Homeschooling in Ontario is comparatively easy from the rest of the provinces in Canada, and around the world. Ontario has few regulations and requirements for homeschooling. We've broken down the process into 10 steps, with Steps 1-4 being the MOST important, and steps 5 thru 10 as optional, though recommended for best results.
Please contact us for direct support, if you have questions. You can view our answers to the most frequently asked questions here.
Step 1: Consider homeschooling.
Before you withdraw or decide to register your school-aged child, consider what homeschooling is. The OFTP defines homeschooling as "educational responsibility undertaken directly by parents and/or guardians, outside of formally-organized education institutions.". In other words, parents or guardians are the ones who provide for the education of their child(ren), without sending them to publicly-funded or private schools.
We recommend that before you start the process, take some time to consider what homeschooling is, and what the pros and cons are to your family. Check out our recommended reading list and our online resources for further research.
Step 2: Decide to homeschool.
When choosing to homeschool, it's best to make a firm commitment. Homeschooling is a lifestyle, not just an educational alternative. So make the decision to homeschool, and commit to at least 1 full year for best results.
It's normal and natural to feel uncertain about homeschooling, and tempted to want to "try it" for a season. But homeschooling really doesn't work well on a "trial" basis, as the uncertainty will undermine you and your children's efforts. Natural bumps in parenting will be blamed on homeschooling, and families are often tempted to give up too soon.
So commit to homeschooling for 1 year, and make a firm decision.
Step 3: Withdraw your child.
The compulsory age of education in Ontario is 6 years.
Under 6 years old:
If your child is under 6 years old, you can choose to NOT register your child for kindergarten, and keep them home. And once you decide to homeschool, you do not have to register your child for school at any age.
Over 6 years old:
If your child is over 6 years of age, AND you have NEVER registered them for school, you can homeschool without doing anything. Simply do not register them with your local school board, and homeschool happily.
If your child is over 6 years of age, AND you have already registered them for school, you need to formally withdraw your child from school. If they are attending a private school, follow the private school's withdrawal process.
If your child has been registered and/or is attending a publicly-funded school in Ontario, you can withdraw your child by sending in a formal notice of withdrawal to the school board, with a copy to the school. You do not have to mention homeschooling in your notice of withdrawal. You can withdraw your child, just the same as if you were moving out of the region or province.
Notice of Intent to Homeschool
If you choose to, you can use the "Notice of Intent to Homeschool" form to withdraw your child from public school. Most public school boards offer variations of this form, and many of them ask for extra information that isn't required. However, the OFTP has created a form for your use, with the minimal amount of information required. You can download it here. You send this form to your local school board, and copy it to the school as a courtesy.
**Note** You do not have to provide a plan of education or list of materials used. You do not have to meet with a guidance counsellor, principal, attendance counsellor or social worker. And you do not have to answer questions about why you choose to homeschool.
If you use the "Notice of Intent to Homeschool" form, you should receive a Letter of Acknowledgement from your school board.
Step 4: DESCHOOL.
This is the process of transitioning your family from formally-organized school to homeschooling. Because it is a significant change, the OFTP recommends allowing for several weeks of transition time before embarking on any homeschool plan. The time needed to deschool depends on several factors, including how long your child was in school, if they experienced any negative interactions or trauma (including bullying), and how much you as a parent know and understand about homeschooling. More time spend deschooling is better, in the long run, and will be more conducive to successful homeschooling.
Please read our resources on deschooling for more support here.
Step 5: Learn more about homeschooling.
This step can be done while you are doing Step 4 and deschooling. In this step, you'll learn more about how homeschooling works, and the various methods and resources you can use to homeschool your children. Consider questions like: how does my child like to explore topics of interest? How do they learn best? What kind of flexibility do we need as a family (ie. for travel, unconventional work schedules, family passions, etc)? Also consider what kinds of goals you want for your child's education and what the purpose is.
For more on homeschooling goals, methods, and resources, please click here.
Step 6: Connect with your homeschooling community.
This step can also be done while you are in Step 4 and deschooling. Please go to our Homeschooling Support Group page and find your local group(s). And please contact us if you need help finding local support.
Step 7: Obtain homeschooling materials.
Once you have learned more about homeschooling, and made decisions about what kind of homeschool you want and need, you can start obtaining homeschool materials. Please view our Homeschool Curriculum & Resources page for places and websites where you can purchase. Remember: not all homeschool resources are written or in book form. They can be in many forms, including videos, toys, and experiences.
Step 8: Create a homeschool plan.
Use the information you have learned about homeschooling and your resources to put together a plan for your homeschool. This does not have to be elaborate or detailed. But having a general idea of what you will do to educate your child can help relieve any stress or uncertainty you may feel. Please contact us if you need support in creating a plan.
Step 9: Create a homeschool record.
Your homeschool plan can help you figure out what and how to record the results of your homeschooling. Again, this can be as simple or elaborate as you like. Whether you choose to create formal transcripts or scrapbook the fun learning experiences you share with your child, you'll want to have some way to track how you homeschool -- if only for the family memories! Grades and testing are not required.
Step 10: Get ready, get set, GO!
Set up your resources and spaces, prepare your plans and records, and ... go! You're now ready to start homeschooling, whatever that looks like for you.
Join the OFTP and share your homeschooling experiences with us! We'd love to celebrate with you.