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Frequently asked questions about Homeschooling

Reproduced with permission from HSLDA.

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Many parents commit to educating their children at home. Their underlying motivation is the conviction that this is best for the moral and spiritual development of their family, and it is the best way to provide a solid education for their children. They are concerned for the spiritual and character development as well as the social and academic welfare of their children.

Specific advantages have been expressed as follows:

The courts have declared the public system of education in Canada to be purely secular. there is no room for religious instruction, and in particular Christian instruction, in government schools. However, parents continue to have the right to direct the education of their children on their own, including religious training, if they so desire. That right is safeguarded by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and protected by the courts.

As parents, our influence on our children is both substantial and long lasting. Unfortunately, when bonds develop in an insecure manner, that too has a substantial and long lasting negative impact on the child … parents are the most effective care givers for their children.

 National Foundation for Family Research and Education, 1996

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You know your children better than anyone and have the deepest love and concern for them. You also have the most direct and long-term responsibility for your children.

Educationally, one-to-one tutoring of a child has many advantages over the typical classroom where one teacher tries to meet the needs of many children at different learning levels.

Your example and enthusiasm in learning with your children will motivate and encourage them far more than striving to appear as if you know it all. You do not need to know everything in order to teach.

Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, conducted a nationwide study of home education in Canada involving more that 800 families with 2,800 children. He found these home educated children scored at or above the 76th percentile in all subject areas. (The national average of all conventionally schooled children is the 50th percentile.)

Dr. Ray says, “The tutorial method has always been the superior method for educating children. Home schooling epitomizes this method, providing the essentials for success – a close relationship between the student and teacher, motivation, flexibility, and individualization.”

Several resources are available to give you on-the-job training:

Education in the true sense, of course, is an enablement to serve both the living human community in its natural household or neighborhood … to educate is, literally to “bring up” to bring young people to a responsible maturity … it must be used where one lives, where one intends to continue to live; it must be brought home.

 Wendall Berry

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Yes. Each province sets its own laws governing home education. Meeting the requirements of these laws may be as simple as informing the school district or department of education of your intent to homeschool or as complex as having your children tested and fulfilling detailed requirements of provincial regulations. Legislation is continually being proposed and considered in provinces. It is important for you to work with your provincial and local homeschool organizations to aid the passage of favorable legislation and regulations which guarantee parental rights and maximize freedom to home educate.

The freedom of conscience and religion and the right to liberty under section 2(a) and section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees a parent’s right to educate their children according to the parents’ religious convictions.

In Canada, parents enjoy a fundamental constitutional right to educate their children in the religion of their choice. The Supreme Court of Canada has recently reaffirmed the statement of Mr. Justice LaForest:

“… I would have thought it plain that the right to nurture a child, to care for its development, and to make decision for it in fundamental matters such as medical care, are part of the liberty interest of a parent.”

“The common law has long recognized that parents are in the best position to take care of their children and make all the decisions necessary to ensure their well being.”

“This only serves to confirm that the parental interest in bringing up, nurturing, and caring for a child, including medical care and moral upbringing, is an individual interest of fundamental importance to our society.”

“… our society is far from having repudiated the privileged role parents exercise in the upbringing of their children. This role translates into a protected sphere of parental decision making which is coated in the presumption that parents should make important decisions affecting their children, both because parents are more likely to appreciate the best interests of their children and because the state is ill equipped to make such decisions itself. Moreover, individuals have a deep personal interest as parents in fostering the growth of their children.”

“… we must accept that parents can, at times, make decisions contrary to their children’s wishes – and rights – as long as they do not exceed the threshold dictated by public policy, in its broad conception. For instance, it would be difficult to deny that a parent can dictate to his or her child the place where he or she will live, or which school he or she will attend.”

It is important to obtain a copy of your province’s law pertaining to home education. You can avoid many problems and concerns by being accurately informed and by using tact and respect in dealing with school authorities. For prepaid legal defence and assistance, contact Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada. To qualify for membership, apply before you are contacted by any authorities regarding school attendance laws. HSLDA offers a free summary of your province’s home school law.

The goal of HSLDA of Canada is to give every parent who wants to homeschool the necessary confidence to start and continue homeschooling with maximum freedom and minimal government interference.
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Homeschooling requires a time commitment, although not as much as you might expect. One-to-one tutoring is more efficient than classroom instruction and therefore, requires less time.

The time requirement varies according to the methods used, the ages of the children and the number of children in the family. Daily academic instruction might begin with one-half to one hour for the early grades and work up to a few hours of instruction plus independent study for upper grades.

Most correspondence courses state that their work can be completed in four or five hours per day.

1893: In Ontario the literacy rate was “90.5 percent of the general population, 94.22 percent for those between 10 and 20 years of age.”


1990: The reading skills of 16% (2.9 million) of Canada’s adults are too limited to allow them to deal with the majority of written material encountered in every day life. A further 22% (4.0 million) of Canadian adults can use reading material to carry out simple reading tasks within familiar contexts with materials that are clearly laid out. However, this group does not have sufficient skills to cope with more complex reading contexts.

Statistics Canada, Survey of Literacy Skills

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Subjects such as, science, history, Bible and literature that are not necessarily dependent on prerequisite knowledge or skills can be taught to several grade levels together.

Lessons can be presented in an amplified manner with explanations to enable children in all grade levels to understand. Older students can do much of their work independently and can also help teach younger children.
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This is perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of homeschooling. It is the positive aspects of socialization through the home that attract many families to this lifestyle.

Popular opinion assumes that children need periods of interaction with a group of peers to acquire social skills. By contrast however, many believe that extensive peer contact during childhood can cause undesirable and negative peer dependency.

Young children are more likely to be influenced by the majority than to be independent and an example to others. Children who receive their education outside the home are prone to accept their peers’ and teachers’ values over those of their parents. Dr. Bronfenbrenner of Cornell university found that children who spend more time with their peers than with their parents generally become dependant on those peers and parental influence is quickly lost.

Some advantages of freedom from peer pressure can be self-confidence, independent thinking, the ability to relate to people of all ages, and better family relationships.

Moral principles of interaction can be taught, demonstrated and reinforced at home by parents. Children can learn needed social skills by interaction with siblings or other children and adults under their parent’ supervision. Yong people who have had this type of training have adjusted very well to adult life.

You can help your children build and maintain lasting friendships with people of all ages through church and family friends.

Dr. Brain Ray reports that numerous studies have found that home educated children are as well adjusted socially and emotionally as student in conventional school, or better.

Andrew Nikiforuk stated in Chatelaine magazine (March, 1994) that given the strong emphasis homeschoolers place on character development, the argument that children schooled at home are brought up in a bubble and can’t cope in the real world just doesn’t hold.

Author Ray E. Ballmann states that homeschoolers on average score higher than their conventionally schooled peers in tests that measure both self-concept and sociability. A young child learns good sociability primarily by watching and mirroring. Do you want your child to model after you or after his peers, after his teacher at school or his teacher at home? What kind of socialization do you want for your child, positive or negative?
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A wealth of experiences outside the home can supplement and enrich home education. Unlimited possibilities abound for field trips that individual families or groups can take. these provide valuable in-the-field learning laboratories.

Specialized classes are often available through parks, museums, art school or private lessons. Church and community teams offer various sports opportunities.

There is actually more time and opportunity available for enrichment activities for home taught students than for those in conventional schools.
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Several institutions throughout North America have welcomed home-educated student. “Many of these schools actively recruit home-educated graduates because of
their maturity, independent thinking skills, creativity, and extensive academic preparation,” says Inge Cannon, executive director of Education PLUS.

In preparation for university or college entrance or any vocational training program, parents should prepare a thorough transcript of high school level work, award a diploma, and specify and actual high school graduation date. Occasionally GED tests may be required by a college or employer for additional verification. Some provincial homeschool associations are officially hosting graduation ceremonies for high school graduates.

Some homeschoolers are entering their chosen fields through apprenticeship programs designed and supervised by parents and professionals.
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Fine materials developed for Christian and private schools are available to home educators. With the huge growth of the homeschool movement new materials are also being developed or adapted especially for use in home teaching.

These materials may be obtained in several basic ways:

Home educators can choose or combine elements of any of the following approaches:

Traditional Textbooks. High quality textbooks are available from publishers. These cover each subject in depth and in a logical order of topics.

Worktexts. Some publishers have combined textbook information with exercises in consumable write-in books.

Classical Approach. Children progress from memory and learning skills to advance reasoning and finally expressive use of language to discuss their knowledge and beliefs. This is fast becoming the most popular trend in home education.

Unit Studies. Theme centered units integrate information from several subjects. Language art and math need additional systematic teaching.

Books & Life Experiences. Other than basic teaching in the three R’s, much learning comes through reading good literature and nonfiction. Normal everyday activities also supplement book-learning and give it perspective.

Children (in the 19th Century) learned practical skills from parents, older siblings and relatives. In this context, age groups intermingled in both work and play … most children learned at home within the framework of the family unit.

The Family: Changing Trends in Canada

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There is no “one right way” to homeschool. There is no one right method or curriculum.

As an artist has at his disposal an entire palette of colors to mix and use, so a home educator has a vast army of effective methods from which to choose.

These choices may be based on:

The variety of methods is endless. As you choose and mix them, your homeschool will become a unique work of art.
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Many children with special needs are being successfully home educated. Membership in HSLDA of Canada provides parents with access to research and information, which can assist and encourage those parents with special needs children to homeschool.
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The following are common difficulties and suggested solutions.

Lack of Confidence: At first, you may lack confidence in choosing materials and methods, and in your ability to teach. With experience, you will gain confidence. Find a homeschool support group so you can interact with experienced homeschool families.

Fear of Being Unable To Work With Your Own Children: Parents who do not have their children’s respect will have trouble getting their cooperation. Gaining their respect through proper discipline, training and example should be the parents’ top priority, whether or not they are homeschooling. Often discipline problems come from exposure to negative attitudes learned from negative peer pressure. Homeschooling can provide the incentive and optimum setting to overcome this.

Inadequate Time and Energy: Home teaching requires an investment of time and energy, especially by mothers. Self-discipline and good organization will help ensure a well run household. A daily schedule, lesson plans and a chore list can keep school and housework organized. Well trained children will give back to you by helping with practical life skills like cooking, laundry and household chores.

Lack of Commitment: Families who are homeschooling only for convenience or because it is a popular thing to do may soon drop out unless they develop the conviction that homeschooling is best for their family.

Social Pressure: Pressure from well-meaning friends or relatives can be a real deterrent. Make a well-informed decision and then stand on your convictions. More information and a loving attitude often help others understand and accept your decision to homeschool.

Financial Investment: Costs of materials or programs vary considerable, but are always less expensive than a private school. Many materials can be reused for siblings as well.
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Mike Farris, one of North America’s home schooling pioneers predicts that the return to classical education in terms of curriculum content will increase dramatically. High tech lessons in classical languages and great books are on-line today and Farris projects that “easy to use” programs will emerge on the market. The number one rule of home education curriculum will be “Is it easy for mom to use?” Other trends according to Farris include apprenticeship in lieu of university training and increased involvement in the political process on behalf of home schooling families.
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Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights