If you are wanting to know how to get started homeschooling in Ontario, the good news is that there are no province rules or ongoing reporting necessary.
In this article, you’ll find 5 simple steps to start homeschooling in the province of Ontario.
How To Homeschool In Ontario, Canada
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Step 1 – Submit a Letter of Intent
If you are going to homeschool a child who has been or is currently in the public school board, the only thing you will need to do is provide a letter of intent to homeschool – to the local school board each year – that’s all!
If you wish to also send it to the school principal, it’s also a good idea, but it’s not necessary.
You can find a sample letter of intent to homeschool here (Appendix B).
If you are homeschooling a child right from the beginning of their educational life, then you don’t have anything to report!
In this case, no letter of intent is necessary.
There are no laws for homeschoolers in Ontario requiring any submitted curriculum plans or lists of books you’re using with your child. Therefore, don’t be intimidated by any school boards telling you that you have to submit anything. You can teach what you want to teach (more about this in another step).
I do recommend you keep samples of your child’s work throughout the year (and weekly plans if you create them), just in case the government requests an audit. It’s also great to have as a keepsake and see how far the’ve come as a homeschooler.
Step 2 – Decide on EQAO Testing
Although there are no required tests to take in Ontario, you do have the option to get your kids to do the EQAO test in grades 3, 6, and 9, plus the Literacy test in Gr.10. This is totally a family choice.
In order for your child to take the EQAO test, you must however, inform the school your child was in previously, or the closest public school in your neighbourhood if you’re child has never been to public school.
The school must be notified the same year of taking the test by September 30th to ensure space will be available.
Step 3 – Choose Your Curriculum
Decide on curriculum.
Before deciding on specifics, you need to decide if you want to follow the Ontario curriculum or not.
Are you going to be homeschooling for a year or two and then plan to have your child back in public school?
If you believe that homeschooling is temporary, or you are not sure, it may be a good idea to follow the Ontario curriculum.
It’s important to note that Ontario does not have a set of ‘curriculum’ or materials that all school kids in Ontario use. One school may use totally different books and resources than another school, but they still follow the same Ontario ‘curriculum’.
It should have been named ‘Ontario expectation guidelines’ in my opinion, but they call it curriculum.
You don’t have to get hung up on following it exactly.You can just use it as a general guideline for learning expectations.
If reading the curriculum goals seems daunting to you, there is a simple way to understand the Ontario curriculum expectations and be sure your child meets them.
I recommend getting started with the book titled, Complete Canadian Curriculum (found here) for your child’s grade level. This book is NOT to be used as the only thing for the entire school year.
However, it is an excellent way to start and also understand what the curriculum expectations are for the grade level in the subjects of Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.
This book covers at least one exercise for the specific expectations – that is why it is called ‘complete’. However, it does not have enough exercises to practice each concept in the book. This book can be used as a ‘spine’ to understand what you need to cover with additional books.
The table of contents is a great way to see all the topics that should be covered throughout the year.
If you only want to stick with Canadian books, I do recommend the Smart Series since there are more practice exercises and they are very inexpensive.
A good resource for those younger years would be this French Skills book here.
History is not covered in the Smart Series book, however, the Complete Canadian Curriculum book will cover the basics of Social Studies and History.
I recommend using the topics covered as starting points to gather more books to read and resources on a specific topic.
It’s best to start this only in Grade 1 or 2 (preferably Grade 2). If you have more than one homeschooled child, you can do this history curriculum together and start with Volume 1 in the first year.
There are four volumes covering different time periods.
Although it is not a Canadian resource, it covers world history and not only American history.
Remember, that as a homeschooling parent in Ontario, you do not have to follow the Ministry of Education’s curriculum guidelines. There is no law that says you have to follow it. It is a personal choice.
I personally prefer to use the Canadian resources as a supplement, but the Canadian books mentioned above is a good starting point as a new homeschooler in Ontario.
I prefer to use excellent curriculum that is designed for homeschoolers and it doesn’t matter to me that they are not Canadian-based.
If for whatever reason, in the future, you had to place your child back in public school, the school would simply administer a placement test to be sure they are at the right academic level.
Oftentimes, homeschoolers placed back into public school will be above grade level. This is because many homeschool resources are of high academic standards.
Related Post: 1st Grade Homeschool Curriculum Options
Step 4 – Establish a Homeschooling Routine
Establish a homeschooling routine and schedule.
Most homeschoolers do schooling in the mornings and are oftentimes done by lunch time or early afternoon.
Of course, every family is different, and you can choose to homeschool any time of day.
As per the days you homeschool, many homeschoolers decide to do a Monday to Thursday schedule and reserve Fridays for field trips, errands, or appointments.
Others decide to homeschool 5 days a week. It’s a matter of choice and what works for your family.
Homeschooling is awesome because it allows room for flexibility.
Keep in mind that it is still best to figure out a specific block of time in your day to reserve for homeschooling.
Being intentional and prepared is essential when homeschooling.
Step 5 – Make Connections
Find a homeschool group to connect with neighbourhood homeschoolers.
It’s a good idea to have your homeschooled children interact with other homeschool kids in your area – whether online or in-person.
These are often called homeschool co-ops. They are groups organized by homeschool parents to either work on an academic subject together or just have fun! Kids will usually get together once or twice a week (in non-pandemic times).
Your local library or community centre might provide you with information to help you make connections with homeschooling families and co-ops.
Homeschooling Facebook groups in your area also serves as a great resource to help you connect with other homeschoolers and join a co-op.
To find one in your area, simply go to Facebook and type in homeschoolers or homeschooling in + your town and search under ‘groups’. If you live in a big city such as Toronto, or even a smaller town such as Thornhill, there are plenty of groups for homeschooling in Ontario.
I do advise to only join one or two groups on Facebook because as a new homeschooler, it can be overwhelming in these groups. Don’t lose focus of your main main focus which should be to homeschool your kids.
By following the steps above, it will help you avoid getting overwhelmed when starting this journey of homeschooling in Ontario.
Whether you choose to homeschool for a short period of time or through many years to come, make the best of this time connecting and exploring the world of education with your child!
Feel free to leave any questions in the comment area below.
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