Congratulations! You are thinking about home educating one or more of your children. According to Alex Roslin, author of The New Homeschooling article in a recent issue of Today’s Parent magazine, the number of homeschooled children in Canada is around 70,000 children or about 2 per cent of the school-aged population. With the prevalence and tremendous growth of the popularity of online courses, which are not included in the statistics for home education, the trend of ‘home’ education is growing exponentially.
Now that you have made the decision, the first step is to register with a school board for help, guidance and supervision. You do not have to stay with your local school board and you can register with any of the other 20 non-resident school boards in the province that is willing to accept home education students. Most school boards offer Traditional and/or Blended/Aligned programs.
Step two is to decide what program the board offers that fits with your goals and education philosophy. If you are confident and want to do your own thing with minimal interference, and you don’t plan to follow the school curriculum or outcomes, you are best to register with a Traditional program. You will have full power to choose your resources, philosophy and if/what curriculum you may want to use. You will plan, deliver and evaluate your program. You are fully accountable to Alberta Education. You must meet with your school board twice per year, once in the fall to plan the year, and once in the spring to self-evaluate the year. Many self-directed students use this program because of its flexibility. The school board will not give marks or credits and will sign the certificate assuring that the child has met the Schedule of Learning Outcomes for Students Receiving Home Education Programs That Do Not Follow the Alberta Program of Study.
If you want to recreate school in the home and follow the Alberta Program of Studies pretty well as they do in school, using school curriculum, you might wish to consider online, face-to-face or correspondence courses on a Blended/Aligned program. A Blended program is anywhere from 50 per cent to 100 per cent school delivered with the remaining portion being parent delivered. If the Blended program is 100 per cent school delivered, it is called Aligned. The parent is not responsible to the government or the school board on an Aligned program. The school is totally responsible for planning, delivery and evaluation and, therefore, must follow the Alberta Program of Studies. A high school Blended program must be at least 20 per cent parent delivered.
Once you have chosen a school board, you need to choose resources. I would suggest that for the first year, while you are discovering what works for you and your child, you buy only a library card and an internet connection for all subjects. There are many good websites that offer free printable worksheets, videos and games for every Grade, interest and topic. The library also offers textbooks and workbooks (photocopy them, don’t write in them) for parents to try and if they don’t work for your family, you have spent no money.
Lastly, seek support. No one goes it alone and everyone needs an informal mentor or group to ask questions and seek support. Take it a year at a time and remember that the first year is mostly to discover who your children are as learners and how best to live and learn together as a family. As a homeschooling (unschooling) parent of five children (two of whom have graduated) for the past 12 years, I can’t begin to regale the tales of unfettered curiosity, learning, initiative, maturity, confidence, friendships and opportunities that homeschooling has created. I have not yet met even one parent who has regretted their decision.
There are two types of home education offered by Alberta Education: A Home Education Program or a Blended School/Home Education Program.
1. Home Education/Traditional: Parents may choose to educate their children at home, entirely or in part, provided they meet the requirements of the School Act and the Home Education Regulation.
The provincial government gives boards and accredited private schools a per-student grant for supervising home education students. Parents receive at least 50 per cent of this grant for the purchase of programs of study and instructional materials. Parents do not have to use the Alberta Programs of Study. A Home Education program will meet the Schedule of Learning Outcomes for Students Receiving Home Education Programs That Do Not Follow the Alberta Program of Study. They must ensure their children are receiving an education that meets provincial standards, but can choose curriculum, resources and teaching methods consistent with their beliefs.
Alberta Education Home Education Regulations:
Alberta Education Home Education Handbook:
2. Blended Programs/Aligned/Part-Time School: Parents may teach their children for part of their education program and have the school teach them for the rest of their instruction. With blended programs, parents may decide to teach the subjects they feel most capable of handling while the school teaches the rest. The school may use face-to-face classes, online or correspondence resources to teach their portion. The school must teach the student at least 50 per cent of the blended program in Grades 1 to 9 and at least 20 per cent in high school.
The school portion must follow The Alberta Program of Studies and the Home Education parent portion will follow the Schedule of Learning Outcomes for Students Receiving Home Education Programs That Do Not Follow the Alberta Program of Study.
School Act Rights and Regulations:
Reference: Alberta Education
School Boards (in alphabetical order) that Register Calgary and Area Home Education Students
Alberta Distance Learning Centre - www.adlc.ca. Only registers courses, not home education programs.
Argyll Centre - www.argyll.epsb.ca
Cbelearn - www.cbelearn.ca or www.calgaryhomeschooling.com
Centre for Learning at Home, Okotoks - www.centreforlearning.ca
Families Learning Together - www.familieslearningtogether.com
Golden Hills Learning Acedemy - www.goldenhillslearningacademy.com
Home Learning Connections - www.homelearningconnections.ca
Hope Christian School - www.hopechristianschool.ca
Phoenix Foundation - www.phoenixfoundation.ca
Rocky View Learning Connection - Airdrie, Chestermere, Cochrane - www.rvlc.rockyview.ab.ca
Roots - www.roots-homeschooling.com
School of Hope & Vermillion Homeschooling - www.schoolofhope.org
St. Anne Academic Centre - Calgary Catholic School Board - www.cssd.ab.ca
The Home Education Exchange - www.thee.ca
Wisdom Homeschooling - www.wisdomhomeschooling.com
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