Homeschooling is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional schooling in Canada, and with homeschooling comes a lot of questions. Is homeschooling legal in Canada? What curriculum should be used? Should I employ a private tutor or homeschool my child myself? And most importantly, do Canadian universities accept homeschooled applicants?
Is homeschooling legal in Canada?
Yes, homeschooling is legal within the public school systems of each Canadian province. Each province has its own regulations for homeschoolers such as compulsory registration and mandatory assessment testing. Generally speaking, parents have the freedom to choose their own homeschool curriculum, however some provinces require that it meets provincial standards.
What are the Canadian provincial approaches to homeschooling?
In Alberta, children are required to be in full time education between the ages of 6 and 16, with parents able to choose between homeschooling or shared responsibility, where they and the school authority share responsibility for the child’s education. If the option of homeschooling is taken, then parents must:
- Submit a notice of their intent to home educate annually to the supervising board or private school.
- Prepare and submit to the supervising board or private school a home education program plan outlining a list of the planned educational activities, instructional methods and resources used, and how the child is to be evaluated; and,
- Meet with a teacher from the child’s supervising board or private school at least twice per school year to facilitate evaluations of the student’s progress.
In Alberta, parents can choose whether or not to follow the Alberta Programs of Study, but if they opt against following this program, then they must ensure that their home education program plan will enable their child to achieve the outcomes set out in the Schedule to the Home Education Regulation.
Financial support is available via Alberta Education, with the Ministry offering $800 per child per school year to help with any educational expenses incurred through homeschooling.
Similarly to Alberta, in British Columbia, children must be educated between ages 6 and 16.
If you’re looking at homeschooling your child, then there are two options. The first of these is registered homeschooling, where the child is registered as homeschooled with a public or independent school, and parents or a private tutor deliver traditional homeschooling. The second is distributed learning where the child is enrolled with a public or independent school, which delivers a distance education/distributed learning program.
Any students taking the distributed learning option must meet the British Columbia curriculum learning outcomes, be supervised by a licensed teacher, must use school-approved resources, participate in provincial testing, and have their progress evaluated by a teacher who also prepares report cards for the student.
In Manitoba, students must be educated between the ages of 7 and 18.
When it comes to homeschooling, parents must follow the law set out in the Public Schools Act. Therefore, home educators must submit an approved homeschool notification form to the Homeschooling Office by September 1st of each school year. The parent must provide an outline of the education program, which is included on the approved notification form. In addition to this, the parents must provide two progress reports per year to the Homeschooling Office. If you choose to use a private tutor to provide a homeschooling experience, then they will be tasked with creating these reports.
Children must be in education between the ages of 5 and 18 in New Brunswick.
In relation to homeschooling in New Brunswick, then the New Brunswick Education Act mandates that the Minister of Education shall exempt a child from attending school where the Minister is satisfied that the child is “under effective instruction elsewhere” (Section 16(2)). An exemption from compulsory school attendance must be submitted to the local school district by September 15th each year.
New Brunswick is a more relaxed province in which to homeschool, with few legislative requirements for documentation and reporting.
Newfoundland & Labrador:
In Newfoundland and Labrador, children must be in education between the ages of 6 and 16.
Its laws and regulations in relation to homeschooling are very similar to New Brunswick, with parents having to apply for an exemption to school attendance, which is signed off by the Minster, and this is done on an annual basis.
However, while there are no enacted regulations governing the procedure and policy for directors, the anglophone school district (the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District or NLESD) has developed its own policy with a detailed list of requirements for families wishing to homeschool. The policy designates one Homeschooling Coordinator for each of the NLESD’s four regions, limits curriculum choices to “those curricula that have been approved” by the Department of Education, and requires parents to submit progress reports and work samples.
In Nova Scotia, it’s compulsory for students to be in education between 5 and 16 years old. In this Eastern territory of Canada, home education is regulated by the Education Act and the Governor in Council Education Act Regulations made under the Education Act.
Parents looking to homeschool must:
- Submit the Home Schooling Registration Form to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development before September 20th of each school year.
- The parent must identify the proposed home education program on the Registration Form, which has space to describe the parent’s plan for English language arts, maths, social studies, science, and other programs/activities; and,
- Submit the Home Schooling Progress Report form, in which the parent comments on the child’s progress in the above five subject areas, to the Department of Education by June of each school year.
The Department for Education has the power to request assessments and their results or a portfolio of the child’s work, but only usually does so if there’s a concern about the child’s progress.
Children in Ontario, home to the Canadian capital of Ottawa, must be in education between the ages of 6 and 18.
In Ontario, a child may be excused from attending school if they are “receiving satisfactory instruction at home or elsewhere”, according to Section 21(2)(a) of the Ontario Education Act.
Homeschooling in this province is extremely well established, as you may expect given the capital’s location, and is considered one of the best provinces to homeschool in Canada.
Prince Edward Island:
Children must be in education between the ages of 6 and 16 in the province of Prince Edward Island.
Like many of the other provinces, those wishing to homeschool must submit a couple of forms, namely a notification form and a declaration, and have them approved by the local education department before embarking on a homeschooling program.
The Department of Education may provide advice and comments to the parent on the home education program being delivered, and the Education Minister may provide authorized textbooks to a parent for use in a home education program, which require a refundable deposit of $50.
In Quebec, children must be in education between the ages of 6 and 16, and the province is one of the most regulated provinces in which to homeschool, with the regulations changing on a fairly regular basis.
Under the current law and regulation, parents homeschooling in Quebec must:
1. Notify the Direction de l’enseignement à la maison (the “DEM”) – the homeschooling office at the Ministry of Education – and their school board that they are homeschooling in July of each school year.
2. Prepare and submit to the DEM a “learning project,” which details the educational plan for each child.
3. Prepare and submit a status/midterm report on the child’s progress.
4. Prepare and submit a completion report at the end of the school year.
5. Attend a monitoring meeting with their resource person from the DEM at a time arranged by the parent and the DEM resource person during the school year. The child must attend this meeting.
6. Arrange for a third-party evaluation of the child’s progress each year, chosen from one of five options, which include evaluation of the child’s portfolio by the DEM, and an evaluation of the child’s progress by a licensed teacher which are the two most commonly chosen options.
Homeschooled children are also required to write Quebec’s Ministerial examinations, which came into force in 2021/22.
In Saskatchewan, children should be educated between the ages of 7 and 15, which is the smallest age range anywhere in Canada.
Parents wishing to homeschool their children in Saskatchewan should notify a registering authority, prepare and provide a written educational plan setting out goals, subjects and assessment methods, maintain a portfolio of the child’s work and provide a progress report at the end of each school year.
School divisions receive funding from the Department of Education for the home-based students who register with them. Each school board has a different policy on how this funding is shared with home-based educators, who must contact their school division for information about the amount of funding available and how it can be used.
The Northwest Territories have a compulsory school age of 6 to 16 years old.
Parents intending to homeschool must firstly register the homeschool program with a school every year and also meet with the school principal to provide a sampling of assessments showing the student’s progress and to discuss the student’s progress twice per school year.
Funding for homeschooling families is generous in the Territories. Families who have registered and are approved by September 30th of each school year can request reimbursement for eligible educational expenses incurred, up to nearly $4,000.00 per student per year. Access to school facilities and resources can be negotiated with the school, as can homeschooled students’ part-time attendance at school.
Like many provinces and territories, in the Yukon, children must be in education between 6 and 16 years old.
However, the process of homeschooling works slightly differently in this province, with parents having to register their home education plan with the Minister, which is done through Aurora Virtual School, who have a delegated responsibility for approving and monitoring home education in the Yukon. They must also prepare a three-year educational plan for each child being home educated and submit it to AVS.
Funding is available to reimburse parents for the costs of educational materials, up to $1,200.00 per year per child.
In Nunavut, children are required to be in education between 6 and 18 years old.
Parents who wish to provide a homeschooling program must be under the supervision of a district education authority (DEA) by registering the home schooling program with a school. They must also ensure that the homeschooling program fulfils the curriculum standards set by the Minister for the education program. Finally, they must meet with the school principal to provide a sampling of assessments showing the student’s progress and to discuss the student’s progress twice per school year.
Should I employ a private tutor to teach my child or children?
When it comes to employing a private tutor for homeschooling your child, there are pros and cons. Some homeschoolers have found success with private tutors, while others prefer the DIY approach. If you decide to hire a tutor, make sure to research their credentials and qualifications and determine whether their teaching methods align with your homeschooling goals. Better still, engage with a specialist private tutor agency such as ourselves. As you may know, here at Beacon, we pride ourselves on offering a bespoke service, expertly matching tutors with families in need of an educator for their child or children. As a result, we’re perfectly positioned to help you make the transition to homeschooling.
Do Canadian universities accept homeschooled applicants?
As for universities in Canada, homeschooled students are welcomed just like any other student applicant and must meet the same admissions requirements as any other applicant. In fact, some universities such as McGill University even offer special programs specifically tailored towards homeschooled applicants. So if you are homeschooling your child in Canada, they should have no problem being accepted into a reputable Canadian university.
Overall, homeschooling is becoming a more viable option for many families in Canada looking for an alternative educational path. There are many homeschooling resources available in Canada and homeschooled students have the same chances of being accepted into a Canadian university as any other student. With this knowledge, homeschooling can be a great option for families who wish to provide their children with quality education in a more personalised setting. With homeschooling, Canadian parents can provide their children with an educational experience that is tailored to their individual needs and interests. So if you are considering homeschooling in Canada, make sure to do your research and ensure that you comply with the necessary provincial regulations. With homeschooling, Canadian parents have a great opportunity to give their children a quality education in an environment where they feel safe and supported.