A growing number of Canadian families are choosing to home-school their children, according to a new study from the Fraser Institute.
It says 21,662 Canadian children were registered as home-schooled students in 2012, an increase of 29 per cent over a five-year period, but acknowledges there are more homes-schooled kids not officially registered.
The study released today suggests that while decisions to home-school in the past were driven by ideology or religion, families are now choosing the option for more pragmatic reasons.
For example, home-schooling corresponds with personal circumstances such as having children in time-consuming extra-curricular activities, a child with a health or learning disability or because the family lives in a remote location or travels extensively.
The study notes policymakers are paying attention to the jump in numbers, with at least five provinces having updated or expanded homeschooling regulations since 2007.
All provinces require home-school parents to register or notify the authorities of their home schooling. Three provinces – Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec – require submission of a formal educational plan and evidence of student progress.
The Fraser Institute says research in both Canada and the United States has consistently found that home-schooled students score in the higher percentiles compared to kids public schools on standardized tests in reading, writing and mathematics.
"Parents are increasingly looking for more choice in how their children are educated and home schooling is proving to be a viable choice," said Deani Van Pelt, study author and director of the Fraser Institute's Barbara Mitchell Centre for Improvement in Education.
"These figures point to a growing number of Canadians who, for a variety of reasons, feel that their child's interests are best served by an education program that occurs largely outside of a traditional institutional setting."