Thinking about homeschooling? We've done some homework to help you get started.
It’s now fall. And although the school year has begun, you are tinkering with the idea of homeschooling your child this year. Veteran homeschoolers equate the decision with “stepping off the edge of a cliff and hoping your wings will fly.” It’s a momentous decision that can be very unnerving in the face of uncertainty and lack of familial and societal support, even though home education is growing at a rate of 2.5 per cent a year.
In your heart, you know that this is a viable option for your child, but where do you start and what do you do first? Read books on home education and talk to home education families. Reasons to homeschool vary with each family, but the major ones are: to instill values and morals; to spend more time together as a family. Or perhaps the child is not doing well in a classroom setting; or the desire is for more flexibility in learning topics and pace. And lastly, there is a desire for socialization free from bullying.
There are various homeschooling styles, methods and philosophies; and each family develops those over time for their own particular family. You can find families through word of mouth or look around at public venues. You will see many parents out with school-aged children during the day. Ask them if you could email or phone them for further information. Most homeschooling families love to share their information and experiences. There are many myths, stereotypes and inaccuracies regarding homeschooling, and educating yourself will provide you with confidence and assurance that you are doing the right thing for your family. Register with a supervising school board. All homeschooling families must do this by law. You do not have to get permission, forms, or anything from your present school board. A phone call notifying the principal that you are withdrawing your child from the school is the only obligation you have to fulfill. The new school board or department that you register with will secure your child’s academic records from the old school board and provide you with the appropriate Alberta Education forms.
Calgary Board of Education, one of the largest school boards in the province, offers a home education program for students. But there are also many non-resident city school boards that have been supporting homeschooling families for decades. Most boards offer similar programs, funding, resources, and support; and according to veteran homeschoolers, the real difference is in how you mesh with your immediate facilitator that is assigned to support your family. That facilitator must support your goals, philosophies, and methods; otherwise, ask for another person to be assigned to you. This is your right!
Be sure to register with a school board by September 30 to qualify for Alberta government funding. It’s nice to have books, curriculum, games, crafts and passes to the city’s amenities reimbursed to you. Remember that if you miss the deadline, you can still pull your child out to register and homeschool any time throughout the school year. You just won’t get funding for the 2007/2008 school year.Sign up with a support group and find your community. Many of the supervising school boards have their own parent support group where you can contact other parents to exchange tips, successes, worries, ideas and strategies. Ask your homeschooling family contacts about where they go for support, classes and socializing.
Many support groups meet during the evening to accommodate work-outside-the-home parents. Many groups are online groups that are very helpful in answering questions.Lastly, take time to de-school and relax. Enjoy the beautiful weather of the fall months and what the local parks, social groups and school boards have to offer families in learning and social activities. Don’t rush into buying too much curriculum that won’t suit your child, or signing up for too many outside classes. First-time homeschoolers tend to go overboard on both accounts! Take the time to observe your child at play and see how they learn best. Find a routine that works for your family.Homeschooling is a viable option for thousands of Alberta families, and the choices today are ever greater than before: traditional, blended, online, part-time classes, unschooling, Montessori, classical, or a mix of all.
As homeschooling becomes even more popular, there are plenty of resources, support, encouragement and help for families in Alberta. You and your child will love those wings and soon will be enjoying the flight!
• The Homeschoolers Guide - homeschoolersguide.ca
• Life Learning - lifelearningmagazine.com
School Boards (in alphabetical order) that Register Calgary and Area Home Education Students
• Argyll Centre: argyll.epsb.ca
• Cbelearn: cbelearn.ca or calgaryhomeschooling.com
• Centre for Learning at Home, Okotoks: centreforlearning.ca
• Community Connections: homeeducation.ca
• Roots: roots-homeschooling.com
• School of Hope – Vermillion: schoolofhope.org
• The Home Education Exchange: thee.ca
• Wisdom: wisdomhomeschooling.com
Find Your Community
(for homeschooling high school)
(for buying used supplies)
(for homeschooling preschoolers)
(for homeschooling special needs children)
(the general homeschooling group)
Books about Homeschooling:
• And the Skylark Sings With Me: Adventures in Homeschooling and Community-Based Education
by David Albert
• In Their Own Way: Discovering & Encouraging Your Child's Personal Learning Style; The Myth of the A.D.D. Child; 7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying & Developing Your Multiple Intelligences by Thomas Armstrong
• Homeschooling For Excellence by David and Micki Colfax
• The Homeschooling Book of Answers: The Most Important Questions Answered by Homeschooling’s Most Respected Voices by Linda Dobson
• Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
• The Homeschooling Handbook - The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child's Classroom by Mary Griffith
• Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense by David Guterson
• How Children Fail; How Children Learn; Learning All The Time Teach Your Own by John Holt
• Learning At Home: A Mother's Guide to Homeschooling by Marty Lane
• The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School & Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn
• School Can Wait; The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook by Raymond & Dorothy Moore
• The Complete Home Learning Source Book: The Essential Resource Guide for Homeschoolers, Parents, and Educators Covering Every Subject from Arithmetic to Zoology; Getting Started on Home Learning: How and Why to Teach Your Kids at Home by Rebecca Rupp
• Child's Work: Taking Children's Choices Seriously by Nancy Wallace
Judy is a Parent Educator, Mom of five homeschoolers and author of Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery. For more information visit professionalparenting.ca
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