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

Differences between public school and homeschool


It was really different. I was not used to having a set time to be up in the morning. But I guess the biggest difference for me was the structure of the day: It was always this and this time, like math in the morning and English in the afternoon, whatever it was. But the other part of it was a “forced social interaction”, but I guess it’s different for different people.


Social skills in public schools


I think it’s a forced social interaction in public school and it is almost important to have that in certain levels because social skills are important. You need to be able to socialize, you need to be able to talk to each other.


But when it comes to the public school system it’s also a huge crapshoot who you actually end up with. There is not always enough support on that side of it. The school, they teach you how to do subtraction and addition, they teach you how to read and write letters, but they don’t teach you how to interact with people.


It’s like “we’re just going to throw you all in the same room and

lock you up for 6 hours and we’re going to see what happens” – sort of thing.


I think there is not enough nurturing of social skills and inclusiveness of that in the public school system.


Social skills in homeschooling


There was an option to meet with other homeschooled kids. There were a couple field trips that I remember going to in grade 1 and 2. I do remember going out and meeting the other homeschool kids and a few times meeting the teachers that worked at the Alberta Distance Learning Centre as well.


There was a family that lived across the street we were friends with and I would always go over and play video games.


I guess it was the same thing, a forced social interaction but the difference was:

I had the choice.

I could see the people across the street and I could make the decision “do I want to hang out with them, do I want invite them over or do I just want to do school work by myself?” It’s that choice!


I think that is one aspect that is lacking in the public school system:

To not have a choice.


The older the more structure needed


When I did homeschooling in grade 12, I noticed that I really slipped in terms of my marks compared to homeschooling in grade 1 and my entire time in public school because I would sit down and I would have the choice “do I want to do school work?”


But I also had the choice “do I want to go on Facebook or playing a game or go outside and go rollerblading?”


And with those choices available in the same pool, it was much more difficult to force myself to do school work. So I think a certain level of structure is a good thing.


I wouldn’t say I did like it, but at the end of the day what I really liked was learning. I was always that awkward kid – while everyone else hated school and I just enjoyed all of them for the most part.


I’m just thinking back, even being in public school

after grade 3 before Junior High School,

I still relied on my parents for a huge amount

for not necessarily helping me with my score

but just talking about it.


In my teenage years it was a little bit different. I would say, I needed the structure but I also found it in almost a different way when I turned 13. I started playing guitar and after that I spent almost my free-time on that.


When I’m in a certain place I have a very certain mindset. So when I’m in the walls of the school, in the classroom, I have a certain mindset of “I’m there to learn, I’m there to do my school work”. When I’m in the office to work, I’m there to work, it helps me to make money. Home is a completely different story.


Learning methods in homeschooling

In grade 12 it was very similar to the public school system, I was provided with text books and assignment sheets. So it was mostly the same sort of thing. The way most of my classes were structured there would be a period of lecture in the beginning, then some information, then some discussion and then “here is your assignment for it and it’s gonna test it. I’m here for questions”.


I think (in homeschooling) it was mostly the same sort of thing except minus the beginning lecture part of it. So it was more up to me to filter through the text book and find the relevant information, then trying to be tested in the assignment.


That’s the part of education that I dislike because

it’s just a verification of information.


I hardly remember anything from that year because it was mostly “I need to know this set of formulas to do the assignment, I’m going to scroll through the text book and find those formulas and ignore anything else”.


Benefits of homeschooling

In grade 1 and 2, and I think this might has less to do with homeschooling per se but I learned how to educate myself. Being forced was not a negative thing for me.


In public school there is so much stimulation, there is always something happening, there’s other people around, there’s teachers with assignments. You are almost never bored.


But being in a homeschool there were more instances that I was bored.

There were moments where I had nothing given to me to do.

I was able to learn how to deal with that and get lost in my own thoughts.

I don’t think I really would have gotten to figure that out in public school.


At the end of the day I think I do better with structure. When I was doing my grade 1 and 2 I did really well and I think that was mostly because I had my mom there. She didn’t force me to do the work but she would come up and give me a choice. “Do you want to do English? Math? Science?” and then we would do that for the day. It was a choice but a limited choice. And it was still structured like “this time of the day is for doing school work”.


I guess the main benefit, regardless of it was my grade 1 and 2 or my grade 12,

I was able to decide what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it.



At the end of the day, regardless of whether I was in public school or I was in homeschooling the actual end learning goals were still the same.


In both we would have to know how to do Algebra

by the end of our High School math course.

That was just a basic requirement.


So I think in Alberta it’s set up so that people can create their own structure rather than their own course material. And I think it works.


I think homeschooling definitely should be an option!


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