If you have further questions after reading through these, don’t hesitate to call the WISDOM Office at 780-741-2113.
Q. What is Home Schooling?
Q. What is (Parent-Delivered) Home Schooling? (What are the different types of home schooling?)
Q. Why do families home school?
Q. Are parents qualified to teach their children?
Q. Is home schooling legal?
Q. How much time does it take?
Q. How can we teach several children at once?
Q. What about socialization?
Q. What about my child's special interests?
Q. Can Home Schoolers get a high school diploma and attend university or college?
Q. What materials are available?
Q. What methods should I use?
Q. What about children with special needs?
Q. How does WISDOM receive, divide - and use - educational funding grants?
Q. What are some difficulties we might face when home schooling our children?
Q. How do we get started home schooling?
A. With parenthood comes the responsibility of educating our children. We begin teaching from the very first day, helping our children to find security in us; and then throughout their early years teaching them to walk, speak, feed themselves, toilet train, along with the myriad of life skills a young child comes to know. Reading, writing, numbers, science, and social studies are no harder to teach, and up until the last century, the home was the environment where these skills were taught. Schools as we know them were established primarily out of charity toward the children of illiterate parents. The methods employed in teaching children at home differ substantially from those required in a classroom and generally tend to be more informal and open-ended. Rather than organizing their time around managing a classroom, home schoolers focus upon individual student strengths and weaknesses and organize each day around making the most of the learning opportunities at hand. Home schooling is not merely school at home; it is a way of life.
A. The term used by the Alberta Department of Education to describe traditional home schooling is “Home Education.” Parents who “home educate” retain full authority to plan and provide schooling to their children. Parents have the right to teach according to their faith, goals, and time-lines; free to follow their vision rather than the vision of someone outside of their home.
In a “Shared Responsibility" program, the parents teach part of the program, and a school teaches the remainder. On-line schooling is considered a school-delivered program, with the school taking responsibility for the content, scheduling, and grading of the student. Fully school-delivered programs generate full funding for the associate board, and the parents have little to no input into what is being taught.
WISDOM has seen the success that results from full parental control of home schooling and affirms the parents' right to teach their own children. Unfortunately, parents often lose confidence in their own abilities once they have deferred to a school to provide the at-home education to their children. Many students in school-delivered at-home programs find themselves back in school within a few years. This contributes to WISDOM's decision to support only Traditional home schooling; properly speaking: only “Home Education.” We will work with you to meet your goals and fulfill your regulatory responsibility. We will assist you with program choices and other important education decisions, but we maintain that you are the primary educator, and you call the shots for your children.
For more information about different types of learning at home, such as Shared Responsibility or School-Delivered/Aligned, please click here.
A. Parents make the decision not to delegate the education of their children to others but rather commit the time and energy themselves. Families have a variety of reasons for home schooling. WISDOM's founders began because they wanted to integrate their children's overall character and moral development with their education, realizing that "if their prayer life and the study of faith was not in order, education became fruitless.” Many parents who begin to home school for purely academic reasons soon find themselves growing in other areas as well. Relational problems that are less visible to parents when their children are away all day become far more evident when the family lives in close proximity day in and day out. In a homeschooling setting, parents more effectively identify and deal with these formerly obscured issues. Although family life seems more demanding in the short term, home education leads to strong relationships and renewed capacity for learning. Approaches to academics vary, but most home schooling families tend to emphasize a good, wholesome life, growing in respect for one another.
- There is opportunity to centre the daily schedule around prayer/meditation and faith study, rather than these becoming relegated to "when there's time".
- Each student's curriculum can be custom designed.
- Parents may conscientiously choose social activities.
- Parents can build in time to think, plan, explore, question; all within a safe environment.
- Schooling can be scheduled around the parent's work, family responsibilities, etc.
- Schooling can be designed to fit the learning and teaching styles of the family, some structured, some flexible, all unique to some degree.
- Communication between family members is enhanced.
- Tutorial-style education helps each child achieve their full potential.
A. An important difference between you and a classroom teacher is the love you have for your child and the fact that your educational commitment is not one academic year, but a lifetime. These two points give you a distinct advantage, though it sometimes takes a bit of adjustment before you can make the most of this advantage. Confidence grows with experience, but a cooperative school board can shorten the time it takes to gain your feet. Research has proven that the academic achievement of parents has no bearing upon the success achieved by their home schooled children. If you can read and write, you can teach your children as effectively as can the parent with a PhD in Education. Research demonstrates that a child's academic potential is governed by factors other than the educational level of his parents. A loving parent is the nurturing ingredient that will bring a child to full potential.
Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, has conducted numerous studies on the effectiveness of home schooling, demonstrating that the average home school student's academic achievement was very high. Dr. Ray says, "The tutorial method has always been the superior method for education of children. Home schooling epitomizes this method, providing the essentials for success--a close relationship between the student and teacher, motivation, flexibility, and individualization."
Several resources are available to give you the preparation and training you need:
- The Successful Homeschool Handbook, Home Grown Kids, and Better Late Than Early, by Raymond and Dorothy Moore
- The Three R's by Ruth Beechick
- How to Home School by Gayle Graham
- Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Clay & Sally Clarkson
- Speak to at least one veteran home schooler (try the WISDOM Parent Support Council, if you don't know anyone who home schools).
- Home school conventions, workshops, and curriculum fairs provide practical instruction in teaching techniques unique to home instruction.
- Support groups can greatly encourage and help you through the exchange of ideas. (From the founder: "Personally, in the early years, I derived my greatest benefit by having other adults whose judgement I trusted, experience the progress my children were making. Their perspective was extremely valuable at times when I was too close to perceive how much my children had actually improved.")
A. Each province and state sets its own laws governing home education. In Alberta, if parents intend to home educate, they must notify their own resident school board, or an associate board or associate private school.
WISDOM Home Schooling is the home education department of The Gilbertine Academy, which is operated by The Gilbertine Institute, Calgary, and is operated by professionals who are personally experienced in home education. WISDOM complies with the regulations of the Education Act while helping to make home schooling easier for parents and more effective. Accountability serves to keep us organized. Look for an associate board or associate private school that has understanding and experienced staff, who can look at your family from a personal perspective.
A few home education administrations in Alberta make a point of hiring home educating facilitators and/or staff. WISDOM makes it our policy. All of our facilitators, and full time office staff, were either home educated themselves or are home educating parents.
Legislation is continually being reviewed in each province, making it important for you to work with home school organizations, especially the Alberta Home Education Association and others like it to aid the passage of favourable legislation. Constitutional rights to liberty and privacy and the free exercise of religion under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee parental rights to educate their children according to their convictions. However, school boards have ruled inconsistently in applying these rights to home education. WISDOM helps families comply with the law without compromising integrity as parents and educators. It is important to obtain a copy of the Alberta Home Education Regulation. Many problems can be avoided by being accurately informed and by using tact and respect in dealing with authorities, or other people who don't understand home education. Consider joining the Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada. They are an excellent ally in the effort to maintain parental rights.
A. Although teaching your own children does require a time commitment, it isn't as demanding as you might expect. You can achieve a great deal more in far less time than required in an institutional setting. The time required will depend upon the approach you take and the resources you use, but you will likely begin with a half to one hour, per day, for the early grades, three hours by junior high, and older children, mostly working independently, will spend up to six hours through high school. Mature students usually study music, perhaps work part-time, often read more than average and spend time preparing for post-secondary work or study. Be aware that, if you are taking more time than seems necessary, you may have imported "school" into your home. Due to the number of students in a classroom, schools attempt to teach by the use of packaged tasks or "curriculum." Fortunately, children learn more and faster if they are allowed to function in the practical world rather than just studying about it in a textbook. Parents will find that capitalizing on informal teachable moments throughout the day will allow them to avoid lenthy formal study times, especially for younger child. Above all, a balance of practical activity and good reading material forms the heart of an effective education.
A. Science, history, religion and literature can be taught to various levels at once, demanding more complex thinking, more lucid expression, and more effective writing of the older children and less of their younger siblings. Older and younger children can gain much by working together for the good of all (consider the excellent education received by students in one-room schoolhouses). Children who are close in age can do all their work together. Try doing a circuit with your children, giving each the individual help needed to assist the child to work independently.
A. Once you have home schooled a year or two you will look back at this question and say, "what was all the fuss about socialization?" Because most children in western culture spend most of their time among same-age peers, we have come to assume that this is normal. Have you ever wondered why the Creator put children in families where nobody (unless you are a multiple) is your age? The best environment within which to grow socially is a multi-age group. There is significant benefit to maturing in an environment where you must interact daily with those older and younger than you; responsible for the good of each other and learning from others at the same time (this includes the parents). Healthy relationships are best taught, demonstrated, and reinforced at home and in service to others as family outreach. As you get to know other home schoolers you will be impressed at the responsibility these children bring to their relationships. Their well-mannered confidence is a tribute to the environment their parents create. One of the greatest dangers to our children is peer dependency. It is only after years of careful formation that our children can be a testimony to others without being negatively influenced by them. The home is the environment for this careful formation. A recent US study has verified that the self-concept of home schooled children is significantly more positive than average. These young people know who they are.
A. A wealth of experiences outside the home can supplement and enrich home education. Field trips organized by your family or in cooperation with one or more other families offer excellent opportunities to share fellowship and learning. The classroom of the world around you is the one that can teach you the most. Books are an excellent means of learning about those things the student can't access personally but, where possible, home schooling parents can immerse their children in the practical aspects of life, from pond life, to museums, to doing laundry and dishes. The internet provides a plethora of learning opportunities and resources. Other interests such as musical training and amateur sports tend to fit well in a home education schedule.
A. In the USA, more than 200 institutions welcome home-educated students, not based upon official academic records, but rather upon individual merit. They are assisted by the track record established by previous home schooled students, who tend to be mature and capable of thinking for themselves, proving to be independent workers who set their own goals and schedules. Many prestigious universities (including Yale) encourage home schoolers to apply and offer admission based upon an entrance exam.
In Alberta, home schooled students may earn high school credits and graduate with an Alberta Diploma. Conversely, they can set their own criteria for graduation and finish with a WISDOM Parent Authorized Diploma. There are different entrance requirements for various post-secondary institutions, but all are attainable through home schooling. All universities and colleges (even the ones who have no policy for home schoolers) have a "special admissions" option that looks at the individual merit of an applicant and can admit anyone who can demonstrate ability. For some situations the SAT can be used for college or university entrance. Read: Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax. The parents did not attempt to follow a typical school curriculum, and their 3 oldest sons entered Harvard. The children enjoyed a blend of wilderness subsistence farming and good books. Also be sure to ask the WISDOM Office for a copy of our High School Information Book.
A. Many common textbooks are available from curriculum publishers and from other sources, offering depth and a logical order of topics. Work texts combine textbook information with exercises in consumable write-in books. Unit Studies allow a parent to integrate the teaching of values, skills, Science, and Social Studies... by following specific themes. Using a Classical Approach, children progress from memory and skills to advanced reasoning and expressive use of language. When applying the Principle Approach teachers and students keep notebooks containing Bible perspectives and principles, personal applications, and other specific information on the subject. Whatever the approach, don't forget the extreme value of good reading material & real life experiences. Once a student has learned the basics of language and numbers, abundant learning comes through reading good literature and engaging in good discussions. Remember to use those normal everyday activities like laundry, chores, music, and dishes to teach skills and character development; and great books combined with probing discussion to teach thinking.
A. Your first year will require a calculated guess. Many parents choose to simply use what their home schooling friends are using. You may not be in a position to make curriculum choices until you have actually worked with each child to discover learning style, strengths, and weaknesses, interests, and abilities. You will also discover your own teaching style, the demands upon your time, priorities, etc. Whenever possible, you will take time in your first year to talk to other home schoolers and look at resources. By the time you begin your second year, you will be more confident to make many of your schooling decisions. Don't forget to keep researching different methods of education.
A. Neuro-diverse (ADHD, dyslexic, Asperger or Autism-spectrum, anxiety, Tourette's syndrome, and gifted) children are particularly well-served by home schooling by working at their own pace with material that is suited to their individual needs. Learning is best served in an environment where the student has a strong relationship with the teacher, and nowhere can this be achieved as effectively as within the context of the family. Consistency and discipline are the key strengths in special needs home education. Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, affirms, "Research comparing home educated to public school learning disabled students found higher rates of academic engaged time, and greater academic gains were made by the home educated. ... parents, even without special education training, provided powerful instructional environments at home...." WISDOM offers parent training for teaching neuro-diverse students. (See more here.)
A. For each student whose parent has given notification by September 30, we (Gilbertine Institute) receive a total grant of $1700. The parent may fund learning resources by claiming up to 50% of the total of the funds ($850), per student, per year. Alberta Education allocates the funding to the school authority at a rate of 10% per month from September through June. We make half available to parents in Fall and half in Spring. The student support portion of the funding covers facilitator and staff salaries and operational costs, as well as subsidizes additional services and supports that WISDOM provides to families.
Some families choose to not access funding, and some families choose to allocate their unclaimed funds to The Gilbertine Institute for use in the WISDOM department for family support. These families help us provide for unfunded 'rescue' families who join us throughout the school year, as well as contribute toward extra help for special needs consultation, tutoring, and family counselling.
A. Here are some possible difficulties:
- Lack of Confidence: Like many things, until you actually do it, home schooling may seem daunting. Once you begin to take ownership and step out in faith, this will no longer seem as big a task.
- Fear of Being Unable to Work with Your Own Children: If you do not have your children's respect you will have trouble getting their cooperation. Gaining their respect through proper discipline, training, and example should be the parents' top priority, whether or not they are home schooling; but home schooling can provide the incentive and the best setting to accomplish this. In order to teach your children, you must have authority over them.
- Inadequate Time and Energy: Teaching at home requires an investment of time and energy, especially by mothers. Self-discipline and good organization will help ensure a well-run household. Daily prayer, good planning, a daily schedule, and a chore list can keep school and housework organized. Children can be a great help when trained to assist with the cooking, laundry, and household chores; and older children make excellent teacher assistants,helping their siblings.
- Lack of Commitment: Families who are home schooling only for convenience or because it is popular may soon drop out, unless they develop the conviction that home schooling is best for their family and is God's will for them.
- Social Pressure: Pressure from well-meaning friends or relatives can be a real deterrent. Make a well-informed decision and then stand on your convictions. Sometimes, after watching you from a distance, family and friends will become attracted to the difference they see in your children; sometimes they won't. Don't get hung-up on convincing them; rather continue to focus upon your job. Beware of the social pressure of wanting to be like other people in your home school support group. Priorities and activities that provide success in one home, may spell disaster in another. It is very easy to get to the point of over-doing field trips, lessons, and get-togethers.
- Financial Investment: Remember, in many early North American schools, there were few books available, and the education received surpassed that received in many cases today. The misconception that home schooling is expensive has been driven by: 1) Parents who search outside of themselves and their home for the "perfect curriculum", and 2) Government Funding; the fact that money is available makes parents feel the need to purchase programs which may not be the best fit for their children. They buy an oversupply of curricula that they quickly become slaves to. As an example, The 3 R's by Ruth Beechik can be the only book you use for grades one to three. Don't over-buy. Use funding less for curriculum, and mostly to build up a good library.
A. Pray (or discern in your own way), and, if you have a spouse, agree together as team on your decision to home school. Then, set long term goals for your children, writing down what you ultimately want for them. Once you have done this you will have accomplished the most important foundational task for your home school. From there, you can work backward from these goals to decide how to structure your time and tasks right now. Above all, start simply, and avoid trying to create a typical school in your home. This isn't "school at home". This is working toward providing the best possible education for your child.