Ian about his homeschooling experience in Alberta, Canada (1/2)

Who made the decision in your family to do homeschooling and why?


My parents were both kind of progressive but they didn’t want me and my sister in the public school system. I don’t know exactly my parents’ reasons but I know they had a huge distrust in the system and both of them have had negative experiences going to public school.


I think they started because it was an option and they wanted to at least try it.


[When] we went through it was it was all set up through Alberta education system. So I was still learning the same general material as everyone else – I would just be learning it at home.


What did homeschooling look like?

I would get a module, it’s like a booklet, and it would be like all the different words (for English), and me and my mom would sit down every day and we go over that module for that day. My mom was my teacher for that, we would go over the module and I would do work for the assignment, we would mail it in, and I would get my marks back a couple of weeks later.


And in grade 12 it was also very similar: I would get a module that had all the information, but this time I would cover it all myself, do the work and send it back. By that point everything was all online, it was a lot faster in terms of the feedback.


I started homeschooling in grade 12 while also working full-time.


The main reason I did decide to do that for my grade 12 was because I actually only had 3 courses to complete in order to graduate. I was able to do that.


Support by Alberta Distance Learning Centre


Our education department is split up by province, so I’m not sure how it works in other provinces. We have an organization set up for homeschooling. In Alberta they have an organization called “Alberta Distance Learning Centre”.


Basically what they do is they organize all the people who want to do Distance Learning, homeschooling. They get you setup with the Alberta Education Curriculum, they have instructional staff for grading. It’s a pretty straightforward process. We don’t have to set up a plan because we have to follow the normal Alberta curriculum. So as long as covering that, you can supplement that with whatever you want.


In grade 1 and 2 I was taught by my mother but it wasn’t necessary.

Parents don’t need to be the teachers.

The material is there, there is support staff available,

there is instructional staff that I could have called at any time if I needed to.


For my grad year they actually organized a graduation ceremony! There were 25 or 30 of us and we got the whole convocation, academic cap and gown.


A typical homeschool day in grade 1 and 2


In grade 1 and 2 I would get up around 8/9 o’clock, I would always have breakfast first and then we would sit down at a desk. If we had worked the day before on the English module my mom would present that to me and ask “do you want to finish your work today? Or do you want to start working on this?” And then we would have small conversations about that. Usually I would pick one and she would immediately ask why. Then we would sit down and work. 

There was really never set times like

“we are going to do school work for 2 hours,

then eat lunch and then do school work for another 2 hours”.


It was “let’s do school work until you’re hungry, let me know when you’re hungry and we have lunch”. After lunch it would be how much we got done in the morning, maybe I finished the whole module and then we would probably take a minute and be where I was progress-wise.


Depending on the day and depending on how far I was, she would present me with another set of module and be like “you should start working on 1b” or it would be “let’s do something else, let’s play a board game, what do you want to do? Do you want to go for a bike ride?”


There’s also other varieties of activities. I was part of a little league soccer group, there was practice for that every now and then. I was playing clarinet as well, my mom would have me give her a performance.


It was structured but not in a very time-sense,

more in order of “you wake up, have breakfast and

then there’ll be school work”.


But the amount of time that was spend on those things was never set, it was very much day by day how things were actually feeling. I think that was probably better.


At different times and on different days you could be in different states of mind. It could be on one day I have the mind set to do math, I just want to do that all day. And with homeschooling you could do that. You can just work on your math all day.


I think that if you wake up on a certain day where that is your mindset, and that could totally happen, when you just wake up and don’t want to do one specific module. You just can’t think about it, your brain is not ready for it, you can’t remember anything about it and it’s just not your day for that module.


But when you’re in the public school and you got that strict regular schedule,

you can’t avoid that.


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