Montreal

Quebec's new, stricter regulations 'defeat the purpose' of home-schooling, parents say

Parents say the Quebec government's plans to tighten rules around home-schooling, making those children sit ministry exams, would force them to learn in the exact same way as their classroom-bound peers.

Government would have home-schooled children learn same subjects at same time as peers, sit ministry exams

Amélie Avoine, left, who home-schools both her children, sometimes sits with her daughter Alexa to help her with her work, but she said their education gives them the opportunity to go to museums, work from a coffee shop, travel — and study what they want, when they want. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Parents of home-schooled children say the Quebec government's plans to tighten rules around home-schooling would force their children to learn in the exact same way as their classroom-bound peers.

"Most families who home-school [do so] because either the school doesn't have the resources or the program isn't perfectly adapted to their child," said Noémi Berlus, who home-schools her eight-year-old and also serves as the director of the Quebec Association of Home Schooling.

She said the changes the government's proposing "defeat the purpose" of home-schooling.

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge tabled the proposed changes last week, saying they would ensure students are taught a full range of subjects, such as history and science, as outlined in the provincial curriculum.

Specifically, home-schooled children would be required to learn a subject in the same year as their peers attending school. Previously, as long as they learned the subject and passed testing, they could be taught it at any time.

They would also no longer have the option of alternative testing, instead being required to take ministry exams.

About 5,300 Quebec children were registered as being home-schooled last year.

Noémi Berlus home-schools her eight-year-old and serves as the director of the Quebec Association of Home-Schooling. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Freedom of teaching necessary, parents say

Amélie Avoine home-schools her 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter.

Both children are what's called "twice exceptional" — gifted, but struggling with learning disabilities.

"A lot of kids who are in the system, the curriculum is not working for them," she said.

There is no typical day for her kids, but teaching can involve taking them to the museum, working from a coffee shop, or even travelling to other cities.

"Right now, we follow the curriculum of our choice, but we are mandated to teach certain subjects," Avoine said.

"At the end of the year, we can either submit a portfolio of the child's progression throughout the year; we can have them evaluated by an independent teaching authority, or submit them to the ministry exams."

It could change by the next school year, when the government hopes to have the latest regulations in place.

"For many kids, it won't reflect their potential," Avoine said.

Berlus agrees.

"At home, the families have the leisure to adapt what they're learning to the child's interests, to the child abilities, so that by the time they're 16, they have an even better chance of having learned those things."

About the Author

Sarah Leavitt

Journalist

Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.

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