Many parents want their children to learn from home, but due to work, travel or other reasons, do not want to teach. We are lucky to live in Alberta where choice in education is enshrined in the Education Act and parents/caregivers have a lot of education delivery choices for each child in the family.
Here is a list of choices for Kindergarten through Grade 12, and a guide to help you choose the best one for your unique learner. Rest assured that a child can receive university and college admissions through all these choices.
This is what most people think of when they envision home education, but unique to Alberta, just because a parent has taken on responsibility for providing their child’s education, they don’t have to actually be doing the teaching. They can procure the teaching from pods, co-ops, non-government online courses such as Khan Academy, and a variety of learning experiences in the community offered by the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo, TELUS Spark, the Calgary Public Library, and various recreation centres.
Many parents “unschool” by empowering their child to learn through life experiences where relevancy increases learning motivation. This is the only option for supply and lesson reimbursement of $901 per child per year. Parents notify with a supportive home education school board that offers two facilitator support visits per year. Parents choose activities, resources and evaluation methods and do not have to give marks, nor follow the government’s Alberta Programs of Study. There is no testing unless the parent wants it.
This program is best for younger grades of Kindergarten to Grade 6, where children’s brains are wired to learn most effectively through physical experiences and in-person activities rather than through a screen. It is also recommended for high school home education children who wish to earn credits for a government diploma. New for this fall, supported and funded Home Education is now available for Kindergarten!
New this year is the option to notify directly with the government and forgo support, high school credits, and funding. All other benefits of the supported option are on this program. Parents just send the form into the government and are left alone for the rest of the year. This option is best for caregivers that have experience and confidence home educating using a variety of methods. Parents can outsource teaching, go travel, and use any resources they wish to provide their child’s education. They do not have to send anything in or meet up with a facilitator. Children gain post-secondary admission by challenging the Grade 12 diploma exams. They study for them using any resources they wish. Or, many students switch from unsupervised home education to classroom or online in order to begin earning high school credits.
This is school, but in your living room delivered through a screen. This is best when parents want to be completely hands-off, just as they would be if their child is in a school building classroom. The school is responsible for all delivery of the Alberta Programs of Study outcomes per grade. Parents make sure the child gets the assignments done, just like homework, and tolerate the messy parts in their home. This program is best for teenagers from Grade 7 and up who have more abstract theoretical thinking power, a greater attention span, and can manage the digital world on their own with little supervision.
This is also school delivered to your home, but with little teacher-child interaction. A big box of books are delivered to your door and it is up to your child to unpack them, organize the lessons and self-teach from the materials. It is correspondence-based education delivery and tutorial-style teaching – the teacher is available by phone or email if the child reaches out for help.
This type of program is best for independent and self-disciplined learners – ones who are motivated to get the assignments done without constant parental nagging. As the program relies on the student’s self-study, the student must be reading in order to understand instructions and assignments. It still requires parental supervision to break down schedules and adhere to them and help the child send in the assignments by the due date. This may have more freedom of due dates, but with that comes procrastination and worry.
If parents want flexibility, supported home education may be the best option where they control the assignments and due dates and activities. Not recommended for children younger than high school age. Even at junior high level, parents often must nag to get assignments done.
This option is best if parents want to take on a subject or two and leave the rest to the school to provide, or they just want to outsource one or two subjects to the school and they provide the rest. It is part supervised Home Education and part Distance Education.
Shared Responsibility programs are not available on unsupervised Home Education programs. Some school boards even offer in-person classes for their share of the subject teaching. It’s the beginning of the hybrid model of education where students can learn best in the format and delivery model that works for their temperament, interests, age and most of all, their learning style in each subject area. It utilizes the best that schools, community venues, co-ops, parents, and the online world have to offer.
This is best for Grade 7 and up where children are taking on more independent responsibility to learn and get assignments done, but in gradual allocation of responsibility. This is also best when parents do not wish to teach a certain subject or really want to cover a certain subject, but not the whole curriculum.
Regardless of the program you notify for, your child with special needs will have access to learning supports funded by the government and provided by AISCA and several service providers. This is fantastic in that the format of delivery of education will not exclude children of valuable and needed services for their special learning needs.
Remember, you only commit to a program for the year. Children grow in brain capacity, and you can change programs each summer for the new “school” year. You also have the option to put your child back into the classroom each fall, and you can pull your child out of the classroom or online school at any time to do unsupervised home education for the rest of the year. Enjoy the buffet of choices Alberta provides!
Judy is a certified brain and child development specialist and master of non-punitive parenting and education practices. She is the bestselling author of five print books, including Discipline Without Distress and Parenting With Patience. Her latest bestselling books are Unschooling To University and The Happy Homeschooling Handbook – Alberta, available at albertahomeschooling.ca. For education or parent consulting, visit Judy at professionalparenting.ca or judyarnall.com or at unschoolingtouniversity.com.
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