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Home education: a new unsupervised option

In 2020, 38,000 children (5 percent of the school-aged population) were home educated in Alberta by a parent or another adult. Home education in Alberta is defined as the parent or guardian exercising their right and responsibility to provide their child with an education. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the parent does the teaching. They can procure teaching from sources such as tutors, freelance teachers, co-ops or learning pods, relatives, childcare professionals or non-governmental online course providers.

As of September 1, 2020, parents have two choices in Home Education:

  • Funded Home Education under the supervision of a willing school authority located anywhere in Alberta.
  • Unfunded Home Education unsupervised through Alberta Education government notification.

Those who wish to notify the government that they are home educating and do not want a supervised/funded/supported program under a willing school authority may simply fill out a notification form for each child, each year, and send it directly to Field Services at Alberta Education.

Personally, I believe that a better term for “supervision” should be “supported.” When willing school authorities agree to supervise a home education program, they really are playing a support role. They provide help, funding, resources, information, suggestions and encouragement for parents wanting to educate their children at home. This is parent-led home education, not online schooling.

This government notification option provides the most freedom for home educators. There is no requirement for a written Home Education Plan. There is no funding for receipt reimbursement. (However, the curriculum can just be a free library card and internet access.) There are no teacher/facilitator visits with parents required. There is no evaluation of the student’s progress. There is no required work to be handed in. There is no written summary report/marks of the student’s progress. In Grades 1 to 9, there is no need for evaluation as the marks do not go on any government transcript. Government transcripts begin for Grade 10.

Those who miss the supervised funding deadline of September 29 can also choose the unsupervised government notification for anytime they wish to home educate for the remainder of the year. Families can choose to go back to supervised/funded with a school authority the next fall, or stay unsupervised. The form needs to be submitted to the government every year for each child. The government will assign the child an Alberta student number when they notify for the first time in Grade 1 or later grades. 

No submission form is required for Kindergarten, as registering for a Kindergarten program is voluntary in Alberta for both classroom and home education. The government will not solicit the child’s cumulative progress file. The file will start if a child registers under the supervision of a school authority or enrolls in school and will reside with the previous school until another school requests it.

Parents do not have to wait for approval or notification from the government in order to begin home educating under this program. It is a “notification” form and not an “application” form. Parents can pull their children from school at any time of the year and begin home education the day they send in the form through the mail or through mypass.ca.

Children can still obtain a high school diploma on this option. They can switch from an unsupervised program in Grades 1 to 9 to a Supervised Home Education program for Grades 10 to 12 and achieve the Alberta Programs of Study (APS) outcomes for marks and credits of high school courses under Section 6 of the Home Education Regulation. They can also register for school-provided classroom instruction or online high school for the courses they might want a certified teacher to instruct. The high school may issue tests to understand the child’s placement, but the parent and child can override suggested course placements and register for any high school course they choose.

If children want to go on to post-secondary education without an Alberta Education government diploma, they just need to present qualifications in five Grade 12 courses, and can obtain those course credentials by registering for and writing the Grade 12 Diploma exams. Registration for these exams can be done in mypass.ca. Once the student has written the exams, the marks comprise 100 percent of the final course marks that the student presents in post-secondary applications.

The notification form for unsupervised home education can be found here: albertahomeschooling.ca/articles/Notificationunsupervisedform.pdf

The advantages of choosing this route is non-interference from education stakeholders. It is  ideal for parents already familiar with home education, who don’t require reimbursement funding, and already possess the confidence that they can provide everything they need for their child’s learning environment.

The disadvantages of choosing this route is not having advocacy representation to the government from an accredited homeschool authority (such as a school or board) that understands the uniqueness of home education and self-directed (unschooling) learning. Under this option, the Executive Director of Field Services in Alberta Education has power to terminate the home education program. This can be problematic when a family is designated for investigation.

It's great to live in Alberta where families have so many education choices.

Judy is a certified brain and child development specialist and master of non-punitive parenting and education practices. She is the bestselling author of 5 print books translated into 5 languages, including Discipline Without Distress and Parenting With Patience. Her latest bestselling books are Unschooling To University and The Happy Homeschooling Handbook – Alberta, available at albertahomeschooling.ca. Visit Judy at professionalparenting.ca, judyarnall.com or at unschoolingtouniversity.com.

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