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Whether you are considering homeschooling or are in the process of getting started, you may be asking yourself, how does homeschooling work? This page will provide you with important information on homeschooling in Ontario.
The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. Article 26: Right to Education states in Part 3, “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children."
In Ontario, there are some legal requirements that have been put in place to ensure all children receive a satisfactory education. Though your relationship with your local board will be different than if your child were attending a funded school, you will still have some interaction with them. By following some basic guidelines you can have a positive relationship with your local board.
In Ontario, home educators are to submit a letter of intent to their local school board to homeschool their children. A letter of intent provides basic statistical information about the homeschooled student as well as the contact information of the family. Submitting this form is only a legal requirement if your student has attended a funded school before being homeschooled. However, even if it’s not a legal requirement for your situation, it is a courtesy. Be sure to keep a copy of these forms in your records for reference. You may also wish to send a copy of the letter to the local school's principal to ensure it is communicated to all necessary parties. This letter of intent should be sent to the local school board each year.
You have the right to homeschool in Ontario. However, provincial school boards also have the duty of ensuring that every child in their jurisdiction receives their right to an education. These conflicting rights/duties can result in challenges for families who choose to homeschool. Therefore, it is best to ensure you have the legal protection you need by being a member of a recognized homeschool legal support group. There are multiple legal support groups for you to choose from: the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents, the Ontario Christian Home Educators’ Connection, and the Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada.
There are many different ways to approach education, so never be afraid to use a variety of styles and take note of the ones that work best for your student. Different approaches allow students to build knowledge in different ways. Remember to record what you teach, in what way, how successful you felt the experience was, and then reflect on what processes work best for you and your family. Document as much as you can about your student’s progress and your approaches to best support your developing practice.
One challenge homeschoolers experience is finding and building a curriculum with the best resources to support your educational beliefs and goals. As an Ontario homeschooler you may want to reference Ontario curriculum documents to help complete the design of your homeschool program that includes a full range of course content in the areas of math, language arts (English, French, and Native Languages), the arts (dance, drama, music, and visual arts), health and physical education, science, social studies, history, and geography.
The structure and activities you do each day are up to you. You have the ability to move as quickly or as slowly as you like through concepts or skills depending on how your student progresses. Each day you get to design and present the knowledge that is important to you and your learner.
Virtual Elementary School (VES) is an online course provider in the core areas of English (language), math, and science. Our safe, online learning environment supports learners through engaging content, aligned with the Ontario curriculum, while helping them to develop 21st century skills. VES courses can easily be used with other content resources to build out your homeschool curriculum.
Each VES course includes:
VES also offers the ability for you to add qualified teacher support by signing up for Facilitated courses. Your teacher will:
For a sample of the outstanding content VES offers, please review our Demo Courses. If you have any questions about selecting VES as your homeschooling resource, please contact VES Coordinator Rebecca Merner at Rebecca.Merner@VirtualElementarySchool.com.
Grade level and age do not always exactly align. When selecting content levels, you may want to read the learning goals of the program before purchasing. If you know your student already has attained most of the learning goals, then the program may be too basic. If you think they do not have the fundamental skills to reach the goals, it may be too advanced. Ontario students usually follow this type of grade level-age pattern:
|Grade Level||Age (years)|
Only some home educators are legally required to submit a letter of intent. It is a legal requirement if you choose to remove your child from a publicly funded school. Otherwise this is not a legal obligation, though still recommended. Each school year that you plan to homeschool, you should submit your letter of intent prior to September 1st.
If you choose to not submit a letter of intent, you may increase your chances of a school board investigation. School boards have the duty to ensure all students receive their right to education. If they are not notified, they have “reasonable grounds” to believe that the student might not be receiving “satisfactory instruction” and can choose to investigate you homeschool practice.
Homeschool legal support groups are invested in protecting your right to homeschool. If an investigation into your homeschool practices were launched, a legal support group representative can be present for home visits to ensure that your rights are upheld.
A school board can launch an investigation into your homeschool practices if they have reasonable grounds to believe the student is not receiving satisfactory instruction. School boards can only launch an investigation in the following situations:
Legal support can be present during an investigation to ensure the school board investigator follows the legal guidelines found in Policy/Program Memorandum No. 131 (PPM 131). PPM131 is the policy that outlines the measures the school board can/must take when looking to refuse the rights of a homeschool family. PPM 131 is a key document that protects homeschooler rights, especially in cases when school boards look to refuse your right to homeschool, or investigate your homeschooling practices.
To determine if the quality of instruction is satisfactory, the school board can request to see:
If the board chooses to have an official meeting with your family, the following questions and requests can be made:
A lot of planning goes into being a home educator. All this planning and hard work is very valuable if an investigation were ever to occur.