Is it distance learning or homeschooling?


There is a lot of information circulating on social networks and in the media that creates questions and concerns for many of you. There are differences between distance learning and homeschooling.

Distance Learning

In a distance learning situation, the organization providing the courses or the school service centre is responsible for the child’s education. Distance learning is not accessible in Quebec for children under 16 years of age, except in the current context of a pandemic when the child or one of his or her relatives has a medical ticket attesting to a health risk related to potential COVID contamination. (Note that at the end of high school, some courses are accessible via distance learning with the Beauce-Etchemin school service centre). 


Fillette étudiant en ligne

This educational situation is not in keeping with AQED’s mission, which is to bring together and support parents who choose homeschooling. However, families who wish to do so are welcome to join our networks, as some discussions or advice may be useful to them (for example, on managing telework and the presence of the child at home.)


In a homeschooling situation, the parent takes full responsibility for the education of his or her child and must therefore carry out the various stages of monitoring their education. A description of this process can be found on the page Overview of our website. The child is then exempted from compulsory school attendance. The parent organizes the child’s education by choosing the resources that seem relevant to the chosen educational intention: teaching materials, textbooks, board games, children’s literature, etc. 

The parent may also choose to use a structured curriculum for one or more subjects and teach according to the progression set out in that curriculum (for example, the French CNED). Alternatively, the parent may choose to call upon a tutor or teacher for one or more subjects and thus delegate the teaching of these subjects to this person, which could be similar to a distance education context since it is not the parent who teaches and develops the educational and pedagogical activities.

However, the educational context is still that of homeschooling with its associated legal requirements. The parent must therefore at all times be able to comment, among other things, on his child’s progress, difficulties, successes and the content of the instruction received, in order to be able to complete the documentation for the attention of the Direction ministérielle de l’enseignement à la maison (DEM).

Current health crisis

This being said, the peculiarity of the current situation, namely the fact that distance education is not accessible to all families, means that a good number of families turn to homeschooling and make this choice to exempt their child from the obligation to attend school. Making this choice for health or sanitary reasons, some parents are looking for alternatives to developing themselves a complete curriculum for their child (e.g., using a full-time teacher to teach several children all subjects at the same time). This is an unusual situation in the context of homeschooling. At no point in the legislation is there any mention of a maximum number of tutoring hours that a homeschooled child should not exceed, nor is there any mention of a maximum number of children who may participate together in a tutoring session.

It is therefore important to stress that, regardless of a parent’s pedagogical choices, he remains legally responsible and accountable to the DEM for the educational experience of their child.

The consequences, including political consequences, of this craze for homeschooling are difficult to predict. While a democratization of home education, hybrid solutions in education, or even access for all to distance education are desirable, there may also be unpleasant consequences: tighter supervision of the practice of homeschooling, a multi-speed education system, etc. It is more than ever important to make educated decisions with full knowledge of the facts.

In these stressful and anxious times for everyone, we invite you to remain caring and attentive to one another. Some people’s choices do not necessarily meet the needs of others, and the beauty of homeschooling lies in the fact that each family makes its own choices in accordance with its values, its needs and its child’s profile.

At any time if you have questions, do not hesitate to contact AQED support and volunteers will be happy to answer you.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as reflecting the position of AQED.

Traduit par Marie-Jo Demers