Know the laws for homeschooling your kids in Canada

Not everyone understands the laws that govern homeschooling because they differ in each Canadian province, but this overview can help demystify those laws.

Homeschooling in Canada is legal and acceptable, although most parents do not homeschool. Each province has established its own rules and laws regarding homeschooling, and some are far more favourable than others. Homeschooling is governed by regulation or by registration and the issuance of a permit in all provinces. Read on to learn the basic rules for some major provinces and gain an idea of their similarities and differences.

Know the laws for homeschooling your kids in Canada

British Columbia

According to the British Columbia Ministry of Education, the number of registered homeschool students in the province in 2005 was 3,068. Students can be registered, enrolled or take a combination of public and homeschool courses. Registration has some benefits, such as a stipend of $150-$250 per student annually and fewer government rules. Enrolled homeschoolers are viewed as online students by the government and are eligible for $1,000-$1,200 per school year. Enrolled status requires development of reviewable portfolios and adherence to BC Provincial Learning Outcomes; however, the child also receives a Dogwood Diploma upon graduation, which is not an option with registered homeschoolers. A child must be registered by September 30th to qualify for funding.

Manitoba

Homeschooled children in Manitoba are required to be registered with Manitoba's Department of Education, Citizenship and Youth. Manitoba issues permits to homeschools, but they have few rules. Parents must notify the government by September 1st or within 30 days of forming a homeschool. Parents must submit twice yearly progress reports.

Alberta

Homeschooling in Alberta is legal but must operate under certain regulations. Alberta does reimburse parents for homeschooling resources, but children must be registered by September 30th to qualify. Homeschooling is organized into the categories of Basic, Blended and Fully Aligned. The basic (or traditional) designation requires adherence to BC Provincial Learning Outcomes and registration by September 30th. Blended means the parent is the teacher of a basic or traditional school curriculum and chooses to follow the Program of Studies approved by Alberta for particular classes. Fully Aligned means the homeschool follows the approved Program of Studies for all subjects taught.

Quebec

Permits are issued to qualifying homeschools in Quebec. However, the only law governing homeschooling in the province is that if children do not attend public school, they must receive a homeschool education that, according to a review by the appropriate school board, equals a public education. Review by the school board is said to be a tough hurdle by many homeschool leaders, as their definition of what equals a public education may vastly differ from the parent's view.

Other provinces

Newfoundland and New Brunswick issue permits to qualified homeschools. In the Northwest Territories, governance of homeschools is by regulation. Nova Scotia homeschools are legal when they meet regulating conditions. Various regulations govern the homeschools in Ontario and Prince Edward Island. Homeschools receive permits in Saskatchewan, and in Yukon, homeschools may operate subject to certain regulations.
In general, universities accept homeschoolers on an individual basis, and higher education is as attainable as for those with a public education. As evidenced, some of the provinces are easier for homeschools than others; some pay greater funds to homeschool students; and still others make it more difficult for parents to homeschool. A careful review of regulations prior to forming a homeschool will ensure a happier outcome for all.

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