Families considering homeschooling might take the advice of seasoned veterans, and that is: "a little bit of research goes a long way". The Calgary Public Library is a great place to get started and carries over 100 titles on the subject.
Some favorite authors include: John Holt, David and Micki Colfax, Linda Dobson, Wendy Priesnitz, Raymond and Dorothy Moore, Suzanne Schaeffer and Charolette Mason. These authors represent various philosophies and methods that include everything from pre-packaged structured curriculum choices to child-led learning.
Talking to friends who homeschool is another way to get first-hand, honest information. Friends will not be afraid to tell you that homeschooling comes with its challenges as well as its rewards. New homeschoolers can quickly burn themselves out by trying to do too much, when sometimes less can be better. One friend makes a daily plan, but when the plan is not working she can chuck it out and not worry about it, there is always tomorrow. If there are no homeschoolers in your area there are various support groups in and around the city with volunteers who can answer basic questions.
The law in Alberta requires parents to register with an accredited school board. Flexibility towards homeschoolers can vary among the different boards. Parents will benefit by interviewing individual boards to find the one that suits their needs. It is not unusual to switch boards after trying one out for a year.
There is no typical homeschooling family nor a typical homeschooling schedule, but, for most the day begins at about 9:00 a.m. around the kitchen table with a hot cup of tea or cocoa in one hand and a pencil in the other. Children at the elementary and junior high school level often finish their studies by 1:00 p.m. freeing the rest of the day for other projects or hobbies. As children get older, especially at the high school level, there is more demand on their time and they usually put in longer hours.Picking a program that works for you and your child takes time and patience. Many homeschoolers have spent good money on a program highly recommended by a friend only to have it flop with their own children after the first two chapters.
Some children learn best and are happiest through hands-on discovery that happens in the kitchen, backyard, or a nearby pond. Some will learn best with unit studies or simply reading it out of a textbook. Some children will require a bit of everything. Parents learn soon enough what works and what does not --- homeschooling is a journey not a destination.
Some local support groups:
Airdrie Christian Home Educating Parents 948-5401
Calgary Christian Home Educators Association 912-0769
Calgary Home Educators Encouragement and Resource Society 254-6344
Cochrane Home Educators Association Contact: 932-2172
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