10 Simple Steps to Begin Homeschooling
Step 1 Attend a "Homeschooling 101" class or webinar. Be sure it is not sponsored by a school board, or school so that you will enjoy an unbiased overview of the Alberta education system and your rights and responsibilities.
Or, order The Happy Homeschooling Handbook
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Step 2 Find a school or board to register with. A listing of possible boards/schools is below. Go to their open houses and information sessions held from March to June and see what are their unique rules, requirements and responsibilities are. They vary with each organization and may not necessarily be Alberta Education requirements.
Step 3 Explore what is your teaching/learning philosophy. Do you believe in rote learning, discovery learning or experiential learning? Do you think children learn on their own, or need direct teaching? Do you embrace the Waldorf, Montessori, Classical, or Child-led philosophy of education? Is your parenting style authoritarian or more relaxed? Is your child a visual or hands-on learner? You know best what works for you and your family.
You do not have to follow the Alberta Program of Studies or use Alberta Education curriculum. Below are the outcomes that you must cover by the time your child turns 20:
Step 4 Decide on the program you wish to register for. There are only 3 choices:
Home Education This is Parent-Directed (Parent-controlled)homeschooling and is also called "Traditional."
Shared Responsibility (Formerly called Blended) This is a program that is divided into 1/2 Parent-controlled on some subjects and 1/2 School-controlled on other subjects. The percentage can be 20/80 in high school with either the parent or the school teaching a minimum of 20 percent. In grades 1-9 the parent controls half the program with home education (teaching whatever they want) and delegates half the program to the school to directly teach the Alberta Programs of Study (APS) through online, paper-based or classroom instruction. The parent can choose what subjects they would like to teach and which subjects they would like the school to teach.
Distance Education which is School-controlled. There is no "aligned" program according to Alberta Education. When the school boards use the term "aligned" or "teacher-directed" they mean it is school provided education based in the home but controlled, taught, supervised and delivered by certified teachers from the school. It is not home education.
School-based-at-home is also called Virtual School, Teacher-directed, Paper-based, Distance Learning, Distributed Learning, and Online Learning. The Alberta Programs of Study encompasses approximately 1400 outcomes per grade over 7 subjects of English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Health, Art, and Physical Education. How the school teaches those outcomes depends on which methods (screen text, videos, textbook readings, live collaborative classes, phone instruction) and materials the schools choose. The parents have no input into choice of materials as they must be Alberta Education approved.
If you choose distance education, your child will have a teacher that marks their work, (not you) and they will have to follow the APS curriculum outcomes per course or grade. As a parent, you have the same rights and responsibilities as a parent of a child in a physical school. You do not control the classroom or resources-the teacher does!
You also do not get funding as you are not providing a home education program. If the school gives you a "Supplemental Resource allowance" they are mandated by Alberta Education to request and assist with returning those items back to the school at the end of the year. The school is getting per-pupil base instructional funding to hire teachers to teach and mark your child's work.
*Traditional Home Education* *Shared Responsibility (Blended) 1/2 and 1/2* *Distance Education: (Online, Teacher-Directed, Paper)*
Step 5 Register with a School or Board and submit a Learning/Education Plan to your school or board. Plan your goals for the next year. Is there an area you wish to focus on? Be sure that anything you wish to buy with funding is mentioned in the plan. Here is a sample below:
Step 6 Purchase curriculum if you are going to use it. Many unschoolers do not use prescribed curriculum. A library card and internet access is all you really need to start the homeschooling year until you discover how your child learns best (through workbooks, or hands-on kits, videos, field trips, etc.) Many children, especially in the younger grades dislike workbooks and textbooks, but if you need to purchase them, be sure to check with your school board first because they can order them for you with a discount applied.
Step 7 Find your community support. Links are below. There are many facebook groups now. Just use the keywords "home schooling" and your "city" and you will find them.
Step 8 Continue your homeschooling professional development! Keep learning about this wonderful alternative to school.
At the very least, get to know your rights and responsibilities.
Step 9 Educate others. Partner or family not completely on board? These articles are full of up-to-date research may convince them!
Step 10 Lastly, enjoy the journey! The first year is always a learning year for both you and your children. You will enjoy the many benefits to come: amazing learning, confidence, sibling closeness, relaxed family time and a lifelong love of learning.
The Universal Declaration on Human Rights #3: Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children, Section 50 (2) Alberta Education, School Act