It’s that time of year again! Children everywhere are heading back to the classroom, backpacks and new pencils ready. But some kids aren’t going back this year, and others have never been to school at all. Kids in homeschooling families might just spend part of this week splashing at the beach in their swimsuit instead of sitting at a desk in a classroom, with the full consent of their parents and the BC Ministry of Education.
Before my daughter was two or three, I never dreamed that I’d homeschool her. Schooling choices just weren’t on my radar; I was still in the land of toilet training. But as she grew up and I started thinking about choosing a preschool I began to explore our all options more fully, including homeschooling.
Every homeschooling family has their own reasons for choosing to take responsibility of their child’s education. For us, we are excited about providing a highly flexible, customized learning experience for our kids. We value freedom, creativity, healthy relationships, and meaningful work, all of which homeschooling fosters.
Homeschooling Options in BC
British Columbia is one of the best places in the world to be a homeschooler. There a vibrant, active homeschooling community in Vancouver to engage with and there are lots of daytime classes to choose from. We also have some of the most supportive legislation. There are two ways to homeschool in BC: either as a Registered Homeschooler or as a Distributed Learning (DL) student. Parents who choose the Registered Homeschooler route simply register their intent to homeschool with the Ministry of Education. Parents of Registered Homeschoolers have total freedom and responsibility for their child’s education, and are not accountable to anybody but themselves and their child.
Homeschooling as a Distributed Learning student means that the child is enrolled as a student at a school with a DL program. This school may or may not have programming in a brick and mortar school, but according to the Ministry of Education, a DL child is a student at that school. DL students and their parents submit reports to the school about their learning. They’re expected to meet the same provincial learning outcomes as any other student. They also receive a financial allotment towards books, lessons and supplies.
Vancouver Homeschooling Resources
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to know everything about everything in order to help a child learn. You mainly need to be able to say, “Let’s find out more about that.” And then do it! Here are some of the best local resources for homeschooling in Vancouver:
- Greater Vancouver Home Learners – the mother lode of local resources, this site lists everything from community email lists to where to find science equipment.
- Vancouver Public Library – free, fabulous and accessible to all, the library is a favourite of homeschoolers everywhere. You can learn a lot with nothing but a library card and some healthy curiosity.
- HS-Van Yahoo Group – the largest homeschooling email group in the Greater Vancouver area. These folks know the ins and outs of homeschooling and are happy to answer questions and welcome newcomers.
Homeschooling is a viable alternative to public or private school, and it is quickly growing in popularity. Here in Metro Vancouver there is a casual meetup, organized class or co-op that a homeschooled child could attend every day of the week. Homeschooling takes time, flexibility and a willingness to try new things, but so far our journey has been pretty amazing.
Michelle Carchrae is often asking those important life questions: "who moved the scissors?", "how would you do that differently next time?" and "are you finished with the glitter glue?" Homeschooling two girls, ages 6 and 3, is her full time job. The rest of the time Michelle can be found blogging at The Parent Vortex, hiking in the forest or knitting and reading simultaneously. She recently published her first ebook, The Parenting Primer: A guide to positive parenting in the first six years, and moved to Bowen Island.