The first thing every parent who calls me for information asks is whether it is really legal to homeschool in Ontario. My answer, of course, is affirmative. We are lucky to live in a democratic society where we do have choices in the ways we can ensure the future success of our children. To see the actual wording of the Education Act of Ontario, please, visit the Ontario Home Learners' legal page.
The next question usually is: How do we go about the teaching business? How can I qualify as my children's teacher without formal education as a teacher?
The answer to this is that learning is really a natural process. If you have managed to raise intelligent children, full of curiosity, before they reached school age, why couldn't you go on doing the same good job in nurturing their thirst for knowledge for many more years to come? The resources are easily available, books, manuals, libraries, not to speak of the inexhaustable material on the internet...
But how do I know what to teach? - comes the inevitable next question. And this is a ticklish little question... We, who were educated in structured environments, all have the preconceived notion that learning is something to be done to our kids, meted out in neat lessons, prodding them along, testing them on the way, etc. Most of us actually start our homeschooling journey doing just that. But we soon find out that there is so much more to home based education than just home "schooling".
Of course, there are families where they do set up "school rooms" with little desks and chalk board and they actually manage to successfully recreate a school setting. But they are just a small segment of the home based education experience. This ranges from the afore mentioned schoolrooms to the most unconventional unschoolers. The latter meaning those lucky children, whose parents allow them to expand their fields of interest whichever direction they desire. This, of course, needs a lot of confidence, a rich and nurturing environment, and very thick skin for the parents to withstand the negativity of "caring" relatives, friends and other meddlers...
At this point you probably fall somewhere closer to the insecure side... Therefor you are interested to know where our present educational guidelines like children to be at any given point. You will find the guidelines of the Ontario Ministry of Education, grade by grade, subject by subject, at their Curriculum and Policy page. You will find these to be a little vague, though.
Another good way to get an idea of what your children should know is to get a set of books, called the Core Knowledge Series. The individual books are "What Your Nth Grader Needs to Know" - one volume per grade. They contain a chapter dedicated to each subject, so well put together that some people actually use this series as their curriculum. They are available in both hard cover and paper back. You can also check out the webpages of the Core Knowledge Foundation, they have extra material, lesson plans, etc.
If you are still undecided, do a trial run during the summer.
But if you did decide to take the leap, you should visit the Ontario Government's Policy Memorandum on homeschoolers. You will find there the necessary forms that you are to send off to the Board of Education for withdrawing your child (this is, of course, unnecessary if your child has never been registered with the schoolboard). Then, you are also entitled to the following Certificate of Empowerment. :)
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