We regularly get questions and we love answering them! Here are our most frequently asked questions. If you've got a question not answered here, please contact us!
Is homeschooling legal?
Yes it's legal. Please see our steps to getting started to find out how to homeschool in Ontario.
If I homeschool, can my child ever go back to public school?
Yes. In Ontario, children are placed in grade by birth year, so there is no proof of homeschooling required, and testing is optional. Principals and teachers may request to assess your child to best place them in a classroom, especially when starting high school or if there are special needs.
We just moved. Do I need to send in a letter of intent to our new area school board?
PPM 131, the policy that directs school boards in dealing with homeschoolers, says that parents are to send their notice of their intent to homeschool to "the school board in whose jurisdiction [your] child last attended school" or was registered to attend (if they had been registered before starting kindergarten).
If you have already withdrawn your child, and you have sent in your notice of intent to your child's last school board, you do not need to send in another letter of notice to either the old or new school board.
If the old school board contacts you and requests another letter of notice of your intent to homeschool, you may either respond with a letter of notice of intent to homeschool, or with a notice of your moving.
If you are moving OUT of Ontario, to a new province or country, you will need to follow the legal requirements of your new residence.
My child is not registered and never attended public school. Do I need to send in a letter of intent?
Since you have not registered your child with the school board, and your child does not attend school, the Education Act does not require you to notify any governmental body of your intent to homeschool.
However, it is courteously respectful to send in written notification of your intent to homeschool if the school board contacts you and inquires about why your child is not attending school. Please see our questions on notices of intent to homeschool below.
Must I follow the Ontario curriculum?
No. You can design your own educational program, however best suits your child, your family, and your goals for homeschooling.
Where do I find the Ontario curriculum?
Ontario does not have a specific curriculum, but instead has curriculum guidelines. You can find a copy of those on the Ontario Ministry of Education website here.
Can I legally homeschool other people's children? Can my children be homeschooled by someone other than me?
Homeschooling other people's children is a legally gray area, and covered under several scenerios:
Tutoring: where the child(ren) are taught or helped with academic work on a regular, part-time basis, for a set fee.
Childcare: where child(ren) are cared for on a regular basis, both full or part-time. Educational programs may be offered by the childcare provider. All rules regarding unlicensed or licensed childcare apply, including the rules on the number of children allowed to be cared for at any one time.
Private school: caring for and providing an educational program during regular school hours for 5 or more children of compulsory school age (6 years or older).
A private school is defined in the Education Act as “an institution at which instruction is provided at any time between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on any school day for five or more pupils who are of or over compulsory school age in any of the subjects of the elementary or secondary school courses of study” (and is not a government-funded school).
It’s unclear whether or not an educational program operating out of a home is considered an “institution” in this context (consult a lawyer for legal clarification on that) but assuming it is, you need to determine whether you meet any of the other criteria for being considered a school. There are fines for failing to register as a private school when you meet the criteria of the definition. (See http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/privsch/ and http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/privsch/PrivateSchools_PolicyManual.pdf)
You would not be considered a private school if any of the following apply:
- you have fewer than 5 students of compulsory school age (including your own children)
- or you only teach subjects that are not part of the Ontario curriculum
- or your classes are before 9am or after 4pm or on the weekend
I'm on social assistance. Can I homeschool?
Yes, as long as you meet all the benefit eligibility requirements. If you're on Ontario Works, you must still remain available for work or training, and will need to find a "babysitting" solution for the hours you are involved in OW job-related activities.
I'm disabled. Can I homeschool?
Yes. Directive 2.2, Who Is Eligible: Dependent Children states that, "Children under 18 who live with their parents, and meet the definition of dependent child, are included as part of the ODSP benefit unit." Dependent children are defined as "under the age of 18, residing with a parent who is an applicant/recipient or their spouse, AND the parent in the benefit unit receives the Canada Child Benefit on behalf of the child (or is eligible to receive it), or is responsible for the primary care & control/shares custody of the child, as determined by the Director.
Occasionally, an ODSP worker will request proof of homeschooling with a letter of acknowledgement of your notice of intent to homeschool from the school board. You can refer them to Directive 2.2, and point out that issues of school attendance are no longer involved in determining the eligibility of dependent children to be included in the benefit unit. If they insist and remove your child from the calculations, you can ask for an internal review, followed, if necessary, by an appeal.
Can I work full-time and homeschool?
Yes. Homeschooling does not need to take place during regular school hours (9-3). As long as your child(ren) are appropriately cared for during your working hours, you can homeschool (whatever that looks like for you) anytime.
Can I homeschool my preschooler?
Yes, if you like. Please view our page on Homeschooling the Early Years for a more detailed answer.
Can I homeschool my high schooler?
Yes. Please view our page on Homeschooling High School for a more detailed answer.
Will my homeschooled high school student get a high school diploma?
Homeschooling families can issue their graduating high school students diplomas, but they will not be accredited or recognized as OSSDs by the Ministry of Education.
To get an OSSD, your high school student must complete high school using an accredited Ontario high school. There are several options available for homeschooling. Please view our Online Schools resources for our list.
Can my homeschooled high school student go to post secondary?
Yes. Please view our page on Homeschoolers and Post Secondary Education for a more detailed answer.
Is there funding for homeschool in Ontario?
No. Unlike other provinces and countries, Ontario has no funding for homeschoolers.
We also have very little regulation or reporting requirements. Often funding comes with "strings". Most homeschooling families in Ontario prefer the "no-strings" approach in Ontario.
Are there any tax credits specific to homeschooling in Ontario? in Canada?
Homeschooling families are eligible for the Canada Child Benefit, the Disability Tax Credit, the Ontario Child Benefit and any other tax credits or benefits related to families and children in Ontario and Canada, but they are not homeschooling specific.
Can my child attend school part-time?
Part-time attendance is legal but is at the discretion of the principal, sometimes overridden by the school board. Please view our page on Part Time Homeschool for a more detailed answer.
Is the PPM 131 a law?
No. Policy/Program Memoranda are not laws. They are designed to bring clarity to existing laws, and provide direction to the relevant agencies on how to carry out the law.
PPM 131 is intended to provide direction to school boards and parents regarding sections of the Education Act.
A PPM is not law and one cannot be prosecuted for not following the policy.
What happens after I send in a written notification of my intent to homeschool?
The school board receiving a notification of intent to homeschool is directed to respond to it in writing with an acknowledgement receipt, and make no further contact. They are to assume satisfactory education is being given to the child(ren) concerned, unless there is compelling evidence to suggest that satisfactory instruction is not taking place.
What happens if I choose not to send in a written notification of my intent to homeschool?
If your child is not known to the school board, in practice, nothing will happen.
If they become aware of you, for whatever reason, they may contact you and request written confirmation of your intent to homeschool your child(ren). Because PPM 131 is a policy document, and not a law, it is up to you as to whether you will provide this written confirmation. However, it makes sense to keep all contact between you and a governmental agency in writing, for documentation purposes, so you will, at the very least, want to confirm that your child is not truant, at the very least.
You can choose to keep your confirmation as a written letter, or you can use a form template. The school board may provide you with a form, or you can use the OFTP sample form template (found here).
You do not have to provide any more information than the basic identifying information (name and gender of child, birthdate, contact information), and if you choose to use the form provided by your school board, you may cross out any extra information requested.
You do not have to fill out any other forms, take phone calls or meet in person with any staff from the school, school board or Ministry of Education, without notice of a formal investigation taking place.
What happens if I don't fill out the school board's forms and send in the requested information?
The school board representative will document every effort they make to have you comply with their request to supply further information. They must keep a record of their efforts of communication (phone calls, registered letters, etc.) as proof that they have done this.
We suggest that families do the same. Document, for your records, all contacts you have with your board. (Keep a copy of all letters sent and received. Make a list of phone calls, logging whom you spoke with and the main topic of conversation. If possible, screen all your calls to avoid phone interactions with them and request all communication be in writing for your records.)
The PPM outlines the procedures for the boards to follow if they decide (a) to further investigate by asking you to fill out the forms and you do not comply with their requests, or (b) if after an investigation the school board representatives believe they have been unable to determine if satisfactory instruction is taking place in the home.
Any actions they take must be in accordance with subsection 24(2) and/or section 30 of the Education Act.
Am I legally required to notify the school board of my intent to homeschool, if my child has never attended school?
There is no legal requirement to inform the school board of your intentions to home educate if your child has never been enrolled in the Ontario publicly funded school system. Children between the ages of 6 (on the first day of school in September) and 18 (as per the 'Learning to 18' changes introduced by Bill 52, 2006) are required by law to attend school unless excused under Section 21 of the Education Act.
Is there any advantage to notifying the school board of my intent to homeschool, if my child has never attended school?
The letter of acknowledgement that school boards are to send to you when they receive your written notification of your intent to homeschool can be used:
- to access accredited high school courses through the Independent Learning Centre (ILC)
- as proof of homeschooling for educator discounts at numerous stores
- as proof of homeschooling for legal purposes (ie. in the instance of a custody dispute in Family Court, etc.)
- to make it easier to access certain other governmental services:
a) school health support services (SHSS) for children requiring school-based therapies (ie OT, speech, etc.)
b) proof of care of children for CRA tax-audits
c) social service income supports
- to apply for GED testing (through ILC) if you are under age 19
Is there any disadvantage to notifying the school board of my intent to homeschool, if my child has never attended school?
The PPM 131 states that "refusal of a parent to notify the board in writing of the intent to provide home schooling" is grounds to conduct an investigation into the education I am providing for my child. However, PPM 131 is not a law, and the Education Act does not explicitly say that you must notify the school board of your intent to homeschool.
Many families have chosen to not notify the school board of their intent to homeschool, and have homeschooled without notice or contact with their school board for the entirety of their child's education.
Many families choose not to notify the school board of their intent to homeschool for privacy concerns and an unwillingness to volunteer any information not legally required to a governmental agency.
What is an example of a "credible report of concern by a third party" that might lead to a school board investigation?
A credible report might be educational neglect charged by child protection agencies, in the course of their investigation of overall child neglect or abuse.
However, the OFTP would hope that school boards would proceed with caution on all reports of concern, given that reports have been made by disgruntled family members, separated parents, and well-meaning neighbours, out of spite or ignorance of the facts. Home education is still a newer concept, and many people do not understand all the nuances, or may have negative prejudicial views towards homeschooling.
What is involved in a school board investigation?
School board investigation guidelines can be found in Appendix D of PPM 131. You can view the list of questions that school board investigators would most likely ask should they investigate.
Homeschooling families do not have to legally comply with school board investigations. Homeschooling families MUST comply with investigations done by the provincial school attendance counsellor.
PPM 131 does remind school boards that the learning taking place in the home may look very different than what it does in school, and that the difference in methods or materials does not mean satisfactory education is not taking place.