First published on The Canadian Homeschooler,
this article is used by permission of the author.
One of the very first steps that you need to take when you are considering homeschooling is to become familiar with the laws of your province or territory. Although homeschooling is legal across the country, each province and territory has its own set of rules and requirements to follow—some extremely lax and some fairly regimented (with most falling somewhere in between).
British Columbia has two options for learning at home:
(1) Distributed Learning isn't categorized as homeschooling. Instead this approach is actually intended to be the same as public school but done at home under the guidance of a teacher. Students are ENROLLED in the program—whether it be through a public or independent school.
(2) Homeschooling allows parents to choose how and what they are teaching their children at home, without needing to meet the provincial learning outcomes or receive guidance from a teacher. Students are REGISTERED, and documentation must be submitted by September 30th each year.
Funding is available in British Columbia; however, it depends on which option you choose. Students who are registered as homeschoolers do not qualify for a Dogwood diploma; however enrolled students can receive a high school diploma when they complete specific credit requirements.
Alberta families who homeschool are required to register with a board somewhere in the province and have their plans approved. There are three options:
(1) School-At-Home is just that—students enrolled in a school but taught at home under the guidance of a teacher, following the provincial outcomes.
(2) Parent-led learning is more traditional homeschooling—where parents decide the how and what they are teaching their children at home.
(3) Blended is a combination of the two previous options.
You are assigned a facilitator who visits you throughout the course of the year. This province offers funding to families who homeschool, as long as you are registered with a “Willing Non-Resident” School Board by September 30th of the year that you are planning to homeschool. Your students can receive a provincial high school diploma if they meet certain requirements.
Saskatchewan requires homeschoolers to register with your school board and provide an educational plan for each child. Over the course of the year, you’ll want to keep a portfolio of schoolwork or provide a written summary, which you’ll present at the end of the year. Funding for Saskatchewan homeschoolers varies according to district.
Manitoba asks homeschoolers to inform the government that you are homeschooling. In January and again in June, an official report is filed, outlining the learning completed. This province offers no funding and no provincial diplomas to homeschooling families.
Ontario asks that homeschoolers submit a yearly letter of intent to your local school board—but this is not mandatory. There is no requirement or involvement from the government. This province offers no funding to homeschooling families, nor will you receive a provincial high school diploma.
Québec seems to have the most challenges for homeschoolers, although homeschooling is completely legal. (As of July 2018, new regulations have been put in place.) Parents are required to send a notification to the minister and the school board, complete a mid-year and end-of-year report, and meet with a representative during the year for follow-up. At the end of the year, students will be required to complete an evaluation. Because potential additional changes have been mentioned, you’ll want to check for up-to-date information at AQED's Getting Started Page. This province offers no funding to homeschooling families.
New Brunswick homeschooling families have to register with either an English or a French board. The Anglophone board requires submission of a fairly basic set of forms and will respond with a letter of approval. The Francophone board is more complex—requiring a detailed application outlining your homeschooling plans and an in-home interview. This province offers no funding to homeschooling families, and a provincial diploma is not offered to homeschoolers.
Nova Scotia requires you to register your child using a form that is available on the Ministry of Education's website. In June, you’ll need to follow that up with a progress report, outlining what your child has learned throughout the year. This province offers no funding to homeschooling families. Diplomas are not available for homeschooled students.
Prince Edward Island homeschoolers simply fill out and submit a notice-of-intent form. This province offers no funding to homeschooling families, and no diplomas are available for homeschoolers.
Newfoundland and Labrador requires that homeschoolers apply by June for the upcoming school year. Your students will be registered in your community school. Progress reports are required up to three times a year, depending on how long you've been homeschooling. There are no financial payments or compensations granted to parents, and no diploma is available for homeschoolers.
The Northwest Territories asks that you register your children with your local school, where they’ll be classified as students but are exempt from attendance. Homeschoolers in this province get a portion of the funding from the school to help pay for their school expenses.
Nunavut homeschooling involves registering with your local school and working with the leadership there. Inclusion of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ)—or the teaching of Inuit societal values and culture—is to be included in a homeschool education. Funding in this province is available on a reimbursement plan.
Yukon homeschoolers need to register with the Aurora Virtual School, which co-ordinates the home education program for Yukon Education. Along with registration, submission of a home education plan is required, which outlines the plans and learning outcomes for the year (divided into four semesters). The Yukon uses the British Columbia curriculum outline for their guidelines. Funding is provided for homeschoolers in this territory.
As legal requirements often change, the best way to make sure that you’re following the rules for where you live is to connect with a homeschooling association for your province or territory. They will know more about exactly what you need to do to start your homeschooling adventures.
Lisa Marie Fletcher is a busy homeschooling mom of 5 who somehow manages to find some time to blog at The Canadian Homeschooler where her mission is to help connect homeschoolers across Canada with each other and with resources to help them on their journey.