Start Homeschooling in British Columbia (Registered Homeschool vs Online Learning)?

We’re a homeschool family with four kids living in the Kootenays.

Our two oldest daughters are all grown up, our third daughter is about to graduate high school, and as of September, we’ll only have a teenage son at home.

And I’m here to tell you that you can homeschool too!

I’m here to help you learn how to start homeschooling in British Columbia. And in this article, I’ll also help you decide on registered homeschool versus online learning too (because you’ll need to decide).

If you’re a 1st Year Homeschool Mom and you’d like to learn what the 11 most important things I needed to learn to homeschool…

This is what you’ll find in this article on how to start homeschooling in British Columbia (& how to decide on registered homeschool versus online learning).

  • What you might want to know about the homeschool lifestyle.
  • What the most common concerns are that new homeschool parents have?
  • You are invited to join me in a consultation call to discuss your coaching options with a homeschool life coach.
  • I give you an overview of the legalities of home learning in British Columbia.
  • I explain the differences between registered homeschooling and online learning.
  • A quick flyover about how I thought homeschooling would be and what it was actually like.
  • And a special welcome to homeschooling from me!
So let’s get started…

how to start homeschooling in British Columbia & registered homeschool versus online learning
After living in Kamloops and traveling around the world, our homeschool family created a homestead life in the Kootenays.

When you first get off the beaten path, leaving the conventional schooled path, you might have uncertainties and doubts; you might research & read more than Wiki itself.

And of course, it is a rite of passage for all new homeschoolers to do that, as one should (we are taking responsibility for our children’s education, of course).

And that is a huge responsibility.

But I’m here to equip you to get clear, confident, and intentional so you don’t have to be uncertain: you really can do this homeschool thing.

Here are a few common concerns that new homeschool families have and you might want to know:
If you have any questions, you’re welcome to send a message here.

Schedule a consultation with Teresa Wiedrick, the Homeschool Life Coach: how to start homeschooling in British Columbia and registered homeschool versus online learning
My youngest and I planning a field trip in Vancouver

And of course, to know how to start homeschooling in British Columbia, you’ll want to know the legalities according to provincial law too.

What does the provincial government say about how to start homeschooling in British Columbia (registered homeschool versus online learning)?

In British Columbia, many kids online learn from home (if you enroll as an online learner, even though you’re learning at home and you might identify as a homeschooler, the BC government doesn’t acknowledge you as a homeschooler unless you’re a registered homeschooler).

The BC government maintains a close connection to the online learner with an online learning school, a teacher/learning consultant, and learning outcomes, which might include grades, exams, and all that jazz.

It looks like homeschooling to the schooled world, because the kids are typically at home doing their work, but the government does not acknowledge it as such. You don’t get to choose your educational program. You’re accountable to the BC Ministry of Education.

Everyone chooses different approaches for different reasons: so, to each their own, of course.

But since I went into this lifestyle for a whole lot of freedom, I chose the Registered Homeschooling path.

  • Freedom to learn what we want to learn.
  • Freedom to live a less constrained life.
  • Freedom to live a family-centric life.
  • Freedom to travel.
  • Freedom to enable an individualized education.
  • Freedom to choose our social connections.
  • Freedom to live a life on purpose.
  • Freedom, freedom, freedom…
…And now that I’ve done this for as long as I have, I know I don’t need outside intervention to direct my children’s education.

(Eventually, most homeschoolers gradually grow in this confidence too).

And I know that Section 12/13 Registered Homeschooling of the British Columbia School Act maximizes my family’s home learning freedoms too.

ps I’m not one for learning provincial law for fun either, but it serves you to be familiar with this part of the law so you are more confident and can address others’ concerns (like when you have to field random concerned questions from your aunt or your neighbor, or the grocery cashier…cause girlfriend, those questions will come).

When you’re asked “Is homeschooling legal?” you can confidently answer, “Heck yeah, you can check it out under the BC School Act under Section 12/13.”

(And you’ll also know how to address school officials that aren’t familiar with the law because a lot of them don’t know either.)

registered homeschool versus online learning: choosing how to start homeschooling in British Columbia
So much freedom in the homeschool lifestyle.

My first perceptions about homeschooling before I did it…

Once upon a time, I had an expectation my family would experience utopia via a homeschool life.

Early on, I wrote about my three little girls in white dresses, slamming screen doors as they ran in from our Prince Edward Island homestead garden, enjoying readalouds with tea in the afternoon, reading classics like Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables, on our white couch, and living happily ever after.

You know, utopia.

And yes, for some reason, it had to happen in Prince Edward Island, not British Columbia.

And why a white couch? Because I already purchased one from Ikea (which I might add is the antithesis of homeschool utopia: a white couch in any family home is always unwise!)

I learned that homeschool is not utopia, there are plenty of challenges along the way, but if you’re clear on why you’re doing it and you’re willing to learn a few strategies, you’ll overcome a lot of those challenges.

Turns out my three little girls are way past wearing white dresses now: they’re 22, 20, and 18. (They’re more likely to wear Lulu lemons or waist-high jean cut-offs.) We added a son to the mix. He’s 14 and about to enter high school.

I learned you can homeschool in every province of Canada, not just PEI.

We have indeed read a bajillion readalouds with tea in the afternoon, we got rid of that white couch, and didn’t live happily ever after, but have enjoyed so many moments and memories because of this big beautiful freedom-based lifestyle called homeschooling.

What my reality is and what my original vision was definitely were not the same, but freedom most certainly has remained a constant family companion.

Here are a few of the challenges I’ve had to overcome:

No question, it hasn’t been utopia, but what an amazing lifestyle for family living!

There are remarkable opportunities as a homeschool family: whether you decide to register to homeschool or enroll in online learning.

Now to the legalities of homeschooling in British Columbia: you have to choose registered homeschooling versus online learning before you start.

There are two ways to enter the home learning world in British Columbia. One way to home learn in British Columbia is known as registered homeschooling and another way is known as online learning

Let’s talk about the difference between registered homeschool versus online learning…

1. You can register as a homeschooler according to Section 12/13 of the BC School Act.

If you choose the Registered Homeschool option, you are not required to follow the BC curriculum, there is no mandatory testing at all, and your child is not required to work toward grade 12 graduation with a Dogwood Certificate.

ps I had a daughter graduate from high school without a Dogwood and without a high school diploma, yet she still took local community college classes before she left home and will graduate from her college program this week.

The only thing required of you is to provide an educational program that you believe will sufficiently…

An educational program is designed to enable learners to become literate, to develop their individual potential and to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy, democratic and pluralistic society and a prosperous and sustainable economy.

–British Columbia School Act definitions for Section 12/13

Yet, with this homeschool freedom, you do not receive any government funding.

Also note: Registered Homeschoolers can enter the school system at any time they wish, with no testing or preadmission required.

ps I also had two daughters enter public high school for grade 10. (They were both registered homeschoolers). Neither had a challenge adjusting or transitioning.

Know that if they decide to go this route in their high school years, they don’t have to enroll as an online learner before their high school years. Your kids can be registered homeschoolers before enrolling in public school.

Homeschool registration must be completed by September 30th (if you know you are going to homeschool for the upcoming school year).

However, you are free to pull your child from school at any point throughout the year and register at that time.

You can register with a public school or independent school of your choice. BC’s Homeschool Association (BCHEA) has a handy list of options for where to register for homeschooling in BC.

2. You can also enroll as an online learner: this learning program is authorized by the Ministry of Education and is simply another method of curriculum delivery within the education system.
As an online learner, the student is expected to follow the BC curriculum and meet the learning outcomes at grade level. You are assigned a teacher liaison/learning consultant who is considered by the Ministry to be in charge of your child’s education.

Depending on the online learning school, there may be regular reporting, report cards, and expectations like a brick-and-mortar school.

There is a fair amount of variation in online learning schools: there are both public and independent ones. The website LearnNowBC has a complete listing of the public DL programs.

Once upon a time, there was a reasonable allotment for online learning students. That is not so anymore.

For further information on all the rules and options:

Hey, and can I just say, welcome to homeschooling!

If you’re new to homeschooling, you want to learn more how to start homeschooling in British Columbia or you want options to help you transition toward clarity, confidence & vision in your homeschool life…

You can do this first homeschool year alone, of course.

You can do your first homeschool year by…

(And you really should do some of those things, of course).

But if you want someone to encourage and inspire you, if you want someone who can help clarify your challenges during the most demanding year of your homeschool family life, I’m here to walk alongside you.

If you wonder if that might be a benefit, join me in a chat. (There is no fee to connect and learn more about me and my coaching offerings).

I look forward to connecting with you & learning about you and your family.

And welcome to homeschooling! You got this girlfriend!

Teresa, Wiedrick, Homeschool Life Coach

Teresa Wiedrick, Homeschool Life Coach
www.capturingthecharmedlifecom Learn how to start homeschooling in British Columbia and let's chat registered homeschool versus online learning.

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Teresa Wiedrick

I help overwhelmed homeschool mamas shed what’s not working in their homeschool & life, so they can show up authentically, purposefully, and confidently in their homeschool & life.