Building Strong Families in Quebec

Happy family

Meet Manon and Magda! Two women brimming with passion and vigour, they dedicate their time helping homeschoolers in Quebec — and they are making a huge impact! 

Having homeschooled their own children, they both attest to the beautiful way in which homeschooling has enabled their families to be very close. Magda’s three children had the opportunity to spend time together on outings and travel, outside of their academics, and her adult children are now all best friends. Manon nods in agreement, adding with a smile that her grown children had no choice but to marry spouses who could love and accept each of their siblings.

Aside from a great deal of success in their children’s academics, their close-knit relationships are a testament to the richness of homeschooling.

The two now work together to ensure that others in their province can continue to enjoy the freedom to homeschool their children and have the same family closeness that they have experienced. And they do so with great passion and competence. In fact, Manon had to arrive late to the interview because she handles HSLDA’s Quebec crisis line and had received a call from a homeschooling family with a pressing issue. Both women are very familiar with  the laws in Quebec, especially with recent changes, and they offer crucial support to homeschooling families.

 

Government Requirements in Quebec

Quebec, because of its stringent homeschool laws, is one of the toughest places to homeschool in Canada. While many Canadians outside of Quebec enjoy the freedom to homeschool with an abundance of choice in subject matter and methodology, Quebecois homeschoolers are tied to demanding government restrictions and policy. Families must complete a long list of government requirements:

  1. Send a notice of intent to homeschool to the Ministry of Education and to the school board; 
  2. Submit a learning project (equivalent to what is taught in schools) to the government by the end of September every year which must be approved by the government; 
  3. Complete two progress reports – one mid-year, one at the end of the year; 
  4. Submit a portfolio at the end of the year or have their child evaluated by a Quebecois teacher;
  5. Have a meeting with the Ministry of Education representative.

Many Canadian families use US homeschool material because there is so much more available; however, Quebec families do not have that option, particularly in high school. In Quebec, there is a specific scope and sequence for studying material, particularly in math, science and social studies, which is very different from that of American programs or programs from other Canadian provinces. Quebec students can use material from other provinces or countries, but they must make sure that it is equivalent to the material in the Quebec Education Program (QEP).

Moreover, students must prepare themselves for Ministerial Exams.Thus, the scope and sequence of what homeschooled youth study must align with the QEP This is important because every student, in private school, public school, or homeschool, must write ministerial exams in accordance with the new law in grades four, six, nine, ten, and eleven. The exams line up with what is taught in the schools, so everyone must learn the same content in order to take the exams.  

Of course, these Ministerial requirements and the substantial oversight by the Ministry creates a great deal of stress and discouragement, at times, for homeschooling families in Quebec. 

 

Helping Families Receive a High Quality Education

Manon and Magda

Magda and Manon are working in a variety of ways to help homeschoolers navigate this difficult system and to find ways to help parents homeschool their children according to their family values by:

  • Explaining the homeschool laws;
  • Offering resources;
  • Teaching families how to be within the law with flexibility;
  • Representing them if the family has issues with government reps;
  • Helping families fill out government forms;
  • Preparing families for meetings with educators;
  • Accompanying families to meetings; 
  • Operating a crisis line.

Manon maintains a good working relationship with the director of the DEM, which is the Ministerial branch overseeing homeschooling in Quebec. She reaches out to the director of the DEM when homeschooling families have any issues that require the director’s involvement. 

Despite how hard their work is, and how acutely aware they are of the difficulties the new Quebec laws pose for homeschoolers, they still manage to see a silver lining: having some government oversight, however intrusive it might feel, means that children’s learning won’t fall through the cracks. And this is their heart – that families would absolutely thrive both relationally and academically. 

Both women agree: building strong family relationships makes it worth the inevitable difficulties. Manon loves that her “family is really unified,” and she says, “We just like to be together.” Realizing that homeschooling has strengthened their families in immeasurable ways inspires them both to continue working tirelessly so that current and future homeschool families in Quebec can enjoy that same privilege.