as well as developing good habits. Students show what they know by giving narrations, participating in discussions, and keeping journals and a history timeline, rather than by taking tests. This style of homeschooling uses rich literature and “living books” rather than traditional textbooks or children’s books. Typical Charlotte Mason homeschool days might be filled: with nature walks and a nature study; journaling; copywork; dictation; handicrafts; art and music appreciation; foreign language; trips to museums; map work; memorization; as well as the usual academic subjects. The days will be scheduled into short blocks of time, alternating easy tasks with more challenging tasks. Afternoons are usually reserved for outdoor time and hobbies.
    STRENGTHS
    • time-tested with a successful history spanning more than 100 years
    • easy on the budget with many downloadable materials available online
    • compatible with unit-study and classical homeschool methods
    • emphasizes the use of rich literature and “living books”
    • uses methods that will nurture a love for learning and reinforce good lifelong habits
    • many subjects can be covered with multiple siblings together
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • most materials and websites generally reflect historically Christian-based philosophies
    • methods are well-suited to younger students; resources for students approaching high school level might be harder to track down
    • for more advanced studies in math and science, homeschooling parents may need to access additional sources
    • Charlotte Mason materials reflect an older time frame and don’t mention screen-based modern technology such as computers or television
    RESOURCES
    • “A Charlotte Mason Education” by Katherine Levison
    • “More Charlotte Mason Education” by Katherine Levison
    • “A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning” by Karen Andreola
    • The Original Home Schooling Series by Charlotte Mason
    • “For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School” by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
    • simplycharlottemason.com
    • amblesideonline.org
    • charlottemasonhomeschooling.com (Living Books Press)
    • Maple Tree Publications
  • Classical Approach
    +Learn More
    Classical Approach The Classical Approach has roots that date back to the Middle Ages. It is based on three stages of teaching called the Trivium. After younger children have a preparing stage learning the three R’s, they begin the Grammar Stage (ages 6-10) where they focus on absorbing information and memorizing the rules of phonics, spelling, grammar, foreign language, history, science, math, etc. The Dialectic Stage comes next (ages 10-12) where logical discussion, debate, drawing conclusions, research, algebra, and thesis writing is introduced. During the Rhetoric Stage (ages 13-18) systematic, rigorous studies continue as the student seeks to develop a clear, persuasive use of language. The classical method often incorporates Latin and Greek studies or current foreign languages. There is a strong emphasis on reading “Great Books” in a chronological fashion and a history notebook is kept so the student sees how their lessons fit together. Socratic dialogue is incorporated to encourage students to achieve a deep understanding of themselves and the world. A typical student’s day may be scheduled with: reading; writing; spelling; grammar; math; adding to a history notebook; logic and reasoning skills studies; memory work; Latin vocabulary; religious studies (if applicable); art; and, music study.
    STRENGTHS
    • time-tested and proven style of education
    • the focus on “great books” results in students who are familiar with key texts and ideas throughout history and across the globe
    • with an emphasis on reading, students often become better readers than most adults
    • logic and critical thinking skills are taught
    • there are plenty of clear texts, schedules, learning plans, ready-to-use curricula and learning materials to choose from
    • the study of Greek and Latin develops a better understanding of more modern languages
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • some parents may find the amount of reading too difficult or the level of reading too sophisticated for their students
    • the heavy focus on reading and seatwork leaves less time available for other interests or practical skills
    • there is less flexibility to teach things out of order
    • some parents may question how practical the study of Greek and Latin are for modern day students
    RESOURCES
  • DVD/Video
    +Learn More
    DVD or VIDEO DVD or Video schooling can be used to supplement a single subject or as an entire curriculum. Some Math and Science textbooks have accompanying DVDs to explain concepts. Children can learn to use word processing and other office tools for assignments. There is a broad range of educational software to help teach Math, Phonics, Geography, or many other topics. Several language learning programs are available in DVD or video format, as well as various instrumental music programs. Historical films, YouTube videos, video storybooks or educational TV shows are other ways that people often supplement homeschool studies. Since many households have easy access to computers and television, using DVDs or videos in the homeschool has become very popular.
    STRENGTHS
    • can be used in combination with most other homeschooling methods
    • useful for those who are pulling together their own curriculum
    • good choice for families who need their children to work more independently
    • good for students who have a more visual learning style or simply prefer a high-tech learning environment
    • using DVDs and videos from the library can make this method very affordable
    • DVDs and videos can usually be used for multiple or subsequent children
    • learning about a topic in a video format can help children understand things in a way that might be harder to visualize with just words or pictures (e.g. Science experiments, historical settings, or the sound an instrument should make)
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • having children work independently can reduce the opportunity for parents to learn alongside their children
    • watching DVDs or videos doesn’t allow for the two-way communication with the teaching parent that children, especially younger children, benefit from
    • concepts might be explained too quickly or too slowly to keep the student interested
    • level of technical, educational or teaching support varies
    RESOURCES
    • homeschool catalogues
    • public library
    • Netflix or similar video streaming company
    • YouTube
    • public television
    • Switched-on-Schoolhouse
    • Robinson curriculum
  • Eclectic/Relaxed
    +Learn More
    Eclectic  Eclectic or Relaxed homeschooling is a popular style of homeschooling where home educators take bits and pieces from a variety of different methods. It is a style that many homeschoolers default to after they get to know which programs work best for their children. Often, they will evaluate their students’ learning styles and watch closely to discover where their talents and interests lie, and then design a curriculum around those considerations. An eclectic or relaxed homeschool day might include some time using math software; journal or letter writing; reading from a periodical based on their area of interest; a science experiment in the kitchen; playing a trivia-type geography game; pursuing hobbies; taking a 4-H class or going to an interest club of some sort; and, listening to a parent read a more challenging novel before bedtime.
    STRENGTHS
    • students can be educated in a way that best suits their unique needs and abilities
    • most flexible homeschool method
    • has the most resources available since most materials from other methods could be used
    • a popular homeschool method, so it isn’t difficult to find other homeschool parents to share ideas and resources with
    • considers the unique qualities and talents of the students to help maximize their interest and motivation to learn
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • well-suited to seasoned educators who are more able to decide what methods would mix well, what adjustments might need to be made to a curriculum, or what might work best for their unique child
    • with more flexibility and available resources, a newer homeschooler may feel overwhelmed with all the choices available
    • an eclectic or relaxed homeschooler may discard a homeschool resource too quickly in a quest to find what works best for their child, without taking the time to understand the program better and make good use of the resources they’ve invested in
    • focusing on a student’s area of interest might leave another subject area inadequately covered for post-secondary entrance criteria
    • a growing brand of eclectic schooling is “hybrid” homeschooling, which combines part homeschooling and part traditional schooling (public or private)
    RESOURCES
  • Independent Learning
    +Learn More
    Independent Learning When a child is learning independently, they are taking full responsibility for their learning. Often homeschool families gradually move to this style of homeschooling as their students get older, particularly for high school studies. Following a structured learning plan, the child will read the lesson in the textbook (or watch the video), answer the questions or problems, check their work, study for the test, and take the test without parental involvement. The parent teacher may grade the tests and papers or help the student when they don’t understand something; but, for the most part the student is on their own. In a typical homeschool day, a student chooses when they study. For example: reading and note taking; review previously learned material;make some flashcards; present assignments or tests to the parent for marking; discuss or research something they are having difficulty with; and/or, make a study schedule for the next course or textbook they will complete.
    STRENGTHS
    • good for busy families that need their children to work more independently
    • the student learns how to read or listen for understanding
    • the student learns how to study, encouraging a habit of lifelong learning
    • allows the child freedom to determine their own routine
    • the student learns characteristics such as perseverance, self-reliance, initiative, and time management which will be an asset in post-secondary studies or life in general
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • parents need to be aware of what level of accountability is appropriate for their child
    • not suitable for younger children; many high school age students thrive in this environment
    • this method may not be ideal for families who want the student’sinterests to guide what is studied
    RESOURCES
    • The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellenceby Joanne Calderwood
  • Internet/Computer Based
    +Learn More
    Internet/Computer Based Homeschooling from online websites or computer programs can be used to supplement one or more subjects or as an entire curriculum. The number of Internet or computer-based learning sites has been growing rapidly. Popular subjects to teach or supplement with the computer include keyboarding, math drills, music theory and foreign languages. Online courses are commonly used by high school students. These are offered publicly or privately. Synchronous scheduling requires students to stream lectures, take exams or hand in assignments at set times, while asynchronous scheduling allows students to log in or submit assignments at their convenience, sometimes with a course completion deadline.
    STRENGTHS
    • some online academies or virtual schools offer accreditation
    • some parents feel more comfortable having a third party oversee their child’s education, for some high school subjects in particular
    • good choice for families who need their children to work more independently
    • good for students who have a more visual learning style or simply prefer a high-tech learning environment
    • websites can be accessed from anywhere and at any time, a good option for families that travel or participate in activities out of the home
    • good for families that live very far from a school or library
    • compatible with different homeschool styles
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • Internet safety precautions should be considered
    • cost for tuition or use of websites can vary from free to costly
    • having children work independently reduces the opportunity for parents to learn alongside their  children or the ability to keep up with what they are learning
    • level of academics might be too easy or too difficult to keep the student interested
    • level of technical, educational or teaching support varies
    • an online website might not thoroughly cover all the important aspects of a subject
    RESOURCES
  • Literature Based
    +Learn More
    The literature-based homeschool avoids the use of textbooks and workbooks whenever possible, using high-quality literature instead. “High-quality literature” is alsoreferred to as “Great Books”, “Living Books” and “real books”. Literature choices may include: fiction or non-fiction written by renownedauthors; children’s books;chapter books; popular best sellers; biographies; historic fiction; online magazines; relevant ancient textsand original source material such as historic journals, eyewitness accounts and correspondences. A literature-based homeschool day might include sitting on the couch to read books together; some memory work or copy work from good literature; discussion, quizzes, written summaries or student narrations about what was read; some colouring or crafts while listening to stories; and, further reading or discussion over dinner about what was learned during the day.
    STRENGTHS
    • with a careful choice of books, learning can be current and in-depth
    • well-chosen books can help a subject “come alive” and lead a student into further research
    • interesting learning allows for better memory retention
    • high-quality literature offers rich vocabulary, grammar and word usage and demonstrates excellent writing for the student to emulate
    • read-aloud choices are often read to the child above their grade level which further expands their vocabulary and knowledge
    • high quality literature promotes a desire for independent learning
    • this style of homeschooling can be integrated into most other homeschool methods can be a low-cost method by using the library
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • an excellent choice for parents and students who already love to read and write; may not be the best choice for very active hands-on learners or for students who struggle with reading and writing
    • higher level math may bea challenge to teach without the use of textbooks
    RESOURCES
  • Montessori
    +Learn More
    The Montessori method  was developed out of the psychology work of Maria Montessori, an early 20th century Italian physician and educator who worked with special-needs children. She believed that children learn best in a “properly prepared environment” that promotes independent learning and exploration. This student-based approach uses free movement, large unstructured time blocks, and multi-grade classes. Quality and natural learning materials are kept well organized and made available for the students to work with, believing that children will be drawn to what they need to learn. Montessori homeschoolers will often set up learning centers in their home such as a math area, a sensoryarea, or a practical life area. A typical Montessori day might include a circle time; plenty of time to work at different stations with manipulatives such as sandpaper letters; numerical rods, or puzzle maps; time spent playing outdoors; foreign language instruction; listening to stories; and, time spent practicing personal care or homemaking skills.
    STRENGTHS
    • suitable for all learning abilities from learning disabled to gifted
    • spatial and tactile intelligence are highlighted, making this method particularly suitable for hands-on learners
    • especially appropriate for young students who need touch, movement and play as part of their learning
    • very adaptable method that allows the student to pursue their talents or interests
    • fosters self-discipline and cooperative learning, with older children helping younger children
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • most resources and materials are targeted for younger children
    • requires certification to correctly apply the method
    • some students need more structure or challenge than this method provides
    • the focus on independent learning may be challenging for children with exceptional needs and/or children who need regular one-on-one instruction
    • this model is based on a humanistic view of children and available resources will reflect that philosophy
    • more commonly used in the classroom, the Montessori method is not always listed as a homeschool method, so homeschool resources and networking might be harder to find
    • official Montessori materials can be costly and difficult to find
    RESOURCES
  • Notebooking
    +Learn More
    Notebooking is not a homeschool philosophy, but rather a popular method for students to journal and reinforce their learning. Journaling is an ageless discipline that not only records the journey of learning, but develops a child’s writing voice and creative talents. Written narrations, copywork, timelines, reports, lists, observations, drawings, maps and photographs are some of the items that could be included in their notebooks. Lapbooking is a similar process, but a file folder that contains a variety of “mini books,” foldables, and other materials is used to cover detailed information about a single topic or unit of study. The use of notebooking or lapbooking can be used to informally evaluate a child’s learning, and tests are often put aside. Homeschooling with the notebooking method includes activitiessuch as: reading; watchingor visiting any variety of sources on a subject; oralnarration of what he has read or observed; doing some copywork; writing (narration, list, poem, quote, etc.); drawing a picture or colouring a map or timeline figure; and, showing grandparents or friends their growing notebook or lapbook collection.
    STRENGTHS
    • the process of notebooking reinforces many skills such as listening, narrating, summarizing, organizing, penmanship and drawing
    • notebooking is easy to adapt to the different age levels in a family
    • expressing the knowledge students have absorbed helps commit the learning to memory
    • can be used with or without curriculum, and is compatible with most homeschool styles
    • keeping a notebook or journal gives a child a feeling of owning their knowledge and encourages a habit of lifelong learning
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • students who struggle with written work may not enjoy this as much
    • depending on what is included in the notebooks, this method can involve considerable parental time for planning and tracking down resources
    RESOURCES
  • Project-based
    +Learn More
    Project-based homeschooling is based on the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, developed in Italy after World War 2. The Célestin Freinet method is a similar project-based approach to learning. The child takes all the responsibility for their project and their learning, with parents assisting them with research, planning, or obtaining resources for their projects. Real-life learning cannot be divided neatly into separate subjects, but many projects will incorporate all the major learning areas. The parents keep a journal recording such things as observations, steps taken, or questions asked so the parent and child can later reflect on and discuss the project. A typical day might include: a visit to the local library to conduct research; some planning on a white board; discussing aspects of the project over lunch; stretches of time where the student is absorbed in working on his project; reading related books; and, some time for studying any subjects that aren’t incorporated into the project.
    STRENGTHS
    • very much student-led and student-centered
    • not an ‘all-or-nothing method’; but, works well with many other homeschool methods
    • students that collaborate on projects develop valuable social skills
    • inquiry-based learning fosters a love and motivation for learning
    • working on projects can make research meaningful and develop strong research skills
    • having a projects-based approach to learning can nurture student passions and talents
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • a good choice if you value independent or self-directed learning
    • difficult to plan a structured learning path
    • projects might need some guidance to ensure that all core competencies are being developed
    • attempting to incorporate every subject into a project might not work so well for certain subjects that build on a growing bed of systematic, prerequisite knowledge (e.g. math)
    RESOURCES
  • Traditional/School-at-home
    +Learn More
    Traditional/School-at-home The traditional or school-at-home method is a popular homeschool choice due to its familiarity and ease of use. Prepackaged curricula often use textbooks and workbooks with lessons, study schedules, assignments and tests all laid out for the parent teacher to follow. Some programs offer more support with online video classes and teachers who mark assignments and assign grades. Some families follow a traditional school-at-home style, but gather their own homeschool materials. A typical school-at-home day is very much like a traditional school day with a fullschedule which often includes:worksheets; tests;textbook assignments; classroom type lectures; a languageprogram; and, occasional science experiments.
    STRENGTHS
    • new homeschoolers feel secure with a program that is thoroughly laid out
    • a homeschool that is run much like a traditionalschool day is familiar and can be more comfortable for some families
    • typically aligned with federal and provincial school standards
    • a good method for families that plan to homeschool for the short-term due to illness or other life circumstances
    • teachers’ manuals, answer keys, test books, and other teaching aids are usually available
    • since subjects are distinct, alternative curriculum can be used for some subjects while retaining a predictable structure
    • there are many prepackaged, grade-by-grade, ready-to-use curricula available giving homeschoolers a wide selection to choose from
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • boxed curricula are often designed around the larger classroom model
    • prepackaged curricula is not always cost effective
    • opportunities to explore personalinterests are limited
    • traditional curricula can be very time consuming for the parent teacher, especially when multiple siblings are being homeschooled
    • this method has a high burnout rate because of the time, energy and cost associated with trying to replicate a traditional school at home
    • many prepackaged curricula are typically designed for US homeschoolers
    RESOURCES
    • Abeka; Bob Jones University Press; Modern Curriculum Press; Scott Foresman;McDougal Little; Houghton Mifflin; Alpha Omega LIFEPAC Curriculum;School of Tomorrow PACE curriculum; Rod and Staff; ACE; Sonlight
  • Umbrella Program
    +Learn More
    Umbrella Program An “Umbrella” or “cover” school will approve and oversee a homeschool program. They may offer distance learning that can be used for one subject or as a complete curriculum. Some provide the learning materials while others work with the parents to find curriculum choices that are the best fit for the family. There are umbrella programs that offer courses that are similar to what is offered in a public school and others that follow an alternative educational style. Some offer accreditation while others do not. A typical homeschool day under an umbrella program is often like a traditional school day, but that depends on the educational style of the program. Usually the school will keep a record of students’marks. Sometimes field trips or other activities are organized through an umbrella school as well.
    STRENGTHS
    • some parents are more comfortable with a third party overseeing their child’s education, especially for high school level classes
    • provides parents with accountability which can often motivate parents to homeschool more consistently
    • students may receive a diploma that is recognized by post-secondary institutions
    • homeschooling under an umbrella program that follows provincial standards can make future transition back to traditional school easier for the child
    • following an umbrella program over the long term helps ensure subjects and skills are covered
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • some umbrella schools may offer a guidance counselling service to help with post-secondary school applications
    • some may charge an annual fee
    • some may have a religious affiliation or want to mandate some of what is taught in the homeschool
    RESOURCES
  • Unit Studies
    +Learn More
    Unit Studies take a theme or topic and incorporate all or many different subjects into that topic (language arts, history, geography, science, arts, etc.). They are a popular way of organizing homeschool studies and are compatible with many homeschool methods. Unit studies can be created by the teaching parent, but there are also many prepared unit studies available for free or purchase. Purchased unit studies are sold as separate studies, or as part of a complete curriculum program. A typical homeschool day using a unit study about Ancient Egypt might include: reading books about Egypt (history); making a salt dough map of Egypt (geography); exploring why the area around the Nile was so fertile (science); calculating the height of a pyramid (math); watching “Prince of Egypt” (cultural studies); learning how to spell “pyramid”,“ancient” and other related words (spelling); creating a page with a picture of a sarcophagus and a short written description (art, handwriting and composition); and, listening to a bedtime story set in Egypt (literature).
    STRENGTHS
    • unit studies are easy to tailor to the learning style and interests of the student
    • multi-level unit studies allow all the children in a family to study the same topic together
    • unit studies can be very fun by incorporating things like cultural cooking, field trips, skits, or other hands-on projects
    • when subjects are presented in a holistic manner, students develop a more “connected” sense of knowledge
    • this method works well with many homeschool styles
    • easy to adapt studies to focus on a student’s weaker subjects
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • using this approach runs the risk of not covering certain subjects or competencies adequately
    • not all prepared unit studies are created equal and a parent-teacher needs enough homeschooling experience to recognize what will work well for their students
    • attempting to incorporate every subject into the unit study might not work so well for certain subjects that build on a growing bed of systematic, prerequisite knowledge (e.g. math)
    RESOURCES
  • Unschooling
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    Unschooling is a child-led method of homeschooling that is strongly influenced by the work of John Holt. This style of homeschooling is also referred to as “natural learning”, “experience-based learning”, “interest-led learning”, “deschooling”, or “independent learning”. Unschoolers tend to avoid typical school schedules, textbooks, tests or formal lessons; and, prefer to have children learn by following their interests and curiosities. There is also a respect and trust in the natural ability of children to direct their own learning. Unschooling parents see their role as facilitators rather than teachers. An unschooler’s day might include: time outdoors;building projects; helping in a home-based business; reading historical fiction; playing board games; watching videos; drawing;or, creating their own books. They will often focus on one activity passionately before moving onto another area of interest.
    STRENGTHS
    • children are allowed the opportunity to become experts in their areas of interest
    • children develop their research skills
    • it supports the development of a love for learning
    • it is highly adaptable to the learning style and needs of the child
    • incorporating experiences, projects, field trips and activities that follow their interests can facilitate a richer, more memorable learning experience
    • unschooling respects the unique personality and gifts of each individual child
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • unschooling tends to react against the limitations and failings of other school models. When avoiding anything that looks like ‘school’, parents need to be careful they aren’t discarding valuable methods of learning
    • some students might need more order or structure than this method provides
    • unschooling does not cover content in a systematic way. Students may miss some core competencies or have difficulty re-entering school if the parents decide to discontinue homeeducation
    • Unschooling may be a good temporary option for children who are recovering from a difficult school experience. Following pursuits that truly interest them may re-ignite a joy of learning.
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  • Waldorf
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    Waldorf education is based on the work of Austrian educator Rudolf Steiner and was designed for use in small private schools. The methods have been adapted for use in the homeschool setting. Stressing the importance of educating the whole child in mind, body and spirit, there is an emphasis in the early grades on arts and crafts, music and movement, natural science, spirituality, and group social skills. Older children are guided to develop self-awareness and to reason things out for themselves. The use of television and computers are discouraged. Children in a Waldorf homeschool also do not use standard textbooks; instead, they create their own journals or books recording their experiences, thoughts, discoveries, and conclusions. A typical Waldorf homeschool day has a rhythm and flow that incorporates:circle time; some reading and writing; spoken storytelling;play time with Waldorf inspired toys; a math or science lesson; assisting with meal preparations; a field trip or nature walk; crafts; and, a bedtime ritual.
    STRENGTHS
    • a developmentally sensitive approach
    • children are treated as individuals and curriculum is tailored to their unique style of learningmusic and art are incorporated across the subjects
    • using play as a learning technique is a pleasant introduction to academic learning
    POINTS TO CONSIDER
    • intolerant of mass media
    • the Waldorf approach to reading is substantially different from how it’s taught in the mainstream
    • not suitable if you value the use of technology
    • a Waldorf education uses a delayed approach to academics in the younger years
    • Waldorf teachings are based on Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy of anthroposophy
    RESOURCES

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