Monday, April 2, 2012

Homeschooling in Ontario

I was asked by The Canadian Homeschooler to write a blog post about starting homeschooling in my province.

Here in Ontario we're pretty lucky to live in a no reporting area. We need to provide a letter of intent to homeschool to our local school board and that's about it!

If you are pulling your child from public school, you must do this so your child isn't considered truant. You do not need to send a copy of the letter to your child's principal, but it is generally considered to be a common courtesy. If you are homeschooling from the start, it's not completely necessary to do this unless you are "discovered" by the local board, but people often do file the letter of intent just to cover all bases. In my case, I pulled my daughter Brianna from public school, so send a letter of intent each year. For my younger daughter Olivia, who will never be in the public school system, I will just add her to Brianna's letter of intent when the time comes (6 years old in Ontario).

Some school boards will try to tell you that you have to inform them of curriculum plans or do testing. This is not true. In Ontario there are no laws for homeschoolers that require you to submit curriculum plans, text book lists or reading lists. There are also no required testings in Ontario. You do not need to have approval to teach what you wish to you child.

You do have the legal option for your children to take the EQAO in grades 3, 6 and 9 and the Literacy test in Gr. 10, but they are not required. If you choose to have your children take these tests simply notify your child's old school (or in the case of homeschooling from the beginning or due to school closure, a nearby school) the year your child will need to take the test (the earlier the better) and the school is required to provide your child with space to take the test. The results will be returned to the school the test was taken at and the school is then to forward the results to you.

If you'd like, the Ministry of Education has the general Ontario curriculum on their website, Elementary and Secondary and also the French Language Education. You can closely or loosely follow this curriculum. Some parents choose to do this so their children will stay at the same level as their classmates in the case that they would have to be re-integrated into the public system.

Other parents choose other methods of homeschooling that have nothing to do with the Ministry of Education's planned curriculum. These are all perfectly legal for parents to do. If there was a point in time that you had no choice but to place you child back in public school, the school would simply administer a placement test to verify learning levels.

 The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents is the best resource for parents new to homeschooling. It give a breakdown of the laws and provides parents with blank letters of intent that they can fill out and mail to provided school board addresses. The site also provides a list of homeschooling groups by area. You can use the information on their site for free and/or become a member of the OFPT for a small fee.

Some people will make out homeschooling to be difficult. In some ways it is, but at least in Ontario you don't have the added problems of cutting through miles of red tape from the government.

ETA - Here is the link for the post on The Canadian Homeschooler

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