In this article, I will explain how my family registered me for homeschooling, how to fill out the registration forms, differentiating between teacher directed and parent directed homeschooling (and choosing what's right for your child), and where to register for homeschooling in Alberta.
My family and I chose Argyll Centre (which offers both in person public education, teacher directed homeschooling, and parent directed homeschooling) because at the time, it was the only place that offered an accredited way of registering your child for homeschooling, while still being under the umbrella of the Alberta public education system. When we went to the school to register me for the start of 7th Grade, the school gave us a series of forms to sign that included the Home Education Regulation Form c/o Alberta Education, where you must fill in the student's and parent's name, birthdate, contact information, etc... You are also given a form that asks whether your child will attend as a teacher directed student or a parent directed student. This form must be updated annually to keep your student registered for homeschooling (which you can do by contacting your school, or by checking Schoolzone for regular updates). You may also be required to fill out a Student Registration Form.
Whichever program you choose, both teacher directed and parent directed programs offer the following:
- A student ID card issued annually (for picking up textbooks)
- Reimbursements for school purchases (up to ~$850 dollars annually for textbooks, calculators, art supplies, etc...) which can be accessed by submitting a copy of all the receipts for school supplies that you purchased within that given year to your school's office. For Argyll Home School Centre, you must attach a copy of your receipts and list the total amount. The reimbursement form, and the supplemental funding guidelines can be found here.
- Bi-annual student progress reviews with a teacher from the school you are registered with that discuss the student's progress throughout each term of the school year (which are booked in advance and are usually virtual through Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, or your choice of video chatting)
- Parents (and students) must complete a Home Education Plan (HEP) and a Parent Summary at the beginning or end of each school term discussing the curricular outcomes of that specified term (ex. what was learned in Grade 10 term 1), how the student did (their strengths and weaknesses), and the student's average mark for each subject. I have attached a blank Home Education Plan and Parent Summary to download for convenience, and I have also listed two separate articles for how to fill out a Home Education Plan and how to fill out a Parent Summary.
A teacher directed program (also called blended home education) is a method of at home learning that is under the umbrella of a teacher from your registered school. Your child attends online classes with a series of other homeschooled teacher directed students, it's just like being at an in person class except on the computer. In my experience, you have to download a lot of software (the Moodle, a program called Blackboard, a testing program called Proctorio, and some other items that will be provided to you), and once your online class is done, the teacher will post your assignments in either the Moodle, or in Google classroom, provide a rubric, and a project deadline, and you will submit your work through one of the above designated programs (Google classroom, or the Moodle). In my personal opinion of experience, this was way too difficult, the teachers had a hard time reaching the needs of individual students, the programs kept crashing (which is NOT what you want during a timed exam), and by the time everyone was on the same page, two hours had passed and the assignments folder was crammed with dozens of projects because the online class took so long to set up. Granted, not all teacher directed classes are like this, but I believe that parents should seriously consider going the parent-directed route if they have the time to dedicate to teaching their kids one-on-one; blended programs are often a bit frenzied, and if you're homeschooling because you want your child to have a more individualized education, you should definitely go parent directed.
A parent directed program is a method of at home learning that is still under the guidance of the school your child is registered with, except it is the parent's responsibility to teach the child their curriculum. (Don't worry, this can still be managed if you parents have full-time jobs). At the beginning of the school year, students are given a list of school books that they will need to complete their studies for that year (the school often rents them out to students using student ID cards, but many parents choose to just get a list of names and ISBN numbers and go buy the textbooks online). After your child is registered for parent directed learning, it is up to the parent to set a schedule for their student to follow, help teach and assist your child with the concepts learned in their textbooks (whether that means reading with your child, or finding instructional videos or lesson plans online), and the parent is responsible for setting up a curriculum for the student to follow. You can easily find lesson plans, curriculum outcomes, and resources for students, teachers and parents to follow in my video resources article and website resources article.
Parent directed homeschooling is the closest definition of educational freedom that is still under the regulation of the Alberta government and the public education system, and allows for variety and freedom when it comes to school assignments. While you still have to follow the guidelines and curriculum of the student's grade closely, parents are able to give their kids a bit more freedom when it comes to doing their schoolwork, such as setting the schedule (maybe you don't want to start school until 10 am, and work to 6pm, or maybe you want to divide your time between the afternoons and evenings to make room for extracurriculars in the morning). You set the schedule, (even if that means your student does a few days straight of one subject to get a big project done quickly), and if your family wants to go on vacation, you can! Many students find homeschooling comforting, because they can learn in their pajamas if they want, sitting on the couch next to their pets. In fact, homeschooling can actually ease the anxiety of learning, because you are in the comfort of your own home, there's no peer pressure, and as long as parents, teachers and students are motivated and disciplined in getting assignments done, you are able to let the student pick what assignments they want to do out of their textbooks, and assign more creative projects tailored to students interests, while still being aligned with Alberta Education's curriculum.
Some examples of projects I have done personally including doing dozens of online presentations with special effects for English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science classes, creating posters and comics, creating iMovie's for English and Social Studies assignments that are posted on my Youtube channel, building miniature models of houses or skyscrapers to demonstrate Science concepts like designing a Hydraulic elevator, or creating a circuit system to light up a doll house, designing floorplans for the set of a story I read in English Language Arts, and writing short stories, designing brochures and magazines and writing poetry for certain assignments. It was up to myself and my Mom as a homeschooled teacher to decide which questions and projects were assigned to me out of my textbooks and lesson plans over the years. We were able to dedicate a whole day to a project without having interference from a noisy classroom, or having to alternate classes and periods. I go into more details of the adventures of my homeschooling here.
Whether you choose to go the teacher directed route or the parent directed route of homeschooling, you should explore all of the options, and most importantly you should review the following documentation: (especially those with a *)
(Note, this form has since been updated to include both teacher directed and parent directed homeschooling families. The form for submitting receipts for reimbursements can be found here.)
Hopefully this points you in the right direction for homeschooling registration. If you want a custom individualized education that focuses on your strengths, and builds the foundations of critical thinking, problem solving, and ingenuity & innovation, then homeschooling is definitely the right choice for your family. If you are in or from Alberta, and would like to register for homeschooling, you can contact Argyll Centre.