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The Question of Home Schooling in Canada

An Examination of the Issues Surrounding Home Schooling in Canada and an Identification of the Key Advantages and Disadvantages Associated with Home Based Learning

Victoria Edwards

on 12 April 2011

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Transcript of The Question of Home Schooling in Canada

An Examination of the Issues Surrounding Homeschooling in Ontario and an Identification of the Key Advantages and Disadvantages Associated with Home Based Learning ARE CHILDREN WHO RECEIVE HOME BASED LEARNING AT A DISADVANTAGE? What is homeschooling? Homeschooling is forming defined as ‘to teach one’s children at home, instead of sending them to school’. This education is administer typically by parents but sometimes by tutors, rather than in other formal settings of public or private school. Although prior to the introduction of compulsory school attendance laws, homeschooling occurred on a daily basis: most childhood education occurred within the family or community. However now, in the modern sense, homeschooling is an alternative in developed countries to private schools outside the home or educational institutions operated by civil governments. homeschool? WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY In Canada, education is mandated provincially and since each province legislates education independently, the laws governing homeschooling vary with diverse procedures. This requires parents who are interested to consult the appropriate Education Act that governs education for their province.

In Ontario, the Ministry of Education and Training oversees education. The legislation pertaining to education, the Ontario Education Act, clearly identifies home schooling as a legitimate option and outlines the following rights and libersites in regards to homeschooling:
-allows parents to legally home school
-requires no teaching certificate to home educate
-does not require home schooling families to register with any governing body
-makes no reference to visits or assessments of home schooled children by school board officials
-makes no reference to parents attaining approval for their method of home schooling

Some boards of education in Ontario have their own policies stating families must:
-get approval to home school
-have their children assessed periodically
-adhere to board curriculum guidelines
-provide the board with "proof of satisfactory instruction" This presentation solely focuses on homeschooling in Ontario, Canada. Problem: Under the provisions listed in the Education Act, parents are not required to have any teaching certificates and seek approval or counsel on their approaches, methods and content they are teaching. As well, there is no governing body to register with or be assessed by. From this lack of policing, it is very easy for a child to become susceptible to poor teach methods and questionable content. Overall there is no assurance that children are receiving a quality education using an adequate curriculum and appropriate teaching methods. Ontario school boards have their own policies, however these policies are not included in the Education Act so they are not legally binding and differ from board to board, with some not having any. Problem: A parent cannot shelter their child from temptations their entire life, they may be able to provide their child with a nurturing and safe environment from of negative influences during their early years, but, when that child enters high school, college or university he/she will have to face these pressures and deal with situations concerning drugs, alcohol, sex, inappropriate behavior and relationships and threats to their well-being. In his/her earlier years a child, in a public or private school setting, would have more experience and knowledge on these situations and have a better understanding of how to handle them, compared to a homeschool child that may not know what is going on, understand the implications of their behavior and decisions or how to deal with the situations resulting in conflict, embarrassment and/or a bad choice. A Child's Right to Education CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD THE CONVENTION IS A UNIVERSALLY AGREED SET OF NON-NEGOTIABLE STANDARDS AND OBLIGATIONS RESPECTED BY GOVERNMENTS ON THE ENTITLEMENTS AND FREEDOMS OF A CHILD INCORPORATING THE FULL RANGE OF HUMAN CIVIL, CULTURAL, ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND SOCAIL RIGHTS. Article 28
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need;
(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;
(d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;
(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.
3. States Parties shall promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries. Article 29
1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:
(a) The development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential
(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations
(c) The development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own
(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin
(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.
2. No part of the present article or article 28 shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principle set forth in paragraph 1 of the present article and to the requirements that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State. YES! IS HOMESCHOOLING LEGAL? ONTARIO EDUCATION ACT The sections of the Education Act most relevant to homeschoolers are:

Section 21
(2)"A child is excused from attendance at school if,(a) the child is receiving satisfactory instruction at home or elsewhere;"

Section 24
(2)"Where the parent or guardian of a child considers that the child is excused from attendance at school under subsection 21(2), and the appropriate school attendance counsellor or the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor is of the opinion that the child should not be excused from attendance, the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor shall direct that an inquiry be made as to the validity of the reason or excuse for non-attendance and the other relevant circumstances, and for such purpose shall appoint one or more persons who are not employees of the board that operates the school that the child has the right to attend to conduct a hearing and to report to the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor the result of the inquiry and may, by order in writing signed by him or her, direct that the child,
(a) be excused from attendance at school; or
(b) attend school,
and a copy of the order shall be delivered to the board and to the parent or guardian of the child.

CURRENTLY there is a disagreement of the applicability of section 30 between the homeschooling community and goverment.

Section 30
(1) "A parent or guardian of a child of compulsory school age who neglects or refuses to cause the child to attend school is, unless the child is legally excused from attendance..." UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS Canada is among the signing nations of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Interpreatation of the declaration can be controversail in relation to parents rights for homeschooling:

Article 26(1) states "elementary education shall be compulsory," while article 26(3) dictates "parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children." Ultimtely, as long as a child is recieving 'elementary education' it is up to a parents discression how it is administered.

Because the public school system represents a gathering of people (schoolchildren and schoolteachers, etc) under a particular set of internal rules and regulations by which one is bound only if one is associating with it (- and not, for instance, if one is associating with a private school), one might also argue that it constitutes the equivalent of an association. In which case:
Article 20(2) applies: No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

When there is a dispute concerning the legitimacy of the claim to be providing "satisfactory instruction," the principle underlying Article 10 applies.
Article 10: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him. POLICY/PROGRAM MEMORANDUM #131 The entire PPM131 relates to home schooling, the following points outline the more relevent and important aspects of the policy/program.
Procedures for Parents:
Parents who decide to provide home schooling for their child(ren) should notify the school board of their intent in writing.
Procedures for School Boards
When parents give a board written notification of their intent to provide home schooling for their child, the board should consider the child to be excused from attendance at school, in accordance with subsection 21(2), clause (a), of the Education Act. The board should accept the written notification of the parents each year as evidence that the parents are providing satisfactory instruction at home. Normally, the board should not investigate the matter.
Guidelines for Conducting an Investigation
[...] Whether meeting with the family or reviewing information submitted in writing, board officials should recognize that the methodology, materials, schedules, and assessment techniques used by parents who provide home schooling may differ from those used by educators in the school system.

One of the areas in which home educators may still disagree with the government's interpretation of the law, is in terms of whether section 30 of the Education Act ever applies to homeschoolers. PPM131 expresses a disputable interpretation of that section of the law in the following paragraph of the 'Guidelines for Conducting an Investigation':
[...] If the board is unable to determine from this investigation whether the child is receiving satisfactory instruction at home, it may take further action, in accordance with subsection 24(2) and/or section 30 of the Education Act. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms In response to Section 21(2)(a) of the Education Act use of the ambiguous term 'statisfactory, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms defendes the parent when there is a dispute concerning the legitimacy of their claim to providing "satisfactory instruction," the principle underlying Article 11 applies:
11. Any person charged with an offence has the right
(d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal; For children that suffer with disabilities and/or require special needs: The following policies and government regulations outline the rights of parents and government assistance available to them:

• Home Care and Community Services Act 1994
• Regulation 386/99
• Provision of Community Services Methods and Approaches: THE MOST COMMON APPROACHED. ALL APPROACHES ARE VALID AND IT DEPENDS ON A PARENTS CHARACTER AND PHILOSOPHY AS TO WHAT METHOD TO USE Built on the firm belief that children should be in control of their own learning - as they are when they learn to walk and talk - because that is the only way real learning happens. Children are natural learners and can be trusted with decisions that our culture often deems not to be within their capabilities. We believe in children's rights and we do not believe in coercion. Often in this approach parents provide a rich environment of books and experiences, whetting a child’s appetite to learn. ‘Life Learning’ or Unschooling Entails “living books” or books written by one person with a passion for the topic and a broad command of the language as well as the ability to write in an engaging, literary style while communicating great ideas rather than mere facts. This approach also makes use of narration which can be oral, written or drawn and should be given after only one reading of the material, habit training, dictation, progressive lessons, art, music, nature studies and outdoor education, handwriting math, poetry, handicrafts, foreign language, grammar and history. Charlotte Mason This approach to homeschooling is also known as school-at-home, structured homeschooling, scope and sequence schooling, or school-in-a-box. It is the method which most closely follows a traditional school model, and strives to mirror that type of classroom setting in the home. Traditional homeschoolers usually purchase a complete curriculum which includes textbooks, teacher’s guides, tests, schedules, and grading and record keeping materials. Each child will most likely have his own set of textbooks and workbooks, and will study each subject separately according to grade level. Traditional Follows the Trivium methodology which divides a child’s development into three stages: the grammar stage which focuses on the basics of language as well as memorization of important dates and events, poetry etc.; the logic stage in which a student develops his reasoning skills and learns critical analysis; and the rhetoric stage in which the student learns to express verbally and via writing what he has learned. Classical Howard Gardner's groundbreaking 1983 book, Frames of Mind, introduced his theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner's research opened the door to a greater understanding of, and respect for, individual talents, including: kinesthetic, spatial, verbal, musical, and logical (mathematical). Homeschooling using this method allows children to develop and grow according to their individual learning style. Theory of Multiple Intelligences Learning based on age groups: children under 7 learning is based on imitation, there is no 'teaching' at this stage, but the children's capacities are enhanced by listening to stories, painting and making crafts, singing and celebrating seasonal festivals. Children between the ages of 7 and 14 an artistic, imaginative approach is taken to all lessons, they are introduced to academic work gradually, and always with activity preceding 'head work'. Reading follows writing and it is the children's own writing which serves as their text. Finally children 14 and up, the focus is on rigorous intellectual content (but never neglecting the artistic). Lessons are taught by specialist subject teachers. Waldorf Education Combines the best of different approaches, considering the unique needs of each child, their strengths and weaknesses as well as their interests. Eclectic Combines the study of science, history, writing and art around each central topic. Unit Study Publications: books, magazines, articles, mail order catalogues (for curriculum or other educational materials)
Online: blogs, articles and websites centered around advice, support, problem solving, tips, methodology, online publications, encyclopedias and online magazines, newspapers and textbooks
Other: local support groups, neighbors, relatives, friends, community clubs, associations (Canadian Alliance of Homeschoolers), tutors, YouTube channels, public library, Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents (OFTP) RECOURCES Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents (OFTP) is provincial homeschool group providing support to homeschooling families and information on home based education to members and the public.

Serves as an advocacy group and link between the homeschooling community and the provincial government, school boards and other agencies

Liaises with the Ministry of Education, changing the Ontario governments policy towards homeschoolers, most recently Policy Memorandum #131

Non-profit, run by volunteers and open to all home learning families of all languages, faiths and educational styles

Enable networking between members in newsletters, online discussion groups and home-based learning conferences Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents (OFTP) is provincial homeschool group providing support to homeschooling families and information on home based education to members and the public.
Serves as an advocacy group and link between the homeschooling community and the provincial government, school boards and other agencies
Liaises with the Ministry of Education, changing the Ontario governments policy towards homeschoolers, most recently Policy Memorandum #131
Non-profit, run by volunteers and open to all home learning families of all languages, faiths and educational styles
Enable networking between members in newsletters, online discussion groups and home-based learning conferences Trends According to Statistics Canada, in 1979 only 2,000 children in Canada were being homeschooled for various reasons but by 1996 this number had risen to 17,523 students
Other notable signs of the increase in popularity of homeschooling rests in literature and publishing. Magazines, curriculum and publications companies are surfacing with materials for homeschooling parents with sales and distriution numbers on the rise, for example, Practical Home Schooling magazine published by Home Life Inc. is capable of selling over 100,000 copies and The Big Book of Home Learning by Mary Pride by Alpha Omega Publications sold 250,000 copies. Amazon.com also lists 1,646 titles related to home education according to the Fraser Institute report. The Issues What if homeschool does not work out? Is the quality of education a child receives from homeschooling adequate? Will the child be able to transition from a homeschool environment to a high school, college or university? Socially? Academically? Are there hidden benefits to homework? or absence of homework? Is the child socially undeveloped? Or will be socially underdeveloped? If a child has behavioral problems, is it better he be homeschooled? Or will this enable and potentially worsen these issues? What effect can homeschooling have on the parent-child relationship? The effect of a parent playing both rolls as teacher and parent?
Do the lines blur, deteriorating the relationship? Or does it strengthen the relationship? Can it affect a child’s independence and self-sufficiency skills, causing him/her to become more dependent on parent? Parents are concerned about the academic achievement of their children as well as their spiritual and character development. There is a deteriorating faith in the quality of education children received in the public education system and little optimism of reform. Recently, there has been a lot of media attention to issues within public and private schools relating to bullying, sexual harassment, illegal and inappropriate relationships between students and teachers, drug and alcohol use, implications of peer pressure and general safety of students. With new stories reported every day of weapons within schools or increase of drug use in teenagers it is no surprise that a parent would want to protect their child from entering such a volatile, seductive and, at times, dangerous environment.

Children with mild academic disabilities, who would otherwise be labeled slower learners and either fall to the back of the class, pushed back a grade or made to repeat a year, can receive a more focused approached to their learning, catering to their needs and learn skills to manage their handicap. Studies have also found that parents opt to homeschool for the following reasons:
33 percent object to the unavailability of religious instruction
30 percent felt their public school had poor learning environments
14 percent objected to what the schools taught
11 percent felt their children were not challenged at school
9 percent had morality issues
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