Homeschooling in Alberta
Whether you have always wanted to homeschool, or the anxiety around what school will look like this year has you considering it, the process can feel extremely overwhelming. When we decided to homeschool our children over 6 years ago, I remember feeling incredibly stressed. I didn’t know how to begin or which board I wanted to register with. I also had the idea in the back of my mind that I would somehow screw up the kids and their education. This was coupled with the people around us questioning whether we were capable of providing an education for our children. Looking back, I can promise you, you will not screw up your children and you are more than capable!
So how do you go about homeschooling in Alberta?
- What path of instruction would you like to choose? Home education (parent-directed), shared responsibility or distance learning.
Home education is when the parent has full control over their child’s education. They can choose their own curriculum (or lack of curriculum), decide what to teach and when, and will follow the 22 Home Education Learning Outcomes. With parent controlled, you also have the option to follow Alberta’s Program of Studies, but many choose the broader 22 outcomes and follow their child’s interests. Funding is available through this option and includes $850/child/year for homeschool related expenses as long as you register by September 30th. You will have 2 visits per year (fall and spring) by a certified teacher (who are often homeschoolers themselves). These visits are one of our favorite parts about homeschooling. My children love their facilitator and how encourging she is.
Shared responsibility is when your child’s education needs are split into percentages between yourself and a teacher. A certified teacher will teach the subjects you choose, and the rest will be the parent’s responsibility. Funding is much less and depends on what percentage the parent is teaching. Depending on the grade level, there may be a mandatory teacher taught percentage.
Distance education is 100% school delivery at home. The school authority has full control of what is taught and when. The Alberta Program of Studies is followed with this method, and there is no funding.
- Find a willing non-resident school board/associate board (or you can stay with your school board and notify them of your choice to homeschool if they are willing)
In Alberta, children who are 6 by September 1, must be registered in a school. This includes homeschool as well! There are many amazing school boards to choose from and the majority of them support parent-controlled homeschooling. This also means they will be supportive of your own homeschooling philosophies whether that is using fully aligned curriculum, or unschooling and child-led learning. After you’ve decided on which path of education you would like to pursue, find a willing school board that provides that option.
A few of the more popular school boards are listed below (you do not need to reside in the city of which your homeschool board resides):
Centre for Learning
By Design- Summit West
- Register with your chosen board
When I first began this journey, it took me months to decide on a board. When I had finally decided, registering became the easy part. The good news is each year you must reregister so it is only a one year commitment if you decide the one you chose isn’t right for your family. Everyone should feel supported and your 2 facilitator meetings should leave you feeling empowered and proud of all you’ve accomplished. Although many homeschool boards have no plan to cap enrollment this year, registering early helps them prepare for the coming year and guarantees your spot in case an even larger influx begins pouring in.
- Create your education program plan and choose curriculum (if using)
In my first year, I made this part much harder than it had to be. I ended up writing out a completely detailed program plan, and while it absolutely sufficed, I didn’t need to stress so much. Your assigned facilitator will help you fill it out and can even give you suggestions on which curriculums (and outlines) may work best for your family. Every family is different, and your EPP is a living document that can change at any time. We personally follow a curriculum for math and English, but for science and social studies we do interest based which changes frequently. We update our program plan whenever we see fit. Keeping it updated also helps with reimbursement for your funding claims.
As far as curriculum goes, we are in a time where there is an abundance to choose from. There are so many amazing curriculums which makes it difficult to decide which ones you will like. If you can, join local homeschool groups and ask if others have used the particular one you are interested in. Some stores will have samples for you to look at as well. I have become somewhat addicted to curriculums and have bought WAY too many over the years. Most never even got used! My biggest advice is to start inexpensive until you find your learning style. The majority of curriculum I’ve seen is fantastic, it just depends on what you want out of it. You also do not need to use any curriculum. Children are naturally curious and especially for elementary age, it is fun to follow their interests. There will be a post on our personal favorite curriculums coming soon!
This year there seems to be no easy or right answer to what parents should decide. If homeschooling is the right choice for your family, know that the Alberta homeschooling community has your back!