Homeschooling as freedom of choice in education (Photo: Kyla Matton)
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Homeschooling is an educational option that may not be for everyone, but it does answer to a number of issues that are currently problematic in both the public and private schools of Quebec.
Homeschoolers have the choice to educate their children in English or French - or any other language for that matter. Quebec's language laws apply to institutions, and not to education in a home-based educational environment.
Similarly, while the Education Act directs parents to provide an education that is equivalent to what is offered in public schools, there is no requirement to teach specific subjects such as religion - nor to approach any given subject from a prescribed angle. The newly published homeschooling policy cautions school boards to "respect the charter rights and freedoms guaranteed to all, particularly the right to freedom of conscience and religion."
While a homeschooled student who wants to earn credit for compulsory grade 10 or 11 courses must sit the provincial exams, for other courses the policy tells boards to, "use a variety of methods (interviews, portfolios, tests, etc.) that are flexible and adapted to home schooling, and always strive to ensure, as far as possible, that the child does not feel threatened by the exercise."
Homeschoolers and their parents may opt to follow different paths towards preparation for career or higher education, that do not involve taking standardized or provincial exams. They are also much more likely to be adept in the art of negotiating over educational requirements and assessments, and to have a backup plan that can be put into action should there be problems like a political agenda that affects grading of exams.
As the PQ and the federal Bloc Québecois party warn of an upcoming renewal of the battle over language and sovereignty, and as public education continues to find itself at the center of controversy and uncertainty in Quebec, homeschooling will become increasingly an alternative for families whose needs are not met by public or private schools. The recently released homeschooling policy may have been met with a degree of trepidation, but the homeschool option still goes a long way to preserving the freedom of parents to choose how their children are educated.
"Home schooling: Policy framework." MELS