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HomeHomeschoolHomeschooling in Ontario: How to Get Started

Homeschooling in Ontario: How to Get Started


Welcome to the world of homeschooling in Ontario, where families have the opportunity to tailor education to the unique needs and interests of their children combined with the freedom they desire. This guide aims to answer the most common questions about homeschooling in Ontario.

How to Homeschool in Ontario

What is Homeschooling?

Homeschooling is an educational method where parents take the responsibility for their child’s education outside of the traditional school system. There is some debate on whether using an online school or program is considered official homeschooling, but I personally believe that any family who is using a different education plan where they take the responsibility instead of sending their child to a brick and mortar facility should be able to classify themselves as homeschoolers.

Can you start homeschooling in the middle of the school year in Ontario?

You can choose to homeschool your child at any point throughout the year – whether that is before the school year begins, on day 2, in the middle of the year, or before the year ends. No matter when it is, if you are deciding to homeschool, you can start right away.

How to Register to Homeschool in Ontario

In Ontario, homeschooling is completely legal for anyone who decides they would like to. The Education Act requires children to attend school from the ages of 6 through 18, however that doesn’t require them to receive that education in a traditional school. You are allowed to provide “adequate education at home” using whatever resources work for you.

The document most often cited for homeschoolers in Ontario is the PPM131 (Policy/Program Memorandum 131) which helps schoolboards in their understanding of the policies surrounding homeschooling. Please note that this paperwork is NOT LAW, but simply a policy.

You are not legally required to do anything specific to homeschool your child, especially if your child has never been in the school system and you are not pulling them out. You can make the choice and homeschool right away.

However, it is recommended to complete a letter of intent and send it to your local school board. (Here is a list of school boards.)

You do not need to send a copy of the letter to your child’s principal, but it is generally considered a common courtesy. 

What is a Letter of Intent? How do I Fill one out? And Do I need to?

A letter (or notice) of intent is simply paperwork that informs your local schoolboard of your decision to homeschool. From PPM131, “Parents who decide to provide home schooling for their child(ren) should notify the school board of their intent in writing. Parents should provide the name, gender, and date of birth of each child who is receiving home schooling, and the telephone number and address of the home. The letter should be signed by the parent(s).

The policy has a simple form you can fill out, or you can use the templates and examples provided by the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents (OFTP). There is no specifically required version to follow.

Please note, this is not a request for permission to homeschool your child. It is simply a letter provided to let the school board know that you are now homeschooling.

You are not required to fill out any information other than those listed above. You do not need to fill out a learning plan, provide details of curriculum or materials you will use, or anything else, even if the school board asks or there are additional pages in the forms you are using. Those questions and details are there for situations that a school board would need to investigate.

The notice of intent is requested to be filled out every year.

Homeschoolers in Ontario can decide if they want to submit this letter or not as it’s not law, but a recommended policy. There are reasons to, if you decide to, such as:

  • for legal purposes or for the comfort of knowing their decision has been covered
  • to use the letter the school board sends back as proof for potential discounts or access to programs or services
  • for government services such as social assistance or for the CRA.
This is the sample letter of intent to homeschool in Ontario

Do I need to give reports?

Ontario is a no report province, which means that you don’t need to hand in any proof of learning completed or fill out any reports. You are not obligated to keep any records of what you have learned.

That being said, I would personally recommend that keep something as evidence on the incredibly rare scenario that you are investigated. Also, when you are heading into the high school years, it can be helpful to have some kind of record of what your child learned in their late elementary / middle school years if you decide to use a program like the ILC or an online school. These records can be as simple as a few examples of completed work, your planner for the year showing what you completed, or a detailed description of the courses and activities completed each year. I’ve heard of people who create folders on their computer to keep files and photos in. It’s completely up to you.

Does my child need to do any testing?

When you homeschool in Ontario, your child is not required to complete any testing. This means your child doesn’t have to complete a test to go to the next level nor do they need to take part in the standardized testing (EQAO) that schools hold for students in grades 3, 6, 9 or the literacy test in grade 10.

You are allowed to optionally participate in the tests if you would like. Contact your local school board for details on how to do this.

Is there a tax credit or funding offered for homeschooling in Ontario?

There is no tax credit or funding offered to homeschoolers in Ontario. In many cases, funding comes with some kind of government involvement. In Ontario, most homeschoolers are thankful for the unconditional nature of our education method that allows us to teach how, when, and what we want.

Where do I get the curriculum to homeschool in Ontario?

Homeschoolers in Ontario are not required to follow any specific curriculum or learning outcomes.

The Ministry of Education has the general Ontario curriculum available for free on their website for both elementary and secondary. These are divided up by subject, not by grade. (Get the Ontario Government Curriculum listed in easy to use, grade-by-grade checklists.)

You can closely or loosely follow these learning outcomes, if you want to. Some parents do this so their children will stay at the same level as their peers in the case they have to be re-integrated into the public system, or because they feel more confident in their homeschooling choices.

Keep in mind that even if you follow the above learning guidelines, there are no specific books, resources, or materials you are required to use. In fact, you likely can’t even access materials used in a traditional school setting as a homeschooler anyway. 

Many homeschoolers choose other methods of homeschooling that have nothing to do with the Ministry of Education’s planned curriculum. These are all perfectly legal for parents to do. 

You can pick how and what you want to learn and with which resources (if any). This freedom is one of the big perks of homeschooling in Ontario. You can make the choice for yourself. I highly recommend that you work your way through my “How to Plan Your Homeschool Year” post to decide what you will learn this year and what curriculum options to choose from.

If we homeschool, can my child ever go back to school if we decide to? 

Typically, you can change between homeschooling and using the school system at any time. This might vary based on availability in your local school or situations such as closures due to strikes or like we saw during the pandemic. In the elementary years, students are usually admitted to the grade they would be in according to their age, not necessarily their skill level.

High school is somewhat different, as some courses require prerequisite learning. For high school, there may be options to test for skill and knowledge or to submit details about what you have already covered so that your child can gain credit for completed work. This will depend on the school and program. 

Do homeschoolers get a diploma in Ontario?

The only way for a homeschooler to get a government-issued diploma in Ontario (OSSD) is to complete credits and requirements through an accredited program. Some people don’t consider this to be real homeschooling as your child essentially enrolls in an online school. A student who continues to homeschool using independent curriculum will not receive an OSSD. They can receive a parent-made diploma, if desired, to validate their high school work. 

If you are homeschooling through high school, check out this blog post about how to homeschool high school in Ontario – which walks you through the steps and things to consider.

Resources for Homeschoolers in Ontario

The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents (OFTP) is the best resource for parents new to homeschooling. It gives a breakdown of the laws and provides parents with blank letters of intent that they can fill out and mail to provided school board addresses. The site also provides a list of homeschooling groups by area. You can use the information on their site for free and/or become a member of the OFTP for a small fee.

HSLDA Canada is a Christian “non-profit organization devoted to protecting, empowering, and advancing home education in Canada.” They “provide legal services and professional homeschool support”  to their members. This is an optional service that some people find very helpful. 

Learning House is a homeschooling bookstore based out of Bradford Ontario. They offer thousands of options for curriculum and resources – including the opportunity to talk to experienced homeschoolers for help on choosing what might work best for your family.

In Conclusion: 

Compared to some other provinces, homeschooling in Ontario is very easy. The freedom here allows families to enjoy their experience without red tape. Hopefully this post answered most of your questions about homeschooling in this province.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HOW TO HOMESCHOOL IN CANADA?

This post was originally written by Sandra Hart – mother of 4, in 2012 and updated in 2020. It has been completely rewritten in 2023 with updated links and resources to provide the most accurate information currently available.

Lisa Marie Fletcher
Latest posts by Lisa Marie Fletcher (see all)



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