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10 Top Homeschool Questions
Yes! Homeschooling – also called home education or home-based education depending on the province or territory – is legal across all of Canada. However, the legal requirements for homeschooling differ considerably. Click here for a brief summary of what you need to know about homeschooling in your province or territory.
Be sure to keep informed of your province or territory’s homeschooling requirements – laws, regulations, and policies can change! HSLDA Canada stays abreast of changes to homeschooling policy throughout the country and keeps its members informed of potential changes. Members have access to detailed explanations of the laws for each province on HSLDA Canada’s member site.
Families choose homeschooling for a wide variety of reasons. Here are 10 categories to get you started. Read the blog to learn more about each category.
- Enriched specialized learning
- Encourages critical thinking
- More time with family and increased guidance for children
- Passing on values and beliefs
- Learning environment
- A safe space
- Fosters creativity
- Health and safety concerns
- Frequent relocation
There is no special certification or training 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. Some home educators would say that the only qualification needed to homeschool is a desire to do it!
You were your child’s first teacher, and you still teach them. You’ll learn as you go too. You can do this!
The average cost of homeschooling is very hard to pin down because every family does homeschool a little differently. Let’s look at two examples from a family of two (children are grade 1 and JK) who lives in Ontario.
Family #1 meets weekly with two other families as a co-op that includes science experiments, outdoor soccer, and a cooking class. The weekly routine includes an afternoon at the conservation area and a trip to the local library for a storytime and to pick up 20-30 new books to read out loud at home. Most of the learning is done through discussions and reading history and science from “living” textbooks that were borrowed from a friend with activities and experiments that use typical household supplies. They use mostly Khan Academy and apps/games for math as they focus on math facts for the older child.
Family #2 meets weekly with a large co-op with registration fees of $15 per week. The weekly routine includes sports events at the YMCA and purchasing one new book that matches their faith. (They are trying to build their personal library with books that are hard to find at the local public library.) Two to three times a month they go on a field trip to a museum, tour, attraction, or special event. The children both have private music lessons. The family loves Lego. So, this year they purchased a Lego education kit. They use a purchased online curriculum for math with automatic grading. Plus, one child has a tutor for English.
Both families have lots of learning experiences, but they are obviously working with two different budgets.
Some elementary history and science curriculum is specifically designed so that you can use it with multiple ages at the same time, thus saving the family money. Generally, as children get older, parents discover their child’s method of learning, interest, and skills, and as a result, it becomes harder to group children together with the same curriculum. There are many options available for older children that can be more expensive, including online high school classes. Some people would suggest the average cost of home education is between $300 and $500 CDN annually ($30-$50 per month over 10 months), but this is by no means the minimum or maximum.
Homeschool students have the flexibility to enjoy extracurricular activities to enrich their educational experience. Parent Educators can create schedules that work for their families and plan additional activities according to their children’s needs and interests. Flexible schedules allow for more time to engage in their interests such as sports, arts, and music. For example, children who participate in competitive sports with rigorous practices can benefit from a customized academic schedule to create a more balanced environment. Many elite student athletes need to be homeschooled to accommodate their schedule that would otherwise be compromised by attending public or private school. In addition, homeschool children can explore various activities in greater depth which could lead to scholarships, apprenticeships and career development.
There are many homeschool support groups that offer cooperative parent-led programs that include electives and extracurricular activities. Here’s an example of a successful group that provides incredible opportunities for home educators and their families:
Some provinces offer home education options that permit a homeschooled student to receive the provincial high school diploma or certificate. In provinces that do not offer these options, students can pursue alternatives to a diploma to achieve their postsecondary goals, such as taking the GED exam, preparing a portfolio to submit to the university of their choice, or taking standardized testing such as the ACT or SAT.
Some families set their own homeschool requirements for high school graduation and issue a parent-generated diploma when the courses are completed. These families choose curriculum, field trips, mentors, co-op classes, and other learning experiences to achieve these requirements. A graduation certificate is available for purchase through HSLDA Canada.
This article has a link to the graduation requirements of each province, which some families use as a guide for choosing areas of learning in high school.
Homeschooling through high school can be very exciting! Together, you and your child can plan what and how they would like to learn, keeping in mind their personal vocational goals and interests. When homeschooling secondary school, the classroom is not a limitation. Perhaps your child will:
- Attend a homeschool co-op for woodworking
- Write a novel (yes, there’s a curriculum for that)
- Have a say in specific literature they would like to study
- Participate in a live online advanced physics course
- Learn from videos instead of textbooks because that’s their preference
- Complete a hunting and fishing course
- Study Cree, Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, or any other language
- Gain experience by volunteering at a business in the evening or on the weekend (similar to a public school co-op)
High school at home is planned with an eye towards the student’s future goals, desired life skills, and interests. Also, students need to find out what their post secondary school program or industry requires, and then plan their learning accordingly. Many students choose to use this time to build their resume through job shadowing as well as work and volunteer experiences.
Parents who are concerned that they “can’t teach” a certain subject will be pleased to know that there are many ways to overcome this barrier, although they are likely more capable than they think! There are many options for instructing students, including video courses, online courses, tutoring, and group instruction such as at a homeschool co-op. And, if your child is currently seven years old, remember that you do not need to plan their high school education just yet!
Homeschooling through to post-secondary is an entirely doable and very rewarding task. Every student, no matter how they are educated, should first identify what their goals are for higher education. Parents often guide their children in this process. Some students choose a college or university program as their path; others decide on a trade or apprenticeship program. The course prerequisites and application process will vary depending on the type of learning and the institution itself. Some institutions accept a parent-made transcript. Others require an independently evaluated essay or a standardized test such as the ACT or SAT. For some programs, you may be asked for a portfolio or samples of your work, and others simply ask your student to take the GED or apply as a mature student. There are as many options as there are post-secondary programs. So, homeschoolers are encouraged to connect early with the institution of interest. This will help you ensure you have your prerequisites in place and understand their expectations.
Students should also consider online options, including open learning programs. Many of these programs do not have prerequisites and some even offer certificate and diploma programs.
Here are three sites that may help:
Some provinces, such as Alberta and British Columbia, offer educational options for homeschoolers that allow students to graduate highschool with a provincial diploma. In many provinces and territories, it is possible for homeschoolers to take some courses at their local school which can assist greatly in getting into certain postsecondary programs. Take a look at the resources listed under your province or territory’s name to explore these options.
HSLDA Canada is one organization that has helped homeschooling students in their pursuit of tertiary education. Enjoy Andrew’s story and how HSLDA was able to help.
Homeschooling your child with special needs allows you, the parent who knows your child best, the flexibility to design your child’s learning in a way that meets their specific needs.
While planning what your child will learn, you may need to 1) accommodate the child’s needs by changing how the child is taught but not modify the content or 2) modify how the content is taught and what content is taught.
Be sure to take advantage of all that home education has to offer. As you plan what your homeschool will look like, remember that you get to:
- Set a learning pace that matches your child’s learning abilities, knowing that all subjects may not be at the same grade level or at a “typical” learning level.
- Teach topics based on individual ability and introduce new content at a rate that is tailored to your child.
- Have a daily routine, taking into consideration what your child’s needs and wants are, including sleep, eating, exercise, attention span, outdoor exploration, etc.
- Choose methods of learning (including curriculum) according to how your child learns best: audio, visual, kinesthetic, and/or tactile.
- Decide the environment that is ideal for your child (levels of noise, light, visual stimulation, and posture/position).
- Include outdoor play and reading out loud.
- Provide a safe, supportive, encouraging, flexible atmosphere.
- Create accommodations and modifications for your child, knowing they won’t feel so “different” because there aren’t other classmates to be compared to.
- Don’t forget to build your own support network.
Ways People Homeschool
You can preview some of the most well-known educational approaches and methods right on our website. Many of these methods have been tested over hundreds of years, while others are more recent. For example, we’ve examined Classical Education, the approach of Charlotte Mason, Online & DVD, the Project-based method, and more. With this information, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the various educational methods available, and find a homeschooling style that suits your family!