Choices for Education

Education Choices - Parent-directed / School-directed / At Home / At School

Advantages of Homeschooling

  • Helps each child achieve his or her full educational potential
  • Flexibility to go at the child’s pace to achieve mastery of concepts
  • Time to explore new interests and develop unique talents
  • Positive socialization by mature adult example while limiting children’s exposure to destructive influences
  • Building strong family relationships through learning together
  • High school students can get an early start on college education or career preparation

Homeschooling is effective.

Since the 1980s when the modern homeschool movement began, research studies (Ray, 2010 )(Van Pelt, 2003 ) have consistently shown that homeschooled students perform well academically (on average, 20 percentile points higher). More Research

Homeschool is not school-at-home.

Even though both take place in the home, School-at-Home is not legally considered a Home-Based Education program: “School-based instruction in the home, initiated by and under the direction of a public or independent school – for health, intensive needs or locational reasons – does not represent a home-based education program.” (Saskatchewan Home-based Education Policy and Procedures Manual)
Parents who choose to provide their children with a Home-Based Education retain all responsibility to personally and directly plan, instruct, monitor and assess outcomes, as well as comply with provincial regulations for notification and reporting. Parents do not give school divisions control over their child’s education and can reasonably expect school divisions to respect their decisions. (See summary of notification and report requirements later in this factsheet)
School-at-Home programs may be a good fit for parents who do not wish to have their children at school but also do not wish to personally direct their children’s education. School-at-Home programs are regulated as either public, separate or independent schools and instruction is under the direction of the school. While endorsing and supporting education choice for all parents, SHBE does not assist with, advocate for, or otherwise endorse individual school-at-home programs.

Saskatchewan Home-Based Educators

Saskatchewan Home-Based Educators, Inc (SHBE) is a voluntary membership organization that represents the homeschool community of Saskatchewan. The homeschool community is a diverse set of families united in supporting each other with encouragement, resources, education, and support groups. Regardless of a family’s philosophical or religious convictions regarding home-based education, SHBE supports each family’s right to homeschool – as well as their children’s right to receive a homeschool education directed by their parents. Along with the province of Saskatchewan, we proclaim, “from many peoples, strength”.

SHBE facilitates community by organizing an annual convention at which families join to learn about the latest pedagogical methods and neurological discoveries, to encourage each other and to share ideas, as well as to buy or sell used resources and to purchase new books, resources and curriculum. The 2019 SHBE Convention was the 28th annual convention that has been paid for, organized and staffed by homeschoolers and for homeschoolers. One of the largest events in either Regina or Saskatoon, the convention draws homeschoolers from every corner of the province and has an annual attendance of approximately 600 people, which equates to roughly half of all home-based education families in Saskatchewan.

SHBE has also held four special needs conferences in recent years, in response to feedback from our members who reported they desired additional supports and community, but were fearful of asking for assistance from their school division (due to the existing wording in the Home-based Education Policy and Procedures Manual).

Our History

SHBE formed in 1983 and existed for many years primarily as a newsletter circulated among families. With continued growth, a need for a province-wide affiliation that would span methods and philosophical approaches was identified. In 1987, SHBE became the voice of home-based educators in the province. SHBE was instrumental in working with the department of education as it drafted the legislation recognizing home based education and providing for an exemption from compulsory school attendance requirements. SHBE formed a board of directors in 1990 and incorporated in 1992 as Saskatchewan Home Based Educators, Inc.

When regulations were being drafted, SHBE had insisted that parents have recourse to register with the department of education. This was necessary, not to encourage discord with school divisions, but rather to encourage cooperation by ensuring parents did not feel cornered and powerless. SHBE recommended and advocated for a home-based education review panel that would arbitrate disagreements over policy or procedure, while leaving matters of substance to the parents and the local school boards.

Today

There are no longer widespread problems with un-registered homeschoolers, in large part due to SHBE influence. However, SHBE notes that some home-based educators are feeling shut out and backed into a corner: there is no longer a Home Based Education Review Panel, no longer an option to register directly with the ministry of education, and no objective dispute resolution process (the ministry of education has removed the home based education dispute resolution mechanism and deferred to the local school division’s dispute resolution processes). Today, many SHBE members wonder what has become of protecting the province’s compelling interest by “the least intrusive means”?

Positive Changes Proposed

  • SHBE submitted proposed changes to the Intensive Needs section, to use less aggressive wording and thereby offer no dis-incentives for home based educators to inform regarding intensive needs. The SHBE proposal would make the Intensive Needs wording more compatible with other sections of the policy manual.
  • SHBE is currently advocating for a more balanced and representative dispute resolution mechanism, in which home based educators are fairly represented and have adequate recourse to settle disputes with school divisions.
  • SHBE has requested changes to the residency requirements for registration of home based education programs.

Freedom to Excel

SHBE ultimately advocates that fewer regulatory burdens be placed upon homeschool families. Based on research indicating that regulation does not lead to better academic outcomes, SHBE believes this is a reasonable goal that will not jeopardize the province’s compelling interest in the education of children and youth. SHBE does not simply advocate for “Freedom from regulation”, but “Freedom to excel”: easing the regulatory burdens from home based educators will allow them to expend their time and effort on delivering excellent educational opportunities for their children, which is ultimately also in the interest of the province of Saskatchewan.

Home-based Education in Saskatchewan

In an effort to inform and educate teachers, administrators, legislators and the public, SHBE has gathered relevant reports into the following information package. The intent of this publication is to provide positive information about home based education in order to facilitate fact-based discussion rather than continue to perpetuate uninformed stereotypes or negative “urban legends” about homeschooling.

Demographics in Saskatchewan


There were 2,608 registered home-based learners in 2018/19 (figure 1). This represents 1.34% of all students (figure 2).

Growth of Home Based Education in Saskatchewan
Figure 1: Home Based Education in Saskatchewan, 2014-2018


Enrollments by school, 2017/18
Figure 2: Percentage of Student enrollments for 2017/18

Who chooses Home Education? Why?

Almost all families have multiple reasons for choosing to homeschool (figure 3), with education being most common primary reason (figure 4).

Reasons for Choosing Home Education
Figure 3: Reasons for Choosing Home Education
Primary Reasons for Choosing Home Education
Figure 4: Primary Reasons for Choosing Home Education

Homeschooled Adults

Highest Level of Education Attained

Adults who were homeschooled tend to attain higher levels of education than the general population of Canadians.

Highest Level of Education Attained
Figure 5: Highest Level of Education Attained

Community Participation

More than two-thirds of adults who were homeschooled report participating in community activities at least once per week, with an additional quarter of the remaining homeschooled adults reporting participation a few times per month (Van Pelt, 2009). The activities in which they participated were varied.

Participation in Group Activities
Figure 6: Participation in Group Activities

Voter Participation

Adults who had been home educated showed significantly higher voter participation in all levels of democratic civil government.

Participation in Elections
Figure 7: Participation in Elections

Satisfaction with Life

Adults who were homeschooled are satisfied with life, with between half and three quarters either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the five questions that comprise the Satisfaction with Life Scale (Pavot & Diener, 1993). “This sample reports a higher average life satisfaction score than most other normed sub-groups in Western society” (p.89)

Satisfaction with Life
Figure 8: Satisfaction with Life

Homeschool Academic Results

Major nationwide studies in the USA repeatedly indicate that home-educated students typically score at the 65th to 80th percentile on nationally normed standardized achievement tests.

Such results are consistent regardless of family income, the ethnicity of parents, the level of education achieved by the parents, or other socio-economic factors that are traditionally considered to hinder academic achievement in institutional schools.

Academic Achievement, Grade K-12
Figure 9: Academic Achievement, Grade K-12

Effect of Parent Education Level on Academic Achievement

Homeschooling results are statistically unaffected by the education level of parents.

Mother’s Education Level and Student Achievement Basic Battery Test Score, Grades K-12
Figure 10: Mother’s Education Level and Student Achievement Basic Battery Test Score, Grades K-12

Effect of Family Income on Academic Achievement

Homeschool Academic achievement is not impacted by family income.

Family Income and Student Achievement, Grades K-12
Figure 11: Family Income and Student Achievement, Grades K-12

Effect of Teacher Certification on Academic Achievement

There is no significant difference between academic achievement when either parent has ever had teacher certification.

Teacher Certification and Student Achievement, Grades K-12
Figure 12: Teacher Certification and Student Achievement, Grades K-12

Effect of Government Regulation on Homeschool Academic Achievement

Government regulation has no impact on academic achievement.

Ray, Brian D., & Eagleson, Bruce K. (2008), State regulation of homeschooling and homeschoolers’ SAT scores

The studies below assessed American State Legislation and Regulation to assign each state into one of three categories: Low Regulation; Medium Regulation; or High Regulation.

Low Regulation: No requirement for parents to initiate any contact.

Medium Regulation: Parents required to send notification, assessment results and/or professional evaluation of student progress.

High Regulation: Parents required to send notification or achievement test scores and/or professional evaluation, plus other requirements (e.g. curriculum approval, teacher qualification, home qualification).arents required to send notification, assessment results and/or professional evaluation of student progress.

Regulation and Student Achievement, Grades K-12
Figure 13: Regulation and Student Achievement, Grades K-12
Regulation and Student Achievement, College SAT Scores
Figure 14: Regulation and Student Achievement, College SAT Scores

Myth Busting: Home Based Education Stereotypes

Despite growing awareness of home based education as a valid option, many people continue to perpetuate stereotypes and misperceptions about home based education. The following is intended as a positive response to some common mistakes. There is no intent to put down other educational options. SHBE is enthusiastically supportive of families who choose home based education and has observed the possible benefits bear fruit many times over.

Myth: Homeschooling is too time consuming

Fact: Homeschooling takes exactly the time required

There are no bells to signal how long until “class” is over. While homeschool families rarely spend seven hours per day with book-work or curricular studies, they happily report they are learning all the time. Lifelong learning is a fact of life and “homeschooling” prepares individuals by passing on a love of learning and an ability to learn “what they need, when they need it”. Homeschool parents take the time and make the effort to plan an education for their children that they consider to be not simply sufficient, satisfactory or adequate, but excellent.

Myth: Homeschooling is too expensive

Fact: An excellent education does not need to be expensive

According to a report by the Fraser Institute, Saskatchewan spent $15,314 per student in the public system in 2015-16 (MacLeod, Emes, 2019[1] ). In addition, according to an article in the Financial Post[2], private tutoring represents a $1 billion industry in Canada. Many parents engage tutoring services to provide supplemental instruction for their children who are otherwise enrolled in public and private schools.

Homeschool families rarely spend as much per student, even if a foregone second income is included. While many families spend $1,000 and more per child, an excellent education can also be provided for very little cost, using libraries, community centres, and co-ops. Of course, these expenses are in addition to the taxes paid to support government education. Parents who choose to homeschool consider the monetary cost to be worth the expense to obtain the social, emotional and academic benefits associated with home based education.

Myth: “I could never be around my children all day!”

Fact: Home-based education facilitates healthy parent-child relationships

When children are freed from peer orientation, many of the behaviours that parents dread can be addressed with patience and consistency. Homeschool families tend to be involved in their community and engaged in various activities. Far from being “cooped up”, many families find it necessary to carve out time to stay home. Homeschool families can stop what they’re doing and take a break: they can stay in, play board games or watch a movie; they can go to the park or the library or the gym for a break from routine.

Myth: Homeschooled kids have problems with socialization

Fact: Homeschooled are properly socialized and able to interact with people of all ages

Homeschooled kids are able to shake hands, look you in the eye and hold a conversation. Parents are increasingly choosing home based education because they want to provide their children with guided, appropriate social experiences. According to research by Dr. Gordon Neufeld[3], children are more content, grow into mature adults and integrate into the broader society more successfully when parents are strong, loving role models who provide positive social interaction, compared with children whose primary orientation is with children who form their peer group.

Studies of adults who were homeschooled have demonstrated that they are more satisfied with life, more likely to be involved civically, volunteer more frequently and are more consistently engaged in a faith community (Ray, B. 2015[4])(Van Pelt, D. & Allison, P., & Allison, D. 2009[5]).

Myth: Parents are not qualified to teach

Fact: Parents are perfectly suited to direct the education of their own children

Parents do not need to be experts in everything. Homeschooling does not mean that parents never use apprenticeship, outside tutors or mentorship to educate their children. Field trips, gymnastics, swimming lessons, homeschool co-ops, community classes, apprenticeships, mentorships, and other expert instruction are often available from within the homeschool community itself, or available through private companies, science centres, libraries, industry partnerships and myriad other arrangements.

Myth: Homeschoolers can’t go to university/college/post-secondary

Fact: Homeschoolers are eligible for admission to many post-secondary institutes

Homeschoolers generally have few issues with admissions. Despite mis-information to the contrary, high school credits are not required for admission into post-secondary programs. Some universities offer open admission, or accept parent-generated transcripts, applicable individual university courses, advanced placement enrollment, or SAT/ACT scores in lieu of accredited ministry of education transcripts.

Myth: Homeschoolers can’t succeed in university/college/post-secondary

Fact: Homeschoolers achieve higher levels of education than the general public.

Many homeschoolers participate actively in planning their home based education programs, in choosing and locating curricula and resources, in scheduling their own days, and in seeking learning opportunities. Far from limiting their children’s option for post-secondary, parents who choose to home educate seem to be equipping their children for post-secondary success. Adults who were homeschooled have a higher average level of education than the general population, and tend to have finished the course of study they began.

Myth: Homeschoolers can’t graduate from high school

Fact: Homeschoolers receive a complete high school education

Homeschoolers can complete their high school education without obtaining Ministry of Education high school credits. They can be employed, enter post-secondary, raise a family and contribute to society. Parent-generated transcripts, a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or Post-Secondary Completion are all alternatives to a standard 24-credit high-school diploma from the Ministry of Education. Homeschool completion is valid, though not accredited by the Ministry of Education.

Myth: Homeschooling will lead to rejection of common Canadian values

Fact: Diversity of thought and personal liberty are historic common values in Canada

Families choose to homeschool for a variety of philosophical and religious reasons. Settlement in Canada was established on principles of personal liberty, when the British parliament granted French Canadian civil participation and self-government. While compulsory attendance laws were quickly used to curtail minority rights, religious and ethnic minority groups, including aboriginal peoples, have struggled to avoid assimilation. Saskatchewan is home to a wide diversity of people, with varied beliefs, and varied histories, which requires a commitment to uphold personal liberty for all. As a society that values diversity (“from many peoples, strength”), Saskatchewan should encourage educational choice so families may choose options that align with their values, beliefs and cultural or ethnic heritage.

Myth: Homeschooling will lead to less tolerant citizens

Fact: Homeschoolers tend to extend civil liberties, even those with whom they disagree

While homeschooling does not necessarily lead to critical thought, the practice certainly coincides frequently. If our society is to embrace true toleration, we must insist upon civil liberty for all, regardless of whether we agree with the opinions of others. A particularly interesting study found that “Students with greater exposure to homeschooling tend to be more politically tolerant—a finding contrary to the claims of many political theorists”. In this study “politically tolerant” was defined as “the willingness to extend civil liberties to people who hold views with which one disagrees,” (Cheng, A. 2018[6]). Such traits are to be desired in this divisive era.  

In the history of the world, there has rarely been a society as open and free as ours. We must not be taken captive to pleasant-sounding ideologies that promise peace or security, but cost us our freedom. It is not tolerant to shut down discussion by smashing property, threatening violence against, or ostracizing those with whom one disagrees.

Regulatory Requirements

In Saskatchewan, school attendance is compulsory for children over 6 and under 16 years of age, but The Education Act provides an exemption for home based education. The home-based education laws in Saskatchewan seeks to balance the rights of parents and children with the compelling interest of the province.

Children: Every child has a right to an education. Every child has a right to a home-based education. SHBE believes children’s best interests are best determined by those who love them the most: their parents.

Parents: Parents have a right to determine the type of education that is provided to their children. If electing to provide a home-based education, parents are responsible for all aspects of the home-based education program, the philosophical approach, planning and method of instruction, selection and acquisition of materials and resources, and assessment of learning outcomes.

Province: Governments have interests, but do not have rights. A “compelling interest” is a legal term. It means a government has a demonstrably justified reason to limit the personal freedom of parents and children in order to achieve goals consistent with a free and just society. In terms of home-based education, governments must fulfil their compelling interest by the “least intrusive means”.

Families wishing to personally direct the education of their children through home-based education must file paperwork with the school division in which they reside (Find your school division: list or map), or with Conseil des écoles fransaskoises (CEF).

Notification and Reporting

SHBE has purposed to make it easier for home-based educators and school divisions by working with the Homeschool Legal Defense Association of Canada (HSLDA) to develop templates that comply with provincial requirements.

Using the SHBE templates ensures that enough information is provided, while seeking to prevent increasing amounts and detail of information being offered and subsequently expected. By providing a consistent amount of information and level of detail, all families can continue to easily comply with regulatory requirements, regardless of educational style and philosophical approach employed. Using the SHBE templates also keeps the roles and responsibilities clear between parents and school divisions.

The Notification of a Home-based Education Program accompanied by Written Education Plan is to be filed by August 15. The Annual Progress Report must be filed toward the end of the educational year, by June 15. Parents may commence a home based education program 30 days after filing the provincial paperwork, even if previously registered to attend institutional school for that year.

Notification of a Home-based Education Program.

The Notification of a Home-based Education Program is provincially-defined form that lists the basic information about the student and parents. The last school attended, year and grade level are only applicable for children who have previously attended institutional school and may be left blank.

Written Education Plan

The Written Education Plan consists of:

the reason or philosophical approach; three broad annual goals for each of Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics; the means of assessing and recording progress; and the services that the home-based educator intends to access from the school division.

Philosophical Approach

Broad Annual Goals

Broad Annual Goals are “statements of learning or outcomes in each area of study that a home-based educator intends a home-based learner to achieve during the school year in a home-based education program.”

Means of Assessing and Recording Progress

The means of assessment and recording may be: Portfolio of work; Standardized achievement test results administered by the school division, at school division expense; or Standardized achievement test results administered by the home-based educator or other qualified person, at the expense of the home-based educator.

The most common and flexible choice is Portfolio of Work.

Services Requested

School divisions are required to provide driver training and learning assessments if requested by the home-based educator. Other services may be provided, including access to classes at a school, access to resource centres, distance learning courses, school textbooks, and participation in extra-curricular activities such as sports, music, or science fairs. School divisions are not required to pass along funding provided by the province, though many school divisions provide grants or partially reimburse expenses.

Portfolio of Work

Regardless of the option chosen as the means of assessment, a portfolio of work must be compiled for each home-based learner and maintained for two years following the completion of the program. The portfolio of work consists of a periodic logs and summative records and/or samples of work.

Periodic Log

The periodic log is “a record of the educational activities completed by the home-based learner in relation to the written education plan.” It is acceptable to record one highlight per month, such as books read, notable learning experiences, a field trip attended, community events, family milestones, sporting events, special projects, cultural activities, or other records related to learning (this is not an exhaustive list).

One of the following:

Detailed Summative Record;
Sufficient Samples of Work; or
Summative Record and Samples of Work

For each goal, you may choose to assess progress using a detailed summative record, sufficient samples of work, or both a summative record and sample of work. A summative record is a statement of academic progress at the end of a unit, project, course, program or school year. A sample of work may be a written work, worksheet, project, or creative material. The requirement is that there be a summative record or sample of work for each broad annual goal listed on the written education plan filed at the beginning of the year.

For a summative record, it is acceptable to list units studied, progress in a specific curriculum, books read, field trips taken, or other criteria that indicates progress toward the broad annual goal. If you prefer, it is reasonable to use outcomes-based reporting, similar to the outcome-based assessments used by school divisions to report progress to parents. Many schools publish parent guides to explain the terms used on report cards, such as “having difficulty…”, “progressing as expected…”, “meeting objectives…”, “achieved mastery…”, or “proficiency not demonstrated…”. Remember that these examples are a couple of many reasonable options – offered with the intent of being helpful, not to “box you in”.

If you choose to provide samples of work, they should be clearly labelled to indicate the broad annual goals to which each sample is relevant. For example, if a broad annual goal was to learn rounding of decimal numbers, a relevant sample of work may be a worksheet or project that includes rounding of numbers.

If you both a summative record and sample of work best indicates the progress, the samples of work should be labelled and referenced to indicate the broad annual goal to which they are relevant. A reasonable summative record may be something like, “Demonstrated a knowledge of the solar system by constructing the model shown in the photo labeled ‘Science #1’ or ‘Solar System’”.

Annual Progress Report

The Annual Progress Report must be filed toward the end of the educational program or by June 15. It will consist of either the portfolio of work; or standardized achievement test interpreted results.

The portfolio of work must be compiled, but need not be submitted unless selected as the method of assessment.

No Additional Documents Required

Home Based Educators are not required to provide birth certificates, registration forms or further documentation. While school divisions may not compel home based educators to provide additional documentation (as a condition of registration) such requests may be made in good faith, for financial compliance prior to reimbursements or grants, or for purely administrative reasons. The home-based educator may choose to graciously supply or kindly decline to supply such information.

Help and Support

SHBE has developed Templates and Resources to assist home based educators to file paperwork with the province, including more in-depth explanation of the notification and reporting requirements. Please email help@shbe.info or visit www.shbe.ca to obtain these additional resources.

Saskatchewan Home Based Educators, Inc (SHBE) is the official voice of home-based educators in Saskatchewan. Working with relevant organizations, SHBE assists in creating a positive social and political environment for home-based education in Saskatchewan. SHBE holds an annual convention, publishes the SHBE Journal and develops various resources. SHBE Membership costs just $35 per family per year. Facebook/Instagram

References

Marr, G. (2015). Get ready to fork over $1 billion Canada, school is back and so is tutoring. [online] Financial Post. Available at: https://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/young-money/get-ready-to-fork-over-1-billion-canada-school-is-back-and-so-is-tutoring [Accessed 28 Feb. 2019].

Neufeld, G., & Maté, G. (2004). Hold on to your kids: Why parents matter. Toronto: A.A. Knopf Canada

Ray, B. (2015), Gen2 Survey: A Spiritual and Educational Survey on Christian Millennials; National Home Education Research Institute

Van Pelt, D. & Allison, P. & Allison, D. (2009), Fifteen Years Later: Home-Educated Canadian Adults; Canadian Centre for Home Education.

Cheng, A. (2014), Does Homeschooling or Private Schooling Promote Political Intolerance? Evidence From a Christian University, Journal of School Choice, International Research and Reform, Volume 8, 2014 – Issue 1

Ray, B. (2010), Academic Achievement and Demographic Traits of Homeschool Students: A Nationwide Study, Academic Leadership Online Journal, volume 8, Issue 1, Winter 2010

Van Pelt, D. (2003), Home education in Canada: A report on the pan-Canadian study on home education 2003, Canadian Centre for Home Education

The Province of Saskatchewan, The Education Act, 1995, (Publications Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, Saskatchewan Home-based Education: Policy and Procedures Manual, (Publications Saskatchewan)

Good Spirit School Division, Report Cards, archived June 11, 2019.

Regina Public Education, A Parent’s Guide to Classroom Assessment, Archived December 16, 2019, page 4

Prairie South School Division, Grading Practices, Accessed December 16, 2019, page 15

Regina Catholic School Division, Understanding Student Assessment and Reporting, Accessed June 11, 2019, page 4

South East Cornerstone Public School Division, Changing Student Report Cards, page 2

Prairie Spirit School Division, Martensville Highschool blog, accessed June 11, 2019

Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division, ReportCardFAQs, accessed June 11, 2019

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, Sample Report that Includes Learning Behaviours, access June 11, 2019