Monday, May 22, 2017

HOMESCHOOLING | Canadian Curricular Options

One of the Canadian
Homeschooling Groups
My niece Dr. Christine Schintgen, who is a fellow graduate of Oxford (her D.Phil. is in English), is Chairman of Literature at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada. She and her husband are homeschooling their children.

I sent her the BIG LIST curriculum summary by  to help Canadians find their own options. Christine responded that she uses a lot of American curricular material:
There's a math website we use that isn't Canadian but it has a Canadian subdivision. The name of the company is IXL ( What we really like about it is that you can specify what province you are in and the website will prompt the student to learn skills that pertain to his or her grade level in the curriculum of his or her province.
This has prompted me to post some facts I have picked up about homeschooling in Canada. If newer better information becomes available to me I will substitute it for what follows.

Canadian Homeschooling

Canada has fewer homeschoolers than the United States. Canada has an estimated 60,000 homeschoolers. Even if this estimate is substantially underestimated, it suggests that with about 2.5 million children reported to be homeschooled in the United States, there are nearly 42 times as many homeschoolers in the USA as in Canada. Since the U.S. population is only 9.1 times bigger (319 million to 35 million), it  suggests that homeschooling is more than six times as popular in the USA.
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One reason in both countries the data on homeschooling are fuzzy is that homeschooling is regulated at the state and provincial level. It is sometimes hard to aggregate data from different jurisdictions.

Homeschooling in Canada is regulated by the provinces under three kinds of laws, established by legislation and administered by the provincial education authorities:
  • Specific regulations in Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Yukon.
  • Registration in British Columbia. 
  • Permits in Manitoba, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
Reasons for Homeschooling in the USA

The Canadian Journal of Education in 2000 (pp. 204-217) published an article that sets out to identify the reasons for homeschooling in Canada. (The article may be read online.) It starts by reviewing the reasons for homeschooling in the United States, to provide a benchmark for comparisons and a language for discussing the Canadian situation.

American homeschoolers are described as operating a parallel educational system based on the following motivations:
  • They don't like the content of the public-school curricula. Those with these motivations are assumed to be driven by commitment to religious dogma and they are therefore described by writers on the topic (some of whom are responding to those who seek to restrict access to education to the public schools) as "ideologues". Christian fundamentalists were the drivers of homeschooling in the 1980s.
  • They don't like the institutional context within which the public schools operate. Their motivation could be to avoid their children being subject to "negative socialization" — i.e., socialization that is permanently damaging. Or their motivation could stem from "new age" thinking and a desire to have children at home while they learn. In either case, the American literature describes the parents as "pedagogues" rather than "ideologues". Homeschooling has passed the test of being banned and is now accepted. In the 1970s the "new age" parents dominated the homeschooling market. Today, the range of "pedagogues is much wider".
Reading between the lines, the literature in the United States seems to be saying: Homeschooling is here to stay, because while religious schools overall are shrinking rather than growing, a new group of homeschoolers is increasing in size, made up of people who are either fearful of the impact of high school classmates to sear the soul of their children, or more positively to use the home environment to improve the ability of children in the family to learn.
Reasons for Homeschooling in Canada

The Canadian Journal of Education survey sought to determine why homeschoolers did not send their children to public schools. The results are based on 23 interviews with homeschooling parents in Ontario and British Columbia. The results are compared with similar studies in the United States.

The study of Canadian homeschool parents says that the reasons cited for homeschooling their children are four in number and don't correspond at all to the categories cited in the American literature:
  1. Homeschool parents want to maintain the bonds with their children by keeping them home longer.
  2. They want their children to grow up with a less materialistic life style that is promoted in public schools.
  3. They want their children to avoid some of the unpleasant memories that they have of their own time in school.
  4. They want to take responsibility for their children's education. They want to "do no harm" to their children during their school years.
Here are some details of the responses of the parents:
  • All 23 families have a religious faith.
  • Five of them are fundamentalist Christian.
  • For eight of them, religion is a strong factor in their decision to homeschool.
  • They are dissatisfied with local schools.
  • They are concerned about overcrowding, lack of individual attention, problems outside of the classroom (drugs, smoking, alcohol).
  • They don't relate at all to the "ideologue" and "pedagogue" labels.
  • They think homeschooling is better for he children, strengthens family bonds.
  • They would certainly reconsider if the public schools were working better.
In sum, homeschooling is appealing to more parents and it probably won't reverse if or until public schools change or more public educational options are offered.

To Contact Dr. Schintgen: Christine Schintgen, D.Phil. (Oxon.), Chairman of Literature, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College, 18 Karol Wojtyla Square, Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada. 613-756-3082.

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