Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do families home school?
A: Many Christian parents are committed to educating their children at home. Their underlying motivation is the conviction that this is God’s will for their family. They are concerned for the spiritual and character development as well as the social and academic welfare of their children.Specific advantages have been expressed as follows:
- Opportunity is available for spiritual training and presenting a biblical perspective of all academic subjects.
- “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov.9:10, NAS).
- Home schooling makes quality time available to train and influence children in all areas in an integrated way.
- Each child receives individual attention and has his unique needs met.
- Parents can control destructive influences such as various temptations, false teachings (including secular humanism and occult influences of the New Age movement), and negative peer pressure.
- Children gain respect for their parents as teachers.
- The family experiences unity, closeness, and mutual enjoyment of each other.
- Children develop confidence and independent thinking away from the peer pressure to conform and in the security of their own home.
- Children have time to explore new interests and to think.
- Communication between different age groups is enhanced.
- Tutorial-style education helps each child achieve his full potential.
- Flexible scheduling can accommodate fathers’ work and vacation times and allow time for many activities.
Q: Are parents qualified to teach their children?
A: You know your children better than anyone else and have the deepest love and concern for them.
You also have the most direct and long-term responsibility for your children before God. God commands all parents to teach their children His Word, the most important thing they will ever learn (Deuteronomy 6:6,7). Educationally, one-to-one tutoring of a child has many advantages over the typical classroom where one teacher tries to meet the needs of many children at different learning levels. You do not need to know everything in order to teach. Your example and enthusiasm in learning with your children will motivate and encourage them far more than striving to appear as if you know it all. Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, conducted a nationwide study of home education in Canada in 1993 of more than 800 families with 2,800 children. He found these home-educated children to average at or above the 76th percentile in all subject areas. (The national average of all conventionally-schooled children is the 50th percentile.) Dr. Ray says, “The tutorial method has always been the superior method for educating children. Home schooling epitomizes this method, providing the essentials for success - a close relationship between the student and teacher, motivation, flexibility, and individualization.”
Several resources are available to give you on-the-job training:
- Home-school conventions, workshops, and book fairs at local, regional and provincial levels provide practical instruction in teaching techniques unique to home instruction. Up-to-date information on these events is a regular feature of The Teaching Home magazine and The Canadian Home Educator magazines.
- Magazines present articles that inform, encourage, and inspire you in various principles and techniques of home teaching.
- Provincial and local home-school support groups can greatly encourage and help you as ideas and information are exchanged.
- God Promises His wisdom in James 1:5-7 and assures you that He will supply your needs as you follow His leading:
- “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Q: Is home schooling legal in every province?
A: Each province sets its own laws governing home education. Meeting the requirements of these laws may be as simple as informing the school district or department of education of your intent to home school and having your children tested or as complex as fulfilling detailed requirements of provincial regulations.
Legislation is continually being proposed and considered in provinces. It is important for you to work with your provincial and local home-school organizations to aid the passage of favourable legislation and regulations. Constitutional rights to liberty and freedom of conscience and religion under section 7 and section 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms a parent’s right to educate their children according to religious convictions. However, lower courts have ruled inconsistently in applying these rights to home schooling.
It is important to obtain a copy of your province’s law pertaining to home education. Many problems can be avoided by being accurately informed and by using tact and respect in dealing with school authorities.
For prepaid legal defence and assistance, contact Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada. Unit 32B 980 Adelaide St. South, London, Ontario, N6E 1R3, (519) 913-0318. To qualify for membership, apply before you are contacted by any authorities regarding school attendance laws. HSLDA offers a free summary of your provinces home-school law.
The goal of HSLDA-Canada is to give every parent who wants to home school the necessary confidence to start and continue home schooling.
Q: How much time does it take?
A: Home schooling requires a time commitment, but not as much as you might expect. One-to-one tutoring is more efficient than classroom instruction and thus takes less time.
The time requirement varies according to the methods used, the ages of the children, and how many children in the family are being taught. Academic instruction might begin with one-half to one hour for the early grades and work up to a few hours of instruction plus independent study for upper grades. Most correspondence courses state that their work can be completed in four or five hours per day.
Q: How can we teach several children at once?
A: Subjects such as Bible, science, history, and literature that are not dependent on prerequisite knowledge or skills can be taught to several grade levels together. Lessons can be presented in an amplified manner with explanations to enable children in all grade levels to understand. Older students can do much of their work independently and can also help teach younger children.
Q: What about socialization?
A: This is perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of home schooling.
Popular opinion assumes that children need periods of interaction with a group of peers to acquire social skills. By contrast, however, many believe that extensive peer contact during childhood can cause undesirable and negative peer dependency. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (ICor. 15:33, NAS). Young children are more likely to be influenced by the majority than to be a testimony to them. Children who receive their education outside the home are prone to accept their peers’ and teachers’ values over those of their parents. Some advantages of freedom from peer pressure can be self-confidence, independent thinking, the ability to relate to people of all ages, and better family relations. Moral principles of interaction can be taught, demonstrated, and reinforced at home by parents. Children can learn needed social skills by interaction with siblings or other children and adults under their parents’ supervision. Young people who have had this type of training have adjusted very well to adult life. You can help your children build and maintain lasting Christian friendships with people of all ages through church and family friends. Dr. Brian Ray reports that numerous studies have found that home-educated children are at least as well adjusted socially and emotionally as students in conventional schools. Andrew Nikiforuk states in Chatelaine magazine that given the strong emphasis home schoolers place on character development, the argument that children schooled at home are brought up in a bubble and can’t cope in the real world just doesn’t hold.
Q: What about my child’s special interests?
A: A wealth of experiences outside the home can supplement and enrich home education. Unlimited possibilities abound for field trips that individual families or groups can take. These provide valuable in-the-field learning laboratories.
Specialized classes are often available through parks, museums, art schools, or private lessons. Church and community teams offer various sports opportunities. There are actually more enrichment activities and time in which to do them available for home-taught students than for those in school.
Q: What about higher education and career preparation?
A: Several institutions throughout Canada have welcomed home-educated students. “Many of these schools actively recruit home-educated graduates because of their maturity, independent thinking skills, creativity, and extensive academic preparation,” says Inge Cannon, executive director of Education PLUS.
In preparation for college entrance or any other vocational training program, parents should prepare a thorough transcript of high-school level work, award a diploma, and specify an actual high school graduation date. Occasionally GED tests may be required by a college or employer for additional verification. Some homeschoolers are entering their chosen fields through apprenticeship programs designed and supervised by parents and professionals.
Q: What materials are available?
A: Fine Christian materials developed for Christian schools are available to home educators. New materials are also being developed or adapted especially for use in home teaching.
These materials may be obtained in three basic ways:
You may order texts and teaching aids directly from the publishers or through mail-order companies. Magazines such as The Teaching Home and The Canadian Home Educator regularly present advertisements of numerous suppliers of quality teaching materials. A home-extension program offered through a local Christian school or church can provide teaching materials, testing, and counselling. Materials, testing, and guidance can also be obtained through Christian correspondence courses. Home educators can choose or combine elements of any of the following approaches.
- Traditional Textbooks. High-quality textbooks are available from publishers. These cover each subject in depth and in a logical order of topics.
- Worktexts. Some publishers have combined textbook information with exercises in consumable write-in books.
- Classical Approach. Children progress from memory and learning skills to advanced reasoning and finally expressive use of language to discuss their knowledge and beliefs.
- Principle Approach. Teachers and students keep notebooks for each subject containing Bible perspectives and principles, personal applications, and information acquired from various sources.
- Unit Studies. Theme-centred units integrate information from several subjects. Language arts and math need additional systematic teaching.
- Books & Life Experiences. Other than basic teaching in the three R’s, much learning comes through reading good literature and nonfiction. Normal everyday activities also supplement book-learning and give it perspective.
Q: What methods do homeschoolers use?
A: There is no “one right way” to home school. There is no one right method or curriculum.
As an artist has at his disposal an entire palette of colours to mix and use, so a home educator has a vast array of effective methods from which to choose.
These choices may be based on:
- The ages of the children
- The subject matter being taught.
- The number of children that you are teaching.
- The learning styles your children find most effective.
- The time you have available to prepare and teach.
- The varying abilities or special needs of your children.
- The motivation certain methods may provide your children.
- The variety of methods is endless. As you choose and mix them, your home school will become a unique work of art.
Q: What about children with special needs?
A: Many children with special needs are being successfully home educated. HSLDA membership has proven to be especially helpful to these families. Contact The Teaching Home for a “Special Needs Resource List.”
Q: What are some difficulties?
A: The following are common difficulties and suggested solutions.
- Lack of Confidence: At first, you may lack confidence in choosing materials and methods, doubting your ability to teach. With experience, you will gain confidence.
- Fear of Being Unable To Work With Your Own Children: Parents who do not have their children’s respect will have trouble getting their cooperation. Gaining their respect through proper discipline, training, and example should be the parents’ top priority, whether or not they are home schooling. Home schooling can provide the incentive and optimum setting to accomplish this.
- Inadequate Time and Energy: Home teaching requires an investment of time and energy, especially by mothers. Self-discipline and good organization will help ensure a well-run household. A daily schedule, lesson plans, and a chore list can keep school and housework organized. Children can also be a great help when trained to assist with the cooking, laundry, and household chores.
- Lack of Commitment: Families who are home schooling only for convenience or because it is a popular thing to do may soon drop out unless they develop the conviction that home schooling is best for their family and is God’s will for them.
- Social Pressure: Pressure from well-meaning friends or relatives can be a real deterrent. Make a well-informed decision and then stand on your convictions. More information and a loving attitude often help others understand and accept God’s leading for the home-school family.
- Financial Investment: Costs of materials or programs vary considerably, but are always less expensive than a private school. Many materials can be reused for siblings as well.
Q: How do we get started in home schooling?
A: Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
- Seek the Lord and agree together as husband and wife on your decision to home school.
- Research home education by reading one or two basic books home education, such as Christopher Klicka’s The Right Choice, and The Teaching Home and The Canadian Home Educator magazines. Also meet and visit with more experienced home schoolers in your church or at a local support group or event and make an effort to attend your province’s home-school convention.
- Contact your province home-school organization to learn of local support groups, events, and publications as well as your province’s laws governing home education. HSLDA has provincial law summaries.
- Make arrangements to comply with the law according to your conscience and recommendations of state organizations and/or HSLDA. Consider joining Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada.
- Get your home and life in order by establishing discipline of your children and your use of time. Also, consider getting rid of unnecessary or little-used possessions to make way for learning materials and study space.
- Choose methods and teaching materials that you feel most comfortable in starting out with and that would be appropriate to the age and number of your children. If you feel overwhelmed by the choices you must make, you may want to use a prepared curriculum from a textbook, worktext, or unit study publisher for your first year. It may also help to start with only one or a few subjects and add more as you go along, adjusting your pace accordingly. Re-evaluate and experiment with different materials and methods and make adjustments as you become more experienced with home education.
Throughout this educational process, you will, or course, want to give top priority to your children’s spiritual and character development.
Home schooling is a way of life in which the home is the centre of life and learning. Through home education, parents can experience in a unique way their responsibility to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
The above questions and answers have been provided by Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada.
HSLDA is committed to the overall success and advancement of home schooling in the areas of education, the media, Parliament, provincial legislatures, churches, families and communities. This is accomplished by concentrating on parental rights and religious freedoms. HSLDA’s policy is to defend any member family diligently home educating their children, regardless of their religious beliefs. An annual membership fee not only provides legal defence for your family but also makes it possible for us to wage legal and legislative battles throughout Canada on behalf of home educating families. Your membership in HSLDA also provides you with regular updates on the legal status of home education in jurisdictions throughout Canada and the United States.