For parents thinking of making the transition from public school to home school can now gain support from veterans.

For a multitude of different reasons, including an ongoing worldwide pandemic, many parents around Manitoba are making the change to homeschooling.

Gerald Huebner is the Chairman of the Homeschool Legal Defence Association of Canada and he is also on the board of Manitoba Association of Christian Homeschools.

Huebner says, "It's been a very busy couple weeks with the many questions people have, and helping with the tough decisions parents have been making."

This past month the association offered online sessions to help inform parents and guardians of what homeschooling can look like in each home.

"In response to parents' questions about the option of home education we organized two "Exploring Home Education" sessions last week and we recorded them so they're available on our website."

As school begins, there will be a learning curve as families explore a new way of doing education, for both children and parents. Huebner and the association have created a support call for this reason.

"We're going to be continuing to provide a weekly call-in zoom meeting. So we'll have 'veteran' homeschooling parents available on each call every Tuesday evening from 7:00 - 9:00 pm. The objective is for parents who are wondering about it, thinking about it, have questions, are starting homeschooling and looking for support. It's free and an opportunity to come online and just ask the questions that people have."

For parents who are on the fence about homeschooling, a decision can be made at any time throughout the year. 

"The option of parents to choose to keep their children at home in home education is always open. Some parents start the year doing it while some after a week, two weeks, or a month feel they need to make a decision and can decide then. The law in Manitoba says that you have to notify the government within 30 days of starting home-schooling."

For parents or guardians who make the decision to home-school their child or children, the curriculum is needed. Although it can take a while to receive these resources in the mail, Huebner says there is a way to get started immediately. 

"Some providers are backed up until October because of the demand across the US and Canada, but there are great free online curriculums that people can utilize that we'll be talking about this evening on our call."

There are many parents who have already moved in the direction of home education due to the pandemic. 

"Just as an example, our membership has expanded dramatically. I know in Western Manitoba a group out there has gone from 20 families to over 250 families, so the interest is big. Now, these are people that are exploring it, as not all have made the final decision but many are."

For moms, dads, and guardians who have stepped into this role for the first time, Huebner shares his advice. 

"Take a deep breath. Don't worry that you have to have everything figured out on day one. Getting to know your kids in a new way, a new relationship is an important part of getting started. It takes a bit of time for kids to get adjusted to this thing of mom or dad or both being their teacher and figuring out that relationship."

Needless to say, this new school year will have it's challenges no matter what decision parents make.

"I think no matter what choice parents make, to send kids back to public school, private school, or keep them home, I think it's important just to affirm that nobody knows your kids like you do. Nobody has your kids' interest at heart like you do. I want to encourage parents to do what they feel is best, and to seek out the help and encouragement they need in doing it." 

Huebner shares that having a community to connect with is an important aspect of moving forward with education.

"Support groups will look different just like schools look different. It's being able to talk about it amongst parents, talk about how things are going and what ideas do you have. That sharing is what we're really trying to do on Tuesday nights."