When you’re just beginning to homeschool, sometimes it helps to have a bit of a roadmap to start off with. There are some important things you need to know and do below.
1) Know the Laws
First of all, read our information page on Homeschool Laws to find out about your legal rights and responsibilities.
BCHEA provides links and objective information on distance education/electronically delivered programs as a public service to those parents considering a government-funded program. While the students in these programs are not defined as “homeschoolers” by the Ministry of Education, these types of programs are one of the home-based options for enrolled students in BC. To understand the legal differences, read our Educational Options in British Columbia article. See below for some questions to consider while making this decision. Above all, make an informed choice based on objective information.
2) Read from Good Resources
The BCHEA site is chock-full of clear and objective information. This is a good place to start reading. We can specifically recommend, after this page, that you read through the above-mentioned articles, the FAQs, and surf through some of our Helpful Links, particularly the government links. From there, you can browse around at your discretion.
As for books, your public library should have a few of the classic homeschool books on their shelves. If not, you can always ask for an inter-library loan, or borrow some from fellow home educators (see next point). You may even wish to purchase one or two to get you started.
Try to pick a few general books, one or two on learning and/or teaching styles, and a couple on methods or philosophies of homeschooling. The list is not exhaustive or current by any means – your local support group is a great place to get recommendations for good books to read.
Besides books, this site and others on the internet will offer very good information – for free! Do a search at Google for ‘homeschool’ or ‘home school’ (both spellings could be relevant!) or other such keywords. (For great Google search tips, see their help page.)
3) Join a Local Support Group
We cannot stress enough the importance of attending local support group meetings. You’ll meet a wide variety of people who are already homeschooling their children and have both experience and enthusiasm to pass on to you. Your local support group is the best place to go to ask those questions that inevitably surface and you can gain valuable insight into curricula, methodology, scheduling, record keeping, planning, or whatever other issues you might deal with. We have an informative article, Finding or Starting a Support Group, as well as links to help you find a contact name and information for a group in your area.
If you do not have a support group in your area, and know of another family or two who are also homeschooling, you might want to consider starting a new group. It can start (and has!) with two moms meeting for coffee once a week or once a month to talk over their homeschooling joys and concerns. If you are wanting to do this, read through our Finding or Starting a Support Group page. Do remember to let BCHEA know if you start a new group so that we can refer others in your area to you when we get inquiries.
Also join these BC-wide support groups on Facebook:
- BC Homeschoolers/ Section 12/13 Registered Homeschoolers
- BC Home Learners: homeschoolers, DLers, unschoolers
4) Register your Child
If your child is between the ages of 6 and 16, you’ll need to register your child as a homeschooler to comply with our BC laws. You also need to register children younger than 6 whom you are removing from school mid year. For more information, see Educational Options in BC. Also, if you are looking for an enrollment option through a public or independent school DL program, see below for some things to consider.
Other Things You Can Do
BCHEA works very hard on your behalf to provide solid information, act as government liaison for registered homeschoolers, distribute a newsletter, and uphold Sections 12 and 13 of our School Act – all on a volunteer basis. We appreciate your membership! And our yearly fees are by donation so very economical! Find out more about us and consider – you can register right from our site.
Decide Whether to Register or Enroll
Though no one can predict the future, sometimes it helps to think ahead to what potential situations might be like. First, read through BCHEA’s Educational Options in British Columbia to see the differences between the home-based learning choices in BC right now. Then consider the following questions. Note that most questions could be asked of either enrollment or registration, depending upon how the chosen program is implemented.
- Do you cherish full autonomy where your children’s education is concerned? If so, you should register your children as homeschoolers under Section 12.
- Do you have religious convictions that you wish to be a foundational part of your children’s education? If so, you should consider and option that will allow for that – i.e., not a public school program, but registration as a homeschooler (full autonomy) or enrollment in an independent school or their DL program.
- Is home education an experiment for you or will it be a temporary option? Will your child(ren) be going back into a public school setting in the near future? If so, you might want to consider enrollment in a public or independent school DL program, or with a Distance Ed office near you.
- Do you work better on your own? Would you rather plan and administer a program either of your choosing or your own design? Or would you rather have everything outlined for you, step by step? Either registration or enrollment can offer you both of these options. If you register your children, you can choose to purchase curricula that comes as a “whole package” with teacher’s guides, scope and sequences, etc., often with wonderful support from the publisher or online user groups via e-mail lists or message boards. If you enroll in a public or independent DL program, you will automatically have to follow provincial learning outcomes and the teacher will provide you with the required materials and tests.
- What is your educational philosophy? Some philosophies may conflict with the different educational options in BC and decisions would have to be made accordingly.
- What are your children’s learning styles? Will they thrive in the atmosphere of your chosen educational option? Will it give them enough freedom? Stifle them? Hold them back? Give them needed structure?
- Are you able to work well under the direction of a teacher? Would that be helpful and beneficial, or would it be intimidating and nerve-wracking?
These questions are provided as food for thought. This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the kinds of questions one might think about, but hopefully it will be a springboard for good discussions and planning. Make the decision that is right for your family, that fits with your educational philosophy, and that does not conflict with any deeply held personal convictions or faith. That will start you on the road to a positive home education experience.
We know that this is a big step for you – we’ve all been there at one point, too! But British Columbia has many, many parents who got over the start-up jitters and are successfully educating their children at home. You’ll certainly experience a learning curve, especially in the first year, but with a support group around you and BCHEA to provide objective information to you, we know you CAN do it!