Our Homeschooling Around the World series continues this week with Ontario, Canada!
Schoolhouse Ambassador Candace Moreau, from Ontario, Canada, has been married for twenty-five years and her family has utilized public school, homeschooling, and many things in between. She and her husband have four sons ages 22, 20, 16, and 12. Like many homeschooling families, there were obstacles that she faced on their homeschooling journey. Yet their family was able to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit and homeschool their sons.
Candace: “Every family is unique and there are many reasons parents might decide to homeschool in Canada. The homeschooling population is definitely growing. In Ontario, controversy over Sex Education Curriculum in recent years has caused many families to choose to home educate. Also, Ontario funds Catholic and secular education so families of other religions have the choice of expensive private schools or home education if they want their children to receive education under their particular religious worldview. Some have found the supports for Special Needs in public education insufficient. Homeschooling provides stability and consistency for families who travel and/or move frequently due to missionary work or the parents’ profession. Others are choosing homeschooling simply for the flexibility, variety, and closeness of family that it provides. The reasons for homeschooling in Canada are as diverse as the families who live here.”
Starting the Homeschooling Journey Slowly
All of their sons started off by attending public school until after their youngest finished his first year (Junior Kindergarten). Their oldest son had a very difficult childhood and when he was a young teen, Candace found herself wishing she had homeschooled him instead of sending him to elementary school. She shared, “when our youngest son’s first year of school was nearly identical to his oldest brother’s experience, the decision to homeschool him was easy; I felt I was getting a second chance. Implementing my plan to homeschool was not as easy as making the decision however, due to considerable opposition from some family members and added pressure felt by my husband who is a teacher in our local public school system. We persisted, convinced and at peace with our decision, and I’m so glad we did!”
The first year of being a homeschooling family saw only their youngest son learning from home while his brothers continued in public school. The first year turned out to be quite difficult because Candace’s oldest was struggling a great deal in his situation and their then grade 4 and 9 students both required supports at school. She said, “Even though my 5 yr old was now with me all of the time, I felt I wasn’t able to give him the attention he needed, educationally. I sought help and support from homeschooling websites, groups and publications, attended a convention and found a great deal of encouragement as the year went on. The next year, we began homeschooling 2 more of our boys. We finally took our oldest son out of the system and it turned out to be the best thing for him! There have been ups and downs for certain and looking back, we are confident that having followed the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are right where we need to be. I’m so pleased to have been able to realize the closeness of family that homeschooling has allowed and the learning and growth that has been experienced by every one of us in the family.”
Details on Homeschooling In Canada
While the journey to homeschooling may be similar to your own or vastly different, there is much encouragement that can be garnered from hearing the stories of other Homeschoolers. We can find specific advice on how to homeschool in different places or find the encouragement we need to persevere through our own troubles and difficulties.
If you are thinking about homeschooling in Ontario, it is legal and there are usually no restrictions. Candance recounted that “parents are asked to inform their local school board in writing of their intention to provide home education, particularly if the child had previously been enrolled in a publicly funded school. This should be done every year. The Ontario Ministry of Education website provides a sample letter which parents can use to inform their school board along with other information about the process and responsibilities of school boards and parents.”
While homeschooling families in Ontario do not need to report information to the local school boards or the Ministry of Education, as to curriculum, methods, grades, etc., there are methods in place to provide review in cases of reported abuse or neglect. Parents are free to educate their children using any resources, methods, and philosophy they choose in Ontario.
Ontario has a few recognized homeschooling support organizations such as
- The Ontario Federation for Teaching Parents (OFTP)
- Ontario Christian Home Educators Connection (OCHEC)
- The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
There are also many other locally based Homeschool groups and supports that can be found online, including co-ops, field trip groups, and support groups.
A Wonderful Place to Homeschool
Candace shared: “Since Canada is a large geographical country with many climates, environments and freedoms, it is a wonderful place to homeschool! Even though most Canadians live in or close to cities, we are never far from nature. Hiking trails and camping grounds can be found virtually everywhere! Nature and wildlife abound in every corner of our country. In studying our own provinces and territories, we can experience everything from Oceans to deserts, the Arctic to rainforests and nearly everything in between! Canada is rich in lakes and forests and we love our animals from Polar bears to beavers. There are a number of National Parks across the country and hundreds of Provincial Parks for visiting and camping, most with visitor centres and educational programming. We have wonderful museums, art galleries and science centres with interactive exhibits and presentations as well as theatre, music, and arts. Canada loves its festivals which can be found taking place all year, through every season. There’s no limit to field trips and experiential learning that can take place here. Our family loves to explore and enjoy nature through walks, hiking, and camping. We have traveled to all 10 provinces and our boys can’t wait to explore our 3 territories as well!”
“Overall, Ontario, Canada is a wonderful place to homeschool. We have a lot of freedom and resources. The HSLDA is a wonderful organization working to ensure that this continues and I encourage all homeschoolers to support them so they can continue their important work,” said Candace.
We have several Crew members and Schoolhouse Ambassadors from Canada including a former Crew member who shared about her homeschool experience in Homeschooling in Canada – Ontario.