Homeschooling in Alberta
**Political updates pertaining to home education may be found at AHEA's website.**
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights declares that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”1 Alberta Education therefore endorses a variety of options for parents, including home education.2 Our God-given responsibility of directing our children's education is paramount.
Approximately ten thousand students (1.5% of the total student population)3 are registered in a home education program in Alberta. Parents choose & notify a board4 of their intent to homeschool. Homeschool parents usually choose a board which specializes in homeschooling (see local list on our Links page) and which best fits their homeschool goals. This board maintains a record of accountability to the province, administers funding, and provides a homeschool facilitator to the family.
A facilitator must be an Alberta-certified teacher and should have a thorough understanding and appreciation for the family's philosophy of homeschooling. He or she maintains a relationship with the family, including two visits per year.
Parents may switch boards, facilitator, start homeschooling or stop homeschooling at any time during the year, although their funding will be affected. Ideally all is settled well before the September Count Day5 when funding is established for the school year.
Homeschool parents pay resident school taxes just like everyone else! The kids must start school if they are age six on September 1st - they may start six months earlier than that - and must stay in school until age 17. Students may continue homeschooling as long as they are less than age 21 by September 1st, residents of Alberta, and not enrolled in accredited post-secondary studies. (Inconsistencies with ages & eligibility for dual enrolment may be clarified by the new gov't, but for now the 2006 Home Ed Regulation applies.)
In addition to describing the government's role, the Alberta Home Education Handbook6 describes parental responsibilities when following a home education program. For example, parents must submit a yearly Education Program Plan each September. A well-matched facilitator or board will be happy to help with this. Parents may choose from an endless variety of activities &/or curricula tailoring them to the individual needs of each child and the family.
It is therefore not necessary to align program plans with public school counterparts; however, core topics (language arts, math, science, social studies) must be included. The Schedule of Learning Outcomes7 is a necessary tool when designing an overall homeschool experience.
This home-based model of education can become a rewarding lifestyle for the entire family as concepts are mastered year by year, interests are nurtured, and a love of learning is developed!
Social/educational support is available to families through groups like HSCF and other organizations offering field trips, park days, labs, fairs, forums, conventions, science "Homeschool Days", etc., in addition to community activities through churches, teams, music, sports, dance, volunteering, and so much more.
Spiritual/emotional support can be a little harder to muster; some families may find themselves feeling like they have to defend their decision to homeschool to relatives, friends or others. Or maybe they get feeling burnt out, or lose their focus. Parent support groups such as HSCF can help to meet this need for support, as can well-matched facilitators & boards.
Academic support as needed is made available to parents through the facilitator, supervising board, curricula developers and a network of mentors. Apprenticeships and post-secondary schools accept homeschoolers basing admission on portfolios, work experience, credits and/or assessment, etc.
Funding support toward the reimbursement of supplies and enrichment is allotted by Alberta Education through the supervising boards for home-educated students.8 Funds submitted for reimbursement must reflect a well-rounded Education Program Plan. Home education is both effective9 & cost-effective: homeschoolers saved the Alberta government approximately $80 million in education costs last year.10
Despite being under more regulation than in other Canadian jurisdictions, parents choosing to direct their family's education are in good company in Alberta!
2 Home Education means that a parent retains full responsibility for the student's program in accordance with the Alberta Home Education Regulation. Responsibility is not delegated to a school board. Home Education is often referred to as 'traditional' homeschooling.
3 Student population stats are available in a variety of ways from Alberta Education, for example, or by requesting exact figures.
4 The supervising authority (a.k.a. the homeschool board) will supply parents with the necessary paperwork, such as the notification form or sample program plans. Boards each have their own flavour - from fully supporting traditional home education (Independent Contracted Home Education Specialists - ICHES) to being entirely school directed. It's okay to 'meet & greet' before choosing a board & facilitator which best fits your family. Many homeschool boards have open houses or information sessions. It's not unusual for your needs to change along the way during your years of homeschooling.
5 The Count Day is Sept 30th or the last instructional day of Sept if the 30th is on a weekend. Where your child is enrolled on this day determines where their funding is allotted, and therefore their eligibility for home education reimbursement. It's best if the decision to home educate is made well in advance.
6 The Home Education Handbook includes the Alberta Home Education Regulation (2006) in the Appendix. A new Home Education Regulation was implemented during the 2014-2015 school year and was to be in force on Sept 1, 2015; however, in June 2015, Education Minister David Eggan announced its postponement until he has had time to review all of the Regulations in the new Education Act. Updates will be posted on AHEA's website.
7 The one-page "A to T" list as it's sometimes called, is used when considering year-by-year goals or program plans throughout the entire course of a student's home education experience through grade twelve. The family's worldview, whether faith-based or not, is overarching.
8 The 2015-2016 reimbursement amount offered to home educating parents is $835.40 per student, as per the current Funding Manual. The supervising board receives an equal amount.. Funding is usually not released to parents until their child's Education Program Plan has been submitted & approved.
Any program that offers parents substantially more funding than this is outside of the Home Education Regulation; it is a funded school program. These school-directed options (e.g. 'blended' or 'teacher directed' or 'fully aligned') obligate paid teachers to plan and deliver either a portion or all of your child's education as responsibly as they would if your child were attending a brick & mortar school. The student is funded as a public school student, not a homeschooler; the parent should therefore never feel pressured to assume the responsibilities of 'teacher' or 'teacher's aide' or 'supervisor' for the school portion.
As defined by Alberta Education, a blended program consists of "two distinct parts:
- "1. A School-Provided Program where a teacher employed by a school board...is responsible for providing the planning, resource selection, instructional delivery, assessment and evaluation of student progress in selected courses that follow the Alberta Programs of Study with the following minimum requirements: Grades 1-9 Minimum of 50% school-provided program; Grades 10-12 Minimum of 20% school-provided program.
"2. A Home Education Program that meets the requirements of the Home Education Regulation for the remaining portion." (Funding Manual for School Authorities 2015-2016, Glossary of Terms, p.132.)
9 Current research regarding homeschooling is available online at:
- Home School Legal Defense Association (Canada)
- Fraser Institute - a 2015 compilation of Canadian contributions
- NHERI - an American organization dedicated to home education research
10 Conservatively calculated as $8000 per public school student x 10,000 homeschoolers. Fees, infrastructure (e.g. school buildings), transportation, special needs funding, etc. are not included.
© September 2015 www.HSCFedmonton.ca