Many people think that having a job means homeschooling isn’t an option. However, many parents can make it work! Jen never imagined herself going back to work with 2 sons at home, let alone homeschooling as a working mom! But with a little extra creativity and flexibility, she has found some tricks and tips to help others who want to work and homeschool.
- Patience and Grace: As you start your homeschooling journey, be patient and gracious with yourself. Homeschooling looks different for every family, and it may take some time for yours to get in the groove of everyday school. That’s ok! You’ll get there. Just start with one day at a time. Homeschooling may not be a “forever” part of your family, it may be a year by year decision.
- Flexibility: Just because public school runs from 9-3, doesn’t mean your homeschooling has to follow that pattern or amount of hours. Some parents choose to homeschool in the afternoons and evenings after work, while others choose to stay away from “bookwork” and have more experiential learning. There are many other ways to stay flexible! You can still teach your family even if it doesn’t look like the routine of others. The main goal is that your children are learning. You can find many ways to teach your children apart from the “traditional” approach that takes pressure off of the parent being the ‘teacher’.
- Support: This is pretty essential. Having support from spouses, partners, extended family or friends is all important. On the days she needs to be in the office, she had others watch the boys and continue with them in their schooling. And her husband would teach certain subjects when he got home from work.
“All in all, it just takes some grace and time to figure out how it can work for your family. Our focus was for our boys to learn and grow, and that’s happened! As long as you are willing to get creative with their education and learning and stay flexible, there are many options available for your family. I love the time I get to spend and invest in my boys, and I cherish the learning we have together!”
Yes! You can homeschool as a single parent! I am in my 15th year of homeschooling, and the last four years have been as a single parent. Here are some things for you to consider while you are making your decision.
Resources: Time and Finances. You may have to be working as well as homeschooling. That can work with homeschooling, provided you have enough time to commit each day. This will vary by household depending on the ages and number of children, but you definitely need to set apart hours to homeschool. Your work may be flexible, and homeschooling can be flexible! Have a plan for your year’s curriculum, make a workable schedule, and plan to keep some record of your children’s learning.
Financially, homeschooling can vary in what it costs. I have found I have purchased more ready made book work lessons as a single parent than I did before, because my time and energy are more limited. You may need to set aside some finances to invest in homeschooling materials.
Energy: Meaning emotional energy. When I became a single parent, carrying on like ‘normal’ took a little time. If you have not homeschooled before, make sure you are in a place where you have the emotional energy to invest in this adventure. Single parents need time to recharge and get filled up! It’s important to make a plan for you to be emotionally strong.
Support: Homeschooling as a single parent has some unique challenges. Most of these require some extra support. First, being a member of HSLDA (which you get at a discount as a single parent). I am able, as a member, to call and ask my specific questions, which I have benefited greatly from. You also get a session with HSLDA’s learning specialist each year with your membership. Second, joining a co-op, if possible, is very beneficial. It’s important for everyone to connect with other families for group learning and field trips, but it’s especially important for single parent homeschool families. And lastly, support for you, the parent, is so important. You will need other homeschool parents to discuss homeschooling. Having friends or family that will support your endeavour to home educate your children is also a huge encouragement.
I am so thankful to be able to homeschool my children. We are not defined as a ‘single parent’ homeschooling family. We are a loving, vibrant, energy filled family that homeschools. As I have experienced, with the resources, energy and support you need, yes! You can homeschool as a single parent!
When Phil’s wife took on a full time job role, it was up to him to fill the shoes of a homeschool parent. While he also worked full time, he found the benefits of homeschooling to far outweigh the challenges and stresses.
When Phil took over, the kids had to go through an adjustment period. He had a different way of doing things than their mom had done. He found it challenging to know how much oversight to give while also keeping attitudes positive for a good learning environment. Needless to say, it took time for everyone to get in their groove.
As a working Dad, he also had to reprioritize when it came to his daily life. Much more of his time now had to go towards education. He had to take time out of his day to spend with the kids and go over schoolwork and answer keys. All while balancing his day job. It wasn’t easy, but over time these priorities fell into their rightful place.
These challenges quickly fade when Phil looks at all the benefits of being a homeschool Dad. One of these benefits is the education of his kids. Through the different styles of homeschooling, the kids became more independent and self taught. With Phil’s family doing more independently, they have actually advanced past what their “traditional” school grades would be doing, and are doing university classes in high school.
More importantly for Phil, he was able to spend so much time with his kids, and invest in their education. Whether it’s spending time learning or driving to the grocery store, they can have educational conversations and grow in their relationship. The depth of relationship that Phil grew with his children is something that will last forever.
So what would Phil say to any family or Father who is considering homeschooling? “Go for it,” he says, “it’s worth it, no matter what.”
There are many changing phases of life for homeschooling families, and, quite often, just when you get into a good routine, something changes again. Homeschooling families need to get resourceful with time and curricula in a way that best fits and supports what is happening in the home in any given year.
Multiple grades and ages? Maybe this is the year to switch to a unit study model of homeschooling. Having all the kids learning the same content together at the same time, but expecting age-appropriate learning outcomes is a great way to make the most of your teaching time, and make the most of memory building between siblings. Or, if the ages/grades are too different or the competition between kids is unhelpful, you could teach some children in the morning and the others in the afternoon. This takes up more of the parent’s day, but could feel more relaxing and effective as the kids work one-on-one with you and then have leisure or independent work time for the rest of the day.
When a new baby comes, some parents find that homeschooling takes a break. Maybe this is the year to consider year-round homeschooling. Take a month or two off when the baby arrives and then work through the summer months. Other families find that the ongoing routine and structure of homeschooling actually allows mom and baby to take time to bond and rest without interruptions from older siblings wondering what to do with their day.
Busy toddlers are greatly helped by activity bags. They so often just want to ‘do school’ like the big kids but you need them to be occupied with something that they can’t break, that won’t make a mess, and that won’t require you to divide your time between the older learners and the toddler. Keeping the toddler near the school table in a highchair with Activity Bags (look on Pinterest for more ideas) or Montessori games and items is a great way to begin some early learning skills and keep the little one occupied. Also, school that requires your undivided attention with the older kids could be moved to happen during the toddler’s nap time.
Most importantly, don’t forget that learning how to love and care for a toddler is a great part of homeschool, so don’t be afraid to assign childcare duties to one child while you work with another. Real life family skills are easy to overlook, but having a baby or toddler in the family mix gives the older kids opportunities they would not get in the classroom. Enjoy your family, be flexible, and have fun!
Some clarifying questions here would be helpful. Were your kids in school and now you are beginning homeschool? In that case, some of the lack of motivation could simply be due to things being new and different. In fact, you may need to give your kids a break and have some “de-schooling” time. They need to come to understand that learning happens in many environments and in many ways, so not being in a desk in a familiar classroom is okay. They may also feel like “home” equals “rest” and so doing school work there feels unusual. Take some time to set goals and expectations with your children about what school at home could look like. What do they feel they need to learn well? What made learning difficult in a classroom setting? At home, we are free to work in a quiet bedroom or at a busy dining room table. We can spend time learning outside. We can shift our day to work in the morning or afternoon or evening depending on when the child is most alert and able to focus. By spending some time discussing the why behind their lack of motivation, your child will likely be able to collaborate with you on building a very motivating and efficient learning environment. This is all part of the fun of homeschool!
If you have always homeschooled and are suddenly finding your child is resisting the work, take some time to see if anything has changed that they wish was the same, or if something could change that they wish was different. Do they really hate the particular math curriculum you are using? Are they more alert in the afternoon than in the morning? Did you move the school room to the basement but they prefer the bright living room? Did content suddenly get more difficult and they wish school felt fun again? Is it time to add more field trips or extra-curricular activities? Or are there too many field trips and the kids are exhausted and stressed when it comes to desk work? As in the previous paragraph, spend some time setting goals and discussing barriers to motivation with your child.
Also, it could be a good year to slow down on the book work and focus instead on building healthy family relationships. Children work hard and learn well when they feel safe, healthy, loved, and supported. Find out what emotional needs your child may have either coming out of a stressful school experience or a rocky homelife environment. Taking time to focus on healing relationships with mom and dad will absolutely pay off in learning success down the road.
Ultimately, the school work just needs to get done, just like parents have to go to work and someone must eventually clean the bathroom. School lessons also need to get completed and there is a good lesson there in learning diligence. But we ought to strive to make homeschooling as enjoyable as possible, so why not work with your child to find compromises you can both live with that make jumping back into school a desirable part of the day.
The concept of unschooling, also called child-led learning, is based on the belief that children learn best by following their interests and curiosities, and that educators should trust the natural ability of children to direct their own learning. John Holt advocated for the method in the 1970’s and is considered to be the father of the unschooling movement.
Unschoolers may use a wide variety of resources, including games, projects, daily tasks such as cooking and shopping, videos, and online resources, in addition to the more traditional resources such as textbooks, workbooks, and curriculum. Regardless of the resources used, the focus is on encouraging a child’s natural curiosity and providing a stimulated and non-coercive learning environment, rich in resources and support from the parent.
Record keeping of your child’s educational progress is an important consideration in all methods of homeschooling, and unschooling is no exception. Each province in Canada regulates homeschooling differently; some provinces require reporting on a child’s progress and/or evidence of that progress, where others require such reporting and evidence in the event of an investigation. In many ways, keeping records of that progress when unschooling requires more creativity than with other homeschooling methods, which produce traditional products of educational progress such as tests, quizzes, and workbooks.
Want to learn more about unschooling? Check out the Unschooling Education Method page for a list of useful unschooling resources.
No province in Canada mandates that homeschoolers use exclusively provincial curriculum.
Some provinces with more than one option for schooling at home have an option which includes use of provincial curriculum, and others require homeschoolers to use curriculum from an “approved” list or to get curriculum approved if it is not on the list. For more information, see the Summary of Provincial Laws across Canada.
However, in most provinces, homeschoolers are free to choose from an ever-growing array of homeschool curriculum and resources.
This list of Homeschool Resources may be very helpful.
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut offer various amounts of funding to homeschooling families. The amount of funding differs significantly depending on the province. For more information about funding in these provinces, click here for a Summary of Home Education Laws across Canada.
Some provinces offer supports other than funding to homeschoolers upon request, such as part-time attendance at school, access to curriculum documents or resources, or access to school facilities, extracurriculars, or support services
Regardless of whether families identify as homeschooling or not, most parents are teachers of their preschoolers. These young children learn in a variety of situations.
- Music – literacy awareness may start with the ABC song
- Hands on beside an adult – measuring food in the kitchen
- Independent play – science as children play with building blocks and explore outside
- Books – learning about the butterfly life cycle in a children’s picture book
- Mentoring and role models in groups – sharing and taking turns
- Observation – looking out the car window at a building under construction
- Field trips – visiting a fire station, apple orchard, or natural park area
- Questions – receiving answers to their “Why?” questions … preschool and curiosity go hand in hand
Reading out loud is very important at this stage. Growth in language development, fostering imagination, and bonding with parents are just three of the many reasons to read out loud to your preschooler.
Some families find it helpful to have a scheduled daily reading time and a weekly learning opportunity out of the house (library visits, field trips, play dates at the beach). Preschoolers learn all day long, but some parents who like routine choose a learning time when “special” learning opportunities take place. This isn’t necessary but can increase the fun and anticipation of learning. John Holt’s book Learning All The Time is an excellent resource for all parents of preschool children.
To help support the strong start of homeschooling preschoolers, HSLDA Canada offers a free membership to families whose oldest child is under six.
In elementary school, parents build on the foundation of skills and knowledge that the child has already acquired. Wherever your child is at, you can start from there. This is great news for children who do not learn at the same rate as the provincial curriculum dictates. It is possible for one homeschooled child to be at a certain grade level in math and a different one in English. Whatever their area of interest or expertise is, your child can move forward in that area without needing to wait for the rest of the class to catch up. Thankfully, this also helps children who are struggling in a certain area to take the time to learn concepts before moving on.
As children progress through the elementary years, parents have many options of how to enable their children to learn and the flexibility to try new options from year to year. Here are explanations about different education methods which may help you with how to enable your child to learn.
Reading out loud through this stage continues to be important. Vocabulary expansion and understanding character development are just two benefits of reading to children even though they are capable of reading to themselves. As you read with your children, be sure to ask questions. “What predictions could you make?” “Does this remind you of anything that happened at soccer practice yesterday?”
Fostering creativity, group learning experiences with peers at a local co-op, and lots of outdoor active learning are commonplace in elementary home education. As children progress toward high school, remember that you aren’t restricted to courses that your local public school offers. It’s okay to have a tech or home economics class. Requesting input from your child during the planning stages can help both you and your child have a successful, enjoyable year.
Your children have been learning since they were born. They heard the language you spoke and learned sounds, then words, then sentences. It is never too early to learn.
You’ve been teaching your children since they were born. They would see or point at something and you told them its name and how to use it. It’s never too early to teach.
You are your child’s first teacher and you can do this.
Official homeschooling naturally starts in some families when the children are preschoolers. Parents recognize they’re already teaching about colours, animals, counting, and decide that it’s time to purposefully do more. To help support this strong start, HSLDA Canada offers a free membership to families whose oldest child is under six., Be sure to review the legal requirements for your province prior to removing your child from school.
Having the freedom to choose how your child learns is so exciting! Here are some steps to consider:
- Reflect on how your child prefers to learn. Would they prefer to read a recipe or watch a video of how to make the recipe? Do they listen to podcasts or stories? How your child prefers to learn will become more apparent as the child gets older and is something to keep in mind for upper elementary and high school student’s curriculum that is completed independently. Remember, you may love learning from reading an article, but your child may prefer watching an instruction video.
- Ensure that your curriculum plan covers the four primary areas of learning: mathematics, language arts (reading, writing, speaking), science and technology, and social studies (history and geography). Consider possible electives your child may enjoy, such as other languages, art, music, coding, etc.
- Plan for having part of their learning to be independent from you once your child is through the primary grades. Some ideas include: spelling dictation with an app, an online math curriculum that includes grading, history in audio format, or learning to sew from a neighbour.
- Incorporate learning in groups. This social time can include homeschool co-ops, groups lessons, online courses, and group field trips.
For people who would like to follow a premade curriculum, there are many options. You can purchase whole grade levels together, or pick and choose your subjects one at a time. Some curricula are designed to do as a family so you can group your students together. This may mean that your 7 and 10 year old both learn about ancient Egypt at the same time from the same curriculum, with your older child completing something extra targeted at their learning level.
Canadian homeschool curriculum providers have excellent resources and book descriptions on their websites. For those not using Canadian curriculum, Cathy Duffy is a trusted American homeschool curriculum reviewer.
What is effective for one family is not necessarily effective for another, so you will want to do your own research. Conferences and groups are an ideal place to ask about, compare and shop for curriculum.
Lastly, no matter how much research you do, some curricula may simply not be a good fit for your family or for each child in your family. The good news is that you’re homeschooling! You can change it up next year, or sooner if required!
Bullying, social pressures, and, for some kids, classroom environment can be aggravating factors for a child who struggles with anxiety. Home education alleviates these issues, but as a parent, you can do much more than simply eliminate problems.
Parents, intentionally consider your child’s diet, sleep habits, outdoor time, exercise, screen time, and general environment. You likely already know some of what your child needs to feel comfortable. If your child needs to sleep longer or eat more frequently than a brick and mortar school allows, that’s okay. If your child requires silence or needs to pace herself in completing a task, these are both possible. You are in your home. You are in control.
As you spend more time with your child, you may notice and help your child identify triggers to times when they are feeling especially anxious. You can also help them practice using their coping tools. Scheduling school around extra health and counselling appointments can prevent your child from feeling like they need to catch up or that they missed something.
As you start home educating your anxious child, embrace the new focus. When an anxious public schooled child is struggling, sometimes success is defined by how many days in a week they actually went to, or stayed at, school. Now that you’re home educating, the focus can be on learning. Your child is not a student who has a problem or thinks they are a problem. Your child is simply a student who learns from home. This change of focus can be a new and welcome status for your child. This can really benefit their state of mind, enabling healing and learning to occur.
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:
Absolutely! Whether your child has special physical or learning abilities, homeschooling offers individualized attention and an approach tailored to the child. The school system is not necessarily always the best place for children to receive additional support.
There are qualified professionals who can help home educators create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), assist with a diagnosis, and offer the educational therapy or other supports you need for your child to enjoy a well-rounded education at home. For more information about homeschooling your special needs child, contact HSLDA Canada and ask about our special needs support team.
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.
Yes. You’ll want to make an appointment with the school. If you are transferring your child from home to a public or private high school, you are not required by law to provide the school with a transcript. A school cannot refuse a child’s enrollment, but they may ask to see indications of a student’s progress to better assess their capabilities. A student may first enter into an applied stream for a semester to have their academic achievement assessed.
The Canadian Achievement Test (CAT4) is one way parents can show their students’ academic progress. Parents can also show a scope and sequence in their child’s portfolio to help gauge their overall academic growth.
As in any area of life, home educators can reach a point of feeling burnt out.
Parents are used to encouraging their children to ask for help when something is difficult, but it’s also vital to take your own advice. Pause for a moment to consider the trusted people in your life: your spouse, extended family members, or friends. Whether the housework is piling up or your kids are stuck on a particular subject, asking the people around you for help could alleviate some of the pressure. If you haven’t already, connect with a local homeschooling community. It is quite common for homeschooling families to experience similar challenges and someone can help you during your season of difficulty.
Evaluating your homeschool is an ongoing process. As your children’s primary educator, you know there is more to it than reading, writing, and arithmetic. Children are constantly developing physically and emotionally. So, it’s important to keep that in mind throughout your journey as you plan your learning. Truly understanding how your family flows logistically is also a key component to maintaining balance. Take a good look at your calendar and determine if there is enough free time for everyone individually and collectively. Meet with your children and ask for their thoughts on what they like, what they don’t like, and what they would like to see in the future. Their answers may surprise and inspire you!
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 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 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!
Parents can choose to educate their children in a variety of ways. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that its focused atmosphere allows many students to complete their work faster than in a traditional school setting. Also, transition times between classes are less at home than in a class of many students, and education methods can be targeted at the specific individual student, which increases learning efficiency as well.
Hours per day/week:
Learning happens all day long, but generally, the younger your child is, the less “school” or “academic” time they will have. Most homeschool families have time scheduled in their week for learning away from home. For some, this includes joining an existing co-op, taking lessons, creating their own learning experience by gathering a group of friends to learn a specific subject, or doing a group field trip with other homeschool families to take advantage of “school” admission rates. Some families may homeschool full days if they are trying to progress quickly through their academic curriculum, while others may opt for half days Monday through Friday with experiential learning, fun, or employment in the afternoons. The homeschool day looks different in each family and even from day to day. Most families, as opportunities arise, take advantage of that learning experience and modify their routine.
There is no right or wrong plan for your school year. Some parents choose to follow the public school schedule so they can take advantage of community PA Day and March Break programs. Other families enjoy a “three weeks on and one week off” routine. Still others take larger chunks of time off during non-traditional months for vacation or when a parent comes home from deployment. From time to time, opportunities arise where families may plan many days off from their regular schedule and, instead, focus on experiencing other time-sensitive learning (ie: maple syrup production or bird migration).
Getting connected is very important for every homeschool family. HSLDA is here to help as are your provincial groups which are listed below for your convenience.
Local Support Groups
Local support groups are one of your best resources as a new homeschooler! Many groups maintain Facebook pages for organizing events and connecting new and existing members. Try searching using your province/town name and the word homeschool, home school, home education, or unschool. Once you join a group, ask questions but also search that group to discover their recommendations using search words such as local, support groups, co-ops, field trips, and used curriculum sales/swap groups.
However, not all local support groups – especially smaller groups – are on social media, so you may want to contact your provincial association or HSLDA Canada for more assistance in connecting with local groups.
Facebook has many virtual homeschool groups. Try searching using your province/town name and the word homeschool, home school, home education, or unschool. Once you join a group, ask questions but also search that group to discover their recommendations using search words such as local, support groups, co-ops, field trips, and used curriculum sales/swap groups.
If you have questions about a specific curriculum, search the name of the curriculum on Facebook. If it is a popular one, you may find not only the company page but also a user group (a group of people who all use that curriculum). Homeschool families like to share research and resources. So, being part of a group like this will not only help you learn about a curriculum but also find tips, supplemental activities, and maybe even a file listing YouTube videos matching each chapter.
Here’s a great interview with the leader of a homeschool group.
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.
Yes! Single parents receive a discounted rate of $156 on their HSLDA Canada memberships. Single parent networks are a great place to get connected and receive additional support. Read one single parent’s story on this blog.
Yes! but it takes planning and a certain amount of flexibility in your work schedule. Sorting through some questions can help.
- What set time do you have for work and school? (fixed hours for your job/commute, staff meetings, school co-ops, children’s lessons, and online courses)
- What are the most important learning areas that you want to make sure are covered? (This is a good place to start your academic planning. Remember, no student anywhere receives picture perfect education every year in every subject. Set your expectations accordingly. If, for example, geography is not a priority for this season, you could get your child to learn province names and capitals playing a game or using an app such as Seterra.)
- What learning/subject does your child need you present and fully engaged in and what can be completed independently? (Reading out loud is important and requires you to be fully engaged, but if your young child finds comfort with you in the room while he works on math, you can ask them to do math while you’re preparing a meal. There will be subjects, games, apps, and reading that your child can choose to do on their own. For example, if you use a pre-recorded curriculum or an app for spelling dictation, then your child may be able to work on spelling completely independently. Yes, this includes the marking!)
- How should you set up your home? (Does your job or your child’s school require internet connection or a device? What type of space do you both need: a desk, workbench, lab, floor space, etc.? Should you be in different rooms if one of you will be talking with others or listening to an audiobook or an MP3 textbook?)
- Do you have social time and rest built in for both you and your child? (Time to connect with others, creativity, reading, exploring, volunteering, and pursuing interests are all valuable parts of your child’s education. Plus, every person needs human connection and rest. Home education, by design, should not be stressful/pressured. Be wise with your schedule. No person is immune to burnout.)
- What is your plan for your child’s supervision if you are required to leave in order to work? While there are guidelines around appropriate ages and times to leave children alone in general, leaving homeschooled children alone for long periods of time during the day throughout the school year, especially during school hours, is not a good homeschooling practice.
- Tip: you’ll want to have times when you are just “Mom” or “Dad.” Although we learn all day long, not every moment you’re together should be seen, from your child’s perspective, as “school.” It is more than okay to play catch, share a fun video, do chores together, and just be a parent sometimes when you’re not working.
As you do your planning, be sure to think outside the box. If you are travelling twice a week to a sports game out of town, you could listen to your history course during the commute. If one child is waiting during the other’s dance lesson, try doing math or spelling then. Homeschooling is all about flexibility and thinking outside the box. Finally, try to connect with other working homeschoolers – in person or in online support groups for working homeschoolers. It can be very helpful to compare notes and share what’s worked and hasn’t worked with other parents who have been in your situation and understand these challenges.
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 hits 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 flex-time 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 than teaching them what to learn. Parents act as coaches for their students, guiding them towards greater critical reasoning skills.
Our “Can I homeschool if I work full-time?” FAQ has some planning tips that may help.
Transitioning from a school environment to homeschooling is a big leap, and it may take your child some time to adjust to their new “homeschool schedule.”
No matter what educational method you choose to use in your homeschool, there are major differences in the environment and learning style of homeschooling versus school. One of the common benefits of homeschooling is that older children can develop independent study skills earlier (note that some curricula and educational methods lend themselves more to independent study than others). However, developing these skills may take some time as the child adjusts to the shift away from a lecture-style classroom learning environment.
Connecting with other homeschooling families and a homeschool support group is another important step in transitioning from school. Homeschool support groups vary tremendously in interests and focus, and offer a wide range of supports from a specific schedule of extracurricular activities (such as a homeschool skiing meetup during the winter, field hockey league all summer, or a theater group with an end-of-year-production) to school-year-long weekly meetups with group classes taught by parents or teachers hired by the group. Some groups have Facebook pages where members can share news, activities, and plan events. Be sure to connect with your provincial homeschooling association and the Canadian Centre for Home Education (CCHE) for information about homeschooling support groups in your area.
The flexibility of the homeschooling schedule offers unique opportunities for making new friends, socializing on a more open schedule, volunteering, going on field trips with your family or homeschool group, and participating in community activities. You’ll also find you have more time to work with your child on taking an active role in household responsibilities and keeping the household routine on track.
During the early days of homeschooling, parents are often amazed at what they learn about their children’s personality, social skills, strengths, and learning style. Enjoy this time as you develop your new routine and set out on this exciting learning journey with your child!
Each province has its own requirements for homeschoolers . Generally, you’ll need to complete at least a form with your family’s contact information, and, in some provinces , documentation about your educational plan. Be sure to review your province or territory’s requirements HERE, and the forms for your province or territory on HSLDA Canada’s website here.
If you have a membership with HSLDA Canada, their experienced staff will assist you, when beginning your homeschooling journey, as you navigate the regulations specific to your family’s situation. They ask new members to allow 2-4 weeks for your application to be processed.
Check out our getting started page.
Deciding to homeschool can be a deliberate choice founded on your family’s circumstances, convictions or experience with other educational options, or it may be imposed on you due to an unexpected situation. Whatever the case, the decision must be a thought-out family decision. This lifestyle can sometimes have a significant impact on the different daily spheres of family members and the children’s educational journey. When united in this choice, the family will be stronger and in a better position to homeschool.
Discovering your child’s learning style and your own will help you and your child succeed in your homeschool. To read about various learning styles, click here and download the Many Ways One Goal now.
My preschool child?
Regardless of whether families identify as homeschooling or not, most parents are teachers of their preschoolers.These young children learn in a variety of situations.
- Music – literacy awareness may start with the ABC song.
- Hands on beside an adult – measuring food in the kitchen.
- Independent play – science as children play with building blocks and explore outside.
- Books – learning about the butterfly life cycle in a children’s picture book.
- Mentoring and Role Models in groups – sharing and taking turns.
- Observation – looking out the car window at a building under construction.
- Field Trips – visiting a fire station, apple orchard, or natural park area.
- Questions – receiving answers to their “Why?” questions … preschool and curiosity go hand in hand.
Reading out loud is very important at this stage. Growth in language development, fostering imagination, and bonding with parents are just three reasons to read out loud to your preschooler.
Some families find it helpful to have a scheduled daily reading time and a weekly learning opportunity out of the house (library visits, field trips, play dates at the beach). Preschoolers learn all day long, but some parents who like routine choose a learning time when ‘special’ learning opportunities take place. This isn’t necessary, but can increase the fun and anticipation of learning. John Holt’s book, Learning All The Time, is an excellent resource for all parents of preschool children.
My elementary school child?
In elementary school, parents build on the foundation of skills and knowledge that the child has already acquired. Wherever your child is at, you can start from there. This is great news for children who do not learn at the same rate as the provincial curriculum dictates. It is very possible for one homeschooled child to be at a certain ‘grade level’ in math and a different one in engligh. Whatever their area of interest or expertise is, your child can move forward with more learning in that area without needing to wait for the rest of the class to catch up. Thankfully, this also helps children who are struggling in a certain area to take the time to learn concepts before moving on.
As children progress through the elementary years, parents have many options of how to enable their children to learn and the flexibility to try new options from year to year. Click here to read explanations about different education methods.
Reading out loud through this stage continues to be important. Vocabulary expansion and understanding character development are just two benefits of reading to children even though they are capable of reading to themselves. As you read with your children, be sure to ask questions or think out loud. “What predictions could you make?”…. “Does this remind you of anything that happened at soccer practice yesterday?”
Fostering creativity, group learning experiences with peers at a local co-op, and lots of outdoor active learning are commonplace in elementary home education. As children progress toward high school, remember that you aren’t restricted to courses that your local public school offers. It’s OK to have a tech or home economics class. Requesting input from your child during the planning stages can help both you and your child have a successful year.
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!
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.