Homeschooling 101

How many kids in Canada are homeschooled? How do you get started? Find out in this story, which includes web resources.

By Dayna Boyer

Getting your homeschool started

Homeschooling misconceptions
"The funny thing about homeschooling is that it's really a misnomer, because a lot of homeschooled kids I know don't spend a lot of time at home," says Wendy Wagner. a volunteer for the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents and a homeschooling parent herself. She says much of her nine-year-old son's education takes place outside their house. For instance, their recent excursions include learning about mummification at a museum and conservation at a nearby national park.

60,000 Canadian children are homeschooled
Educating your own children may seem like an intimidating and daunting task. But if you're considering it, you wouldn't be alone: about 60,000 children are homeschooled in Canada. And even this statistic might be inaccurate since some provinces don't require parents to register their children with a school board.

Considering your options
Depending on your child's learning style, you can approach educating them at home in a way that's more “outside the box” than the traditional classroom arrangement with a chalkboard and desk. One technique Wagner uses to shake things up is she uses all the different rooms of her house when teaching her son.

Before you start
Wagner advises to do as much research as possible, not only on the different style of homeschooling, and types of resources available to you but also on how your child learns. Here are some websites to get you started:

Helpful curriculum links to research
The Ontario Ministry of Education curriculum and policy guidelines. These documents outline generally what children are learning in each grade categorized by subject, but Ontario does not require teaching parents to follow a curriculum.

The British Columbia Ministry of Education offers a similar document that also includes generally how much time students spend in class in elementary and high school levels.

Similar documents can be found for each province and territory under their ministry of education's website.

Wagner says she started homeschooling her son when she was looking to enroll him in kindergarten and she found the closest school was well over capacity. And at the end of the school year when she looked into what children were learning in junior kindergarten it turned out her son had naturally learned most of the curriculum of junior and senior kindergarten.

"We don't separate learning from life in our house. A normal child learns all day, every day. You can't stop them," says Wagner.

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