Updated: Jul 6
Two years ago Quebec began requiring the writing of a learning project for homeschooling. I was pretty well freaked out, if I am honest. The last two years I have successfully written up learning projects that have in no way been questioned by my rep. I feel very comfortable writing them now and am going into this year feeling very confident about the project. I want to extend some of that confidence on to you.
The first thing I did was figure out what we would likely be doing. I am planning to finish up our Shiller Math curriculum this year. Math is the one thing I have purchased curriculum for because it makes me feel more comfortable teaching math without gaps. Other than that, the kiddo wants to learn about geography, which is part of his learning competency requirements for 7th grade, so that's great. He also wants to research wild plants for a board game he is designing, do chemistry, and learn about civil rights.
Next, I took a look at the competencies for sec 1 to see what we would cover in the school system, aka required by the government. Language arts was a non issue as all the other subjects we are covering will require it in some form. Chemistry and biology aspects will cover most competencies for science. He wants to cover the topics for Social Science's geography, so non-issue there. You can find the printable we used for geography here. Our math curriculum covers enough of the competencies, so that is good. That just leaves French. I guess we are going to use My French Coach on the Nintendo DS and the kiddo plays the Pokemon video game in French as well. There may be some competencies that I need to sneak into our days over the course of the year to please the DEM, but there is no specified amount of time that needs to be spent on them. many can be covered in a short YouTube video or conversation.
Finally, the writing of the actual learning project commences. A big key to writing this is to use the correct language. If you sound like you know what you are doing, they will be more likely to assume that you do. I need to tell the ministry about my homeschool method. I could simply say it is kind of like unschooling but with math and French. Instead I write this:
I utilize an eclectic homeschool approach made up of various styles of education. I utilize Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and Waldorf style methods. Combining techniques allows me to teach each subject or topic in the most effective way possible.
So, why did I choose this particular phrasing? First, these are all well known and respected methods. There are also aspects of each of these that we utilize and believe in. We love to learn from living books instead of text books, which is very important to a Charlotte Mason education. Shiller Math is actually a Montessori program, but we also firmly believe in child directed learning outside of the math program. Waldorf represents our desire to take our kids out into the wild world to learn, make things by hand, and share our faith with them. Eclectic is the term for using multiple methods and sounds intentional. The problem with labeling your homeschool as unschooling is that it sounds unintentional and unprofessional. The DEM will imagine that your children are basically feral and that you don't engage with them in any way. That is a big red flag. I would encourage you to be as eloquent as possible in your method description.
In writing your subject descriptions, I would recommend being vague. They need to have an idea of what you will cover and feel like you are going to get in some of the required competencies. They don't need a precise list of every topic and competency that you will absolutely cover. It is more important to show your intentions and, again, show that you are confident and capable. Here is how I typically write a subject up:
Our main focus for science will be chemistry. "Kiddo" will be working with a chemistry set. I will teach this topic through the use of research reports, hands-on activities, art projects, observation, discussion, and documentaries.
I start by telling what our main focus is. It tells the DEM that I will absolutely be covering this topic to some extent but I will also be covering other topics as well. I shared that we will be working with a chemistry set, not that we will complete the activities from the set. I don't want to pigeon hole myself into being required to finish anything because I said I would. As I said before, there is no specific amount of time or assignments required to cover any topic or competency. Perhaps, the kiddo will get the point and be able to move on, thus leaving a project unfinished. I also share the types of resources we will be using, for example: not the precise documentaries, just documentaries. Here is another example for Math:
I will be using Shiller Math. We will work in the 5th and 6th workbooks. Assignments include book work as well as hands-on activities. The main topics covered this year will be decimals and percentages as well as an introduction to geometry and algebra.
Since we are using a program for math, I made sure to describe some of what it will teach and how it will be taught. It teaches more than I mentioned, but the topics I put in specifically cover the competencies for Sec 1 math. The DEM is not terribly interested in the topics that do not specifically pertain to the competencies.
If you are using our unit studies as part of your curriculum, to any extent, feel free to put in unit studies. Just share a few of the competencies they will cover. For example, if you want to use our new unit about governments, for language arts you might say:
I will be using unit studies that cover reading, writing creatively, and research papers. They also include listening and speaking activities.
For other subjects you might include:
The unit studies I will teach with utilize research reports, hands-on activities, art projects, observation, discussion, games, and documentaries.
Just make sure to share what your topic(s) of focus will be. You may notice in the phrasing that I said what the units include, not which of those thing you are actually using. You will share the specifics in your portfolio, if that is how you do reviews. You can find our post about how to make a great, DEM approved, portfolio here.
I have only made minor adjustments to my learning project each year. If you get a nice project put together and your DEM approves it, don't try to reinvent the wheel each year. I hope this guide will help you get your learning project done with a bit less stress and a bit more confidence. Yes, the laws may change at any moment, but this has worked well for me for two years and I will continue doing it like this as long as I am able. Good luck writing!
Update: Want to know how things went with our 2020-2021 learning project? Check out the post here.