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Interest in homeschooling is growing in Quebec –

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education confirms a nearly 24% increase in the number of homeschooled children since last year on the same date. The pandemic is forcing some parents to consider alternatives to the traditional school environment for their child, according to the Quebec Association for Home Education (AQED).

The number of children enrolled in home schooling for the start of the school year rose from 5,964 children in 2019 to 7,367 in 2020, according to figures provided by the communications department of the MEES at Log Access, August 18.

For Marine Dumond, doctoral student and lecturer in Education at the University of Montreal and president of the AQED, there is no doubt that parents are curious to learn more about this mode of education. It notes a 22% increase in its membership since mid-March and more than 1,000 new members on the association’s public Facebook group.

“At the start of the pandemic, parents were caught off guard. They mostly asked questions about how to telework with children, but since the beginning of the summer the questions have revolved around legal questions, the steps to follow and the resources available to teach the subjects at home, ”underlines Marine Dumond.

A distinction must be made between homeschooling and distance education. With distance education, the school and school service centers remain responsible for education in the eyes of the Ministry of Education, while with homeschooling, the parent-educator is primarily responsible for the project. learning of his child and the main interlocutor of the Ministry.

One of the peculiarities raised by the results of a socio-demographic study of families educating at home in Quebec, lies in the fact that the discourse of Quebec parents-educators does not seem to be dominated by a religious, anti-state or philosophical voice like In other countries.

For all the participants of this study carried out by Christine Brabant of the University of Sherbrooke in 2004, “the main factors at the base of this choice are a desire to pursue a family educational project, an objection to the modes of organization of the school system, a desire to offer enrichment and a concern for the socio-emotional development of children ”.

Less constraints and more freedom. In times of pandemic, the security aspect also seems to tip the scales for some parents.

Home educators speak of a slower, less hectic pace of life. A more personalized learning allowing to overcome certain difficulties or to go faster, if the child understands well. They also invoke the possibility of traveling and making more field trips without being limited by the school calendar. In short, less constraints and more freedom. In times of pandemic, the security aspect also seems to tip the scales for some parents.

“I encourage other parents to do home education, but with a little caveat. It must be understood that this is a family commitment. The whole family must be part of the project. You can work, but you have to spend time with the children and with the support groups. It is the parent who must travel to do activities. And if that doesn’t work, we always have the option of putting our child back in school, ”testifies Dominique Nadeau, mother-educator of six children.

The upsurge in parents’ choice of home education could force the government to repeatedly support associations such as AQED, which is struggling to provide all the services required by parent educators.

“In my opinion, we must offer better support for families who start education at home for health reasons or other”, explains Marine Dumond.

Almost two-thirds of AQED members have special needs or learning disabilities. At the political level, the reinstatement of La Table de concertation nationale in matters of home education, suspended two years ago, would be relevant at the moment, according to the president of the AQED. This Table brought together the main actors involved in the delegation of children’s education, in whole or in part, namely parent-educator associations, school service centers, professional associations such as remedial teachers and university researchers.

Home schooling… where to start?

For information on homeschooling, contact:

Department of Home Education, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, 600, rue Fullum, 8th floor, Montreal (QC) H2K 4L1 | 514 787-3583 ext 5265 | 1 866 747-6626 | Fax : 514 864-8921

Provincial associations and groups to facilitate networking and help with obligations:

Quebec Home Education Association (AQED):

Christian Association of Parent-Educators of Quebec (ACPEQ)

Canadian Homeschooling Legal Association (HSLDA)

Network of Democratic Schools of Quebec (RÉDAQ)

Suggested readings: Home education in Quebec (2018) and Home education (2019) written by: Marie-Noëlle Marineau, Julie Roux, Julie R-Bordeleau, and Marie-Eve Boudreault

The legal framework

In Quebec, any child who receives appropriate home education is exempt from compulsory school attendance, provided the conditions provided for by the applicable legal framework are met. This framework aims in particular to ensure that this mode of instruction contributes to the development of the child’s full potential, to his educational success and to his qualification for post-secondary studies or his integration into the labor market. Thus, the fact of receiving education at home should allow the child to have access to quality learning.

The Department of Home Education of the Ministry can assist parent-educators in the development of learning projects and follow the progress of the children, examine the reports and offer information relating to the ministerial tests and the certification of studies. . Finally, it assesses the progress of the learning of children for whom the parent educators have submitted a portfolio to the Ministry.

For their part, the School Service Centers should provide children who receive home education with free access to textbooks approved by a school administration, teaching materials and certain additional services (depending on availability). . The former school boards are also taking measures to allow children to be assessed free of charge with a view to obtaining the credits for the issue of a diploma recognized by the Ministry.