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New to homeschooling in Nova Scotia?

Homeschooling in Nova Scotia three people laying on the floor reading together

This page is for you! We know it can be overwhelming to get started with home education. We’re can help with some of the basics of homeschooling in Nova Scotia.

We've pulled together some of our most popular resources for getting started with homeschooling in Nova Scotia. If you’d still like more guidance, please don’t hesitate to reach out using the contact form.

Is homeschooling in Nova Scotia legal?

YES! Homeschooling is legal in every province of Canada. In Nova Scotia, the Department of Education outlines the legislation for home education. Start by reviewing the legislation and homeschooling Q&A on the Nova Scotia Department of Education website. This site details the requirements.

How do I begin?

If your child is pre-school age (under 5), you’re already home educating them! Everything we do with and around our children helps them learn. Playing, singing, reading, colouring, talking, even chores is facilitating learning. Transitioning from this to your first year of homeschooling is quite simple. First, you can begin to add more advanced topics to your playing, reading, and conversations. If you’re looking for more structure, you can begin by adding short “lessons” to your day. Then you can increase the time you spend with structured activities as it suits you and your child.

When you’re ready to register for grade primary, (in the year your child turns five), you’ll:

  1. Register with the Department of Education by filling in a form and submitting it in September each year.
  2. Report on your child’s progress within your chosen areas of study in June each year.

Dont' forget to take a look at the Roles and Responsibilities page from the Department of Education. This helps you to understand your legal obligations as a homeschooling parent. Don’t worry, they’re not onerous!

The Homeschooling in Nova Scotia site also has a wonderful resource that outlines the steps for starting to homeschool in Nova Scotia.

How do I legally withdraw my child from school?

If you have decided to homeschool and your child is already in public school then you simply need to:

  • Inform the school that you will be homeschooling your child and ask them to take your child off of their school register.
  • Complete the Nova Scotia Department of Education Homeschooling Registration Form and send it in to the Department of Education to register your child as a homeschooler.

How do I start homeschooling my child?

A key thing to remember is that your child will learn best when they are interested and developmentally ready to explore a task. This developmental readiness is highly variable. Comparing your child to others their age is not an accurate indication of their own learning abilities or readiness to learn.
Another key thing to remember is that a stressed brain causes your child’s higher-level cognitive abilities to shut down. No amount of persisting in the stressed state will help them learn.

If your child has had negative experiences around school-type learning, then they may initially associate any school type activities at home with the same stresses they experienced in school. This will set them up to have the same negative associations about homeschooling as they had about public schooling. We explore ways to help avoid that negative association in the next section.

Also, note that your homeschooling will not require as much time as a public-school day. Public school teachers have many children to teach and transition times to deal with which is why the school day is 6 hours long. You have far fewer children to deal with as a homeschooling parent, so your daily curriculum coverage will take much less time than a public-school day.

What is “deschooling” and how can it help my child?

After withdrawing your child, you may be tempted to jump right into whatever program, curriculum, or method you’ve chosen for homeschooling. However, if your child has negative associations with school then it’s advisable, to embark on a period of deschooling to help them rediscover their innate love of learning.

“Deschooling” is a period of time where your child adjusts to being out of school and generally doesn’t involve much formal school-type learning activities – focusing more on a life-learning approach. This allows them to rebuild their positive outlook on learning as they rediscover learning through their interests and real-life activities. You can read more about deschooling, why it’s important, and how to do it, in the HomeschoolMom’s blog post here.

However, if your child is wanting some school type of activities in their daily routine in the beginning, then feel free to do so straight from the start. Just remember to also partner with them on exploring their interests and learning from those as well.

The same is true if your child has never been to school and you are transitioning from a play-based, life-learning approach to a curricular one. Have your overall curricular plan in mind but ease into it gently – perhaps by incorporating one curricular area of study at a time and growing into your full program of study at a pace that maximizes your child’s engagement by tapping into their innate joy of learning.

What do I teach?

This is a big question. Before you complete the Department of Education registration form, you’ll want to explore the many options for HOW to educate your child at home. There are many different ways to “do” homeschool. Below are a few resources for learning more about these.

We recommend you consider how your child likes to learn best, your reasons for homeschooling, and the best ways to match these with an education program. The sky is the limit. This can seem overwhelming, but you also have a lot of flexibility to do what works best for you AND your child’s educational needs.

The Department of Education does have curriculum outcomes available for each grade organized by subject. These can be used as a guideline for putting together your own program of study, but this is NOT required. You have full flexibility to include whatever subjects and content you deem appropriate for your child’s education. There are also MANY off-the-shelf curriculum packages available from a wide variety of suppliers, as well as many individual resources. Before deciding on a curriculum or resources, you first need to decide what approach you’ll take.

We've also put together a list of some curricula and resources in a list. The list is by no means exhaustive and some methods of homeschooling don't even require a curriculum. You can check out our list here.

The Canadian Homeschooler site has a great “How to Homeschool in Canada” resource which, in addition to providing broader information about homeschooling, also provides descriptions of some of the most common approaches/theories/methodologies for homeschooling. The Canadian Homeschooler also has a “Homeschool Planning: The Ultimate Guide to “Planning Your Homeschool Year” resource which can be very helpful as well.

How can we help?

Other members have found the above to be extremely useful in helping navigate homeschooling in Nova Scotia. We hope you’ve also benefitted from reading. Whether you’re just researching, new to homeschooling, or a veteran, we hope this has been a helpful and informative read. We also have our Frequently Asked Questions page available to answer other questions you may have.

If you still have questions, feel free to reach out and Contact Us if you would like further support on your homeschooling journey in Nova Scotia. After all, that’s what NSHEA is here for! Don't forget to follow us on our Facebook page. We also provide in-person and virtual support at workshops and events throughout the year.

Consider becoming a member. All membership fees go back into our organization. The small fee helps us help more people homeschooling in Nova Scotia! Join here!