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International Homeschooling: Learning at Home in Canada

by David Engle | Mar 23, 2021 | 13 min read

 

Just like any other type of schooling, homeschooling is an international endeavor. Millions of families around the world have made the decision to take their child’s education into their own hands, especially during and in the wake of COVID-19. And, like the United States, every country has its own opinions, philosophies, and laws surrounding homeschooling.

In this monthly series, we’ll take a look at different countries around the world and how they view homeschooling as well as the types of laws (if any) those countries have to govern homeschooling. First up is the second-largest country in the world, northern neighbor to the United States–Canada!

While Canada may only trail Russia in square kilometers, its population is rather sparse in relation to its size (approximately 38.44 million people, compared to more than 145 million in Russia and over 330 million in the US). So, naturally, their homeschool numbers by population aren’t overwhelming. According to the Statistique Canada, just over 67,000 children were homeschooled in Canada during the 2021-22 school year; by comparison, between 4 million and 5 million children in the United States are homeschooled.

How to Homeschool in Canada

Homeschooling in Canada doesn’t differ much from homeschooling in most other countries. It’s widely accepted as a viable education option in Canada and is legal in every province, though each province has its own set of laws and recommendations to follow. We’ll take a brief look at each province’s guidelines here–but if you’re interested in homeschooling in Canada, it’s a good idea to take a deeper look at your home province’s regulations to ensure you’re in compliance. We’ve also provided resources for each province at the end of this article.

Bridgeway in Canada

Bridgeway Academy is the homeschool choice for many students in Canada! And just like we did for those students, Bridgeway can help your family choose the right program to fit your schedule and needs. We’re also aware of the country’s provincial requirements, so our team is ready to get you set up with the perfect homeschool program. You can download our free pdf about homeschooling with a U.S. based program and then contact our admissions team today at (800) 863-1474 to start your homeschool adventure.

Alberta

Overview: Home to the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta is Canada’s fourth-largest province by population. The province’s department of education (DOE) embraces the freedom to choose schools as a strength and touts the updated Home Education Regulation (2006) as a way to ensure homeschooling “continues to be a meaningful option for students and their parents.” Alberta is generally considered to have the widest selection of schooling options of any province in Canada.

Guidelines: 

  • Alberta’s DOE states that parents can educate their children if the program meets the requirements of the province’s regulations and is under the supervision of a board or an accredited private school.
  • Parents must notify the school of intent to homeschool by September 30 each year.
  • Those governing bodies will evaluate homeschooled students’ performance based on the education programs planned and provided by parents.
  • Additionally, a teacher from the associate school board or associate private school will visit homeschooling families twice a year to assess progress and review student work while also observing students as they perform learning tasks; the teachers will then share this information with parents.

Funding: Families receive $850 per homeschooled child (as of 2020) as reimbursement for purchased school materials, resources, and supplies each year upon notification to the school by September 30–this applies only to homeschool programs supervised by a school authority; unsupervised programs are not eligible for any funding.

British Columbia

Overview: British Columbia is the third-largest province in Canada by population, due largely to the beautiful city of Vancouver. While homeschooling overall grew in Canada, British Columbia seemed to be an outlier of this trend–at least until the pandemic. During the 2020-21 school year, BC recorded just over 5,500 homeschooled students, more than twice the amount of the previous school year. That number dipped a bit to around 4,500 homeschooled students in 2021-22, but that still represents nearly twice the growth pre-COVID.

Guidelines:

  • Parents must enroll their child in a public or independent school of their choice by September 30 of each year.
  • The school maintains contact with the family and offers evaluation and assessment services, plus instructional resources.
  • Conversely, homeschoolers in British Columbia are not required to be supervised by a teacher, meet provincial standards, or be subject to an inspection by the Ministry of Education.

Funding: The school accepting the homeschooled student receives a nominal fee.

Manitoba

Overview: Manitoba has experienced similar growth in its homeschooling population–the number reached its peak of just over 8,000 during the COVID school year, up from fewer than 3,700 the year before. Even post-COVID, Manitoba still has more than 6,100 homeschooled students in the province. The fifth-most-populated province in Canada takes home education quite seriously, and its Public School Act offers quite a few rules and regulations that must be followed as well as fairly strict oversight of any homeschool program. Manitoba’s government site is a great resource for information and answers to any questions you may have about homeschooling.

Parents are fully responsible for the costs associated with homeschooling (similar to the other provinces) as well as the resources and curriculum selected. Each homeschool program must include language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, and it is recommended that physical education and options such as arts (music, theater, visual arts, dance), foreign languages, and career development be included. If parents don’t feel they’re able to adequately teach certain types of subjects, they may arrange with the local school to have their child take classes through the school instead (upon agreement from the school).

Guidelines: According to the government’s education site…

  • A parent or guardian of a child who is a student in a homeschool must annually (by September) notify the minister of the establishment of the homeschool in an approved format, with the name and birth date of each student, the name of the school/school division the student would normally attend, and an outline of the education program and grade level.
  • The education program must be completed according to a Notification Form Template.
  • The parent or guardian is required to provide the minister with periodic progress reports for each student in January and June of each school year.
  • Each report is reviewed, processed, and filed by the school.

Funding: Manitoba offers no funding to parents for homeschooling.

New Brunswick

Overview: New Brunswick’s homeschooling rate more than doubled between 2019-20 and 2020-21, when 2,631 students were educated at home. The province has only lost a few hundred off that number since the pandemic. Homeschooling in New Brunswick is relatively straightforward. Under the province’s Education Act, however, a family wishing to homeschool must satisfy the requirements of “effective instruction elsewhere” if a child is not attending a brick-and-mortar school. This is summarized in the steps below.

Guidelines:

  • Ensure that homeschooling is right for your family. The province wants families to take all considerations into account before deciding to homeschool: finances, time, parenting skills, time-management skills, and a common vision. If this all meets a family’s needs, they should feel comfortable moving forward.
  • Apply for homeschool exemption. Parents/guardians must obtain an official exemption from attending public school for each year the child is homeschooled. This is done through the Annual Homeschooling Application Form submitted to the school district and reviewed by the minister of education.
  • Plan the homeschool curriculum. For curriculum to be considered “effective instruction,” all of the following subjects from the public school curriculum must be taught at home:
    • Language arts
    • Math
    • Science
    • Social Studies
    • Technology
    • Health
    • Career Development
    • French
    • Music
    • Art
    • Physical Education
  • Establish regular evaluations and record-keeping. Parents are responsible for evaluating their child’s development and recording progress throughout the year. This can be done through a portfolio of the child’s work, and curriculum should be adjusted accordingly. Homeschooled students can also participate in the province’s assessment programs by contacting the school district early in the school year.
  • Prepare for continuing education or employment. Students who complete their education at home are not eligible for a New Brunswick high school diploma. Parents are responsible for understanding the entrance requirements for any post-secondary institution.

Funding: New Brunswick offers no funding to parents for homeschooling.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Overview: For such a sparsely populated province with such low homeschool enrollment, Newfoundland and Labrador has a fairly significant list of requirements for homeschoolers. Let’s get right to them.

Guidelines:

  • Parents must apply to the local school district, and the application must be approved by the director of education.
  • A homeschooling coordinator will be designated to each family. The coordinator will ensure that a student record has been created and maintained, communicate with parents, and provide the student with a designation (succeeded/did not succeed) at the end of the school year.
  • Parents may choose provincial, national, or international curriculum from “reputable bodies of education” that have been approved by the EECD. If a parent chooses the provincial curriculum, the local school is obligated to provide course outlines, curriculum guides, and/or textbooks to homeschooled students.
  • During the first homeschooling year, parents/guardians must submit progress reports to the zoned school administrator in November, March, and June, unless the homeschooling coordinator indicates that the documentation should be submitted directly to him/her. It is also recommended that parents/guardians meet with the school administrator at the time that progress reports/work samples are submitted. Only two progress reports (January and June) are required in subsequent years.
  • High school diplomas are only awarded to homeschoolers who use the provincial curriculum. Those students should also take written final/public exams.

Funding: Newfoundland and Labrador offers no funding to parents for homeschooling.

Northwest Territories

Overview: This province, located in the upper northwest portion of Canada, covers approximately 500,000 square miles. Population? Around 45,000. Why? As beautiful as the Northwest Territories are, the climate isn’t the friendliest. While summers can be cool, winters are downright dangerous thanks to arctic and subarctic temperatures and weather. Thus, this province is not exactly a destination for many families settling down. That said, there are homeschooling families in the Northwest Territories, and they have rules to follow.

Guidelines:

  • Parents must register their child with the local school each year, though attendance isn’t required.
  • It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their homeschool program meets the curriculum standards set by the minister of education.
  • Parents must meet with and also provide progress reports to the school’s principal twice during the school year.
  • Homeschooling families may be provided access to school facilities when needed and by request.

Funding: While the Northwest Territories do not provide direct funding to homeschoolers, families who have registered and approved by September 30 of each year are eligible to claim nearly $4,000 per student each year in reimbursement. This includes costs for course registration, the courses themselves, materials, curriculum costs, and other items required to support the education program.

Nova Scotia

Overview: This province, home to miles upon miles of beautiful beaches and coastline, is a hospitable one toward homeschoolers. The Nova Scotia Department of Education outlines the requirements for homeschooling. Nova Scotia sits right around the middle in terms of population and percentage of children who homeschool in Canada.

Guidelines:

  • Parents are required to register their student each school year with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development by September 20. This can be done with a form, accompanied by a proposed education program.
  • There is no required curriculum, though guides are available on the Nova Scotia DOE’s website.
  • A progress report must be submitted for each student by June.
  • Students may enroll with their local school for a specific subject, during which time the child would be required to attend class and would be under the supervision of the school only during that class. Parents must enroll their child with the local school for a particular course by September 30.

Funding: Nova Scotia offers no funding to parents for homeschooling.

Nunavut

Overview: If you guessed that Nunavut was the largest province in Canada…I wouldn’t believe you. But it’s true! This northern province comprises approximately 20% of Canada’s total land mass–in fact, if Nunavut was its own country, it would be the 15th largest in the entire world. Must be a lot of people there then, right? Not exactly. Nunavut is Canada’s least-populated province, with fewer than 40,000 residents. The most common languages among them are Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English, and French. It’s a fascinating environment, as most of its land consists of islands in the Arctic Circle. You might be more likely to spot polar bears and narwhals than homeschoolers…but there are some in Nunavut. And there’s a Tim Horton’s too!

Guidelines:

  • Parents must register with their local school and provide an education program for review. The education review must meet curriculum standards as recommended by the minister of education. It also must be in accordance with Inuit principles and concepts of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.
  • District Education Authorities (DEA) are required to supervise any homeschool program.
  • High school students may register for one school-based course per semester at their local high school if the homeschooling parents are unable to teach that specific course.
  • Parents must provide progress reports to the school’s principal twice during the school year.

Funding: While Nunavut does not provide direct funding to homeschoolers, families who have registered and approved by September 30 of each year are eligible to claim $1,000 per student each year in reimbursement. This includes costs for distance education programs, materials, curriculum costs, and other items required to support the education program.

Ontario

Overview: Home to Toronto, Canada’s largest city, Ontario ranks second behind Alberta (as of 2022) in total number of homeschooled students. Though homeschooling has increased in Ontario in recent years, Canada’s most populous province maintains a low rate of homeschoolers vs. those in traditional schools. Compared to provinces such as Manitoba and New Brunswick, Ontario’s homeschool requirements are somewhat more casual.

Guidelines:

  • If your child is new to school in Ontario, there is no need to register through any government body if you plan on homeschooling. If, however, your child was previously a student within an Ontario school district, you must file a letter of intent to withdraw the child from school–this would be sent to both the school principal and the school board. While not required by law, it’s recommended that parents send this letter each year the child is homeschooled.
  • There are no actual requirements regarding grading, testing, or record-keeping to homeschool in Ontario. If you have a high school student, however, it’s advisable to start keeping a portfolio of samples and work, or whatever a potential university would typically require for admission.
  • Homeschoolers in Ontario are not required to follow any particular curriculum, use any particular materials, nor teach any particular subject. The general expectation is that the child’s education results in adequate literacy, math skill, and general knowledge and culture. How that is accomplished is up to each family.
  • There are no requirements as far as hours per day or per year a child must learn at home.

Funding: Ontario offers no funding to parents for homeschooling.

Prince Edward Island

Overview: One of the smaller provinces in Canada, Prince Edward Island saw a rather large increase in homeschooling between 2007 and 2014–68.5%! Granted, that’s a difference between 54 students in 2007 and 91 students in 2014. But considering the province’s population, it’s still an impressive rate. And during the COVID year, the homeschool population in PEI reached 555–and remained fairly steady in 2021-22 at 474. Similar to its much larger cousin, Ontario, PEI is fairly lax with its homeschooling rules and regulations.

Guidelines:

  • Parents must inform the minister of education of their intention to homeschool their child. They must also acknowledge their responsibilities when it comes to teaching their own child at home.
  • Parents are no longer required to provide a proposed homeschool program.
  • There are no curriculum requirements, though parents may request provincial curriculum books for a refundable $50 fee.
  • Graduating students will not receive a Prince Edward Island school diploma unless they actually graduate from a public school in the province.
  • If students want to enter/re-enter the public school system, the school board will determine the grade level placement.

Funding: Prince Edward Island offers no funding to parents for homeschooling.

Quebec

Overview: Home to major cities such as Montreal and Quebec City, the province of Quebec boasts the second-highest population in Canada. Yet its homeschooled students make up the smallest percentage of total students in the country at a miniscule 0.1% (as of 2014). Perhaps it’s because of the province’s somewhat stringent homeschool policies–that is to say, Quebec isn’t Ontario or Prince Edward Island when it comes to homeschooling. Several criteria must be met to homeschool children in the primarily French-speaking province, due in large part to a legislative act that was passed in 2017–prior to this legislation, school boards asserted the right to determine whether a homeschooled student was receiving an education “equivalent to what is provided at school.” This resulted in a very tenuous relationship between the school board and Quebec’s homeschool community. The 2017 changes relaxed the requirements a bit, assuming parents meet a list of conditions.

Guidelines:

  • Parents must notify the ministry of education and their local school board of the intent to homeschool by July 1 of each school year.
  • A “learning project” detailing the student’s studies for the year must be submitted by September 1.
  • A written status report/midterm report must be submitted halfway through the year.
  • Parents must attend a “monitoring meeting” with the ministry each year.
  • A completion report must be submitted by June 15 of each year.
  • Students’ progress must be evaluated through the learning project using one of five approved methods of evaluation:
    • A school board evaluation
    • A private school evaluation
    • A teacher evaluation
    • Ministry exams
    • Submission of a portfolio to the ministry
  • French, math, human development, and social studies are required studies.

While this is certainly a significant amount of work and oversight for parents and the ministry, it’s achieved its goal of normalizing and affirming homeschooling as a valid education option in Quebec–something that wasn’t the case just a few years ago. Furthermore, homeschooling families are provided free access to textbooks, teaching materials, professional services, and certain school facilities under some conditions.

Funding: Quebec offers no funding to parents for homeschooling.

Saskatchewan

Overview: One of Canada’s prairie provinces, Saskatchewan is large in area but not so much in population. Therefore it’s no real surprise that a fairly small number of children in the province are homeschooled. That said, in 2022, Saskatchewan owned the fourth-highest number of homeschooled students in Canada. The province’s homeschool regulations and requirements fall somewhere in between Ontario and Manitoba–a few conditions must be met, but parents are otherwise free to educate their children in the way they see fit and are responsible for the quality of education their children receive.

School divisions may also provide some helpful resources for homeschooling families, including:

  • Assessment for students with intensive needs
  • Driver education
  • Home-based learner assessments
  • Distance-learning opportunities
  • Access to learning resources
  • Support for earning secondary credit

Guidelines:

  • Parents must notify the board of education of their local school division to notify them of the intent to homeschool.
  • A written education plan must be submitted to the board of education and requires:
  • Philosophical approach and reason for homeschooling
  • Education activities, instruction methods, and learning resources the parents plan to use during the school year
  • Ways of assessing and recording the educational progress of each student
  • Areas of study and learning outcomes for each student

Funding: Each school division in Saskatchewan makes its own homeschool policies, including levels of funding. Check with your local school division to see if any funding is available.

Yukon Territory

Overview: Last but not least is the third-least populous province in Canada–the Yukon Territory. Despite (or perhaps because of) the limited number of homeschooled children in the province, the Yukon Territory offers a very collaborative partnership with homeschool families. Parents can choose to completely homeschool their child, or they can elect to cross-enroll with a local school for certain courses. All homeschooling parents must register their child with the Aurora Virtual School (AVS), which monitors and coordinates homeschooling with families.

As a partner, AVS staff helps parents set up an education plan, meet department requirements, select educational resources, cross-enroll at a local school (if desired), and help coordinate participation in school activities and/or sports. AVS also arranges for homeschoolers to borrow textbooks and equipment and provides access to the ERAC digital classroom.

Guidelines:

  • Parents must register with Aurora Virtual School.
  • Parents must submit a three-year education plan that details the teaching methods and resources that will be used for literacy and math instruction only.
  • There are no requirements for other subjects.
  • Students are required to take achievement testing and provincial exams.

Funding: Yukon Territory offers no funding to parents for homeschooling.

Now you know all there is to know about homeschooling in the Great North of Canada! For more information, please use the list of resources below and contact your local government. Stay tuned–we’ll be bringing you homeschooling info from another international location soon!

Resources:

David Engle
Hello, and thanks for reading! I’m David Engle--dad, husband, sports fan, and writer/editor. As a father for the last 18 years (father of two for the last 14), I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in all things related to education, childhood, and parenting, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share some insights and knowledge with fellow parents. I have been a professional writer and editor for a quarter of a century (it pains me to admit that) and have been writing in the educational space for a number of those years. I reside in southern New Jersey with my wife, two kids, two dogs, and three cats. Never a dull moment.
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