Socialization and Learning Centers

Version originale, française

We’ve included links to quality information for deeper readings for those so inclined. Thank you for your interest.

Questions about socialization are familiar to people practicing alternatives to state-led education. It’s an important issue, and is usually raised by someone who cares for our kids and for our society.

Here is gentle response to some of those questions as well as a look at the current situation in Quebec.  

Well organized public schools are a great benefit to our society:

  • Young people learn to live with others.
  • Teachers inspire and instruct.
  • Young people experience a variety of activities and social situations.
  • Graduates have a common template of society’s general and relevant knowledge.
  • Control of health and public safety and social statistics collection is simplified.
  • The measuring of theoretical knowledge between individuals is simplified.
  • They are centers of exploration and cultural developments.

Well-organized family education is of great benefit for children:

  • They are motivated by interest and learn quickly, concepts are clearer, and retention more successful. They develop more effective and personalized learning methods. (Perspectives on Psychological Science)
  • In Quebec, their parents are secular and their reasons “are neither religious, anti-state, nor ideological. The main factors underlying this choice are a desire to pursue a family educational project, an objection to the current school system, a desire to offer an enriched experience and and the social and emotional development of their children.” Translated from the original version, this study: Université de Sherbrooke. C. Brabant .
  • These children are able to enter or reenter school if they choose to do so. According to the Quebec Ombudsmen: “Several studies consulted observe that children who are homeschooled, at the elementary and secondary levels, have a learning pace and academic achievement equivalent to or better than those attending school.” Several other studies specific to homeschooling in Quebec are cited in this report of the Protecteur du Citoyen: Schooling at Home: For the Respect of the Right to Children’s Education:  La scolarisation à la maison : pour le respect du droit à l’éducation des enfants.
  • As adults, homeschooled kids are generally more engaged in society, more satisfied with their long term choices, and life-long learners. Psychology Today, After Summerhill, H. Lucas amazon,ca 

Perspectives on Socialization

Socialization is about learning to adopt certain behaviors and attitudes. From a sociological view, the idea of entrusting a mission of socialization to school comes from the need to ensure a common culture among the various cohorts of young people integrating into adult life. From a psychological point of view, the concept of socialization refers more to the question of the development of the know-how in the individual for behaving in a respectful and effective way among different groups of people.

School is an environment that fosters socialization. However, homeschooling does not preclude the social learning necessary for the child to integrate into society and into their culture. In practice, it is rather the reverse. A majority of these families are made up of at least one parent with a level of higher education, and their kids go to post-secondary education 74% of the time. (Most of the others are entrepreneurs.) They make judicious use of scientific exploration centers, museums and cultural centers. (Université de Sherbrooke. C. Brabant, HSLDA (1) Fraser Institute)

From the psychological point of view of socialization, learning to speak with kindness, to wait our turn, to express emotions with respect is done in countless spheres of life: cultural activities, sports teams, parks, extended family, as well as in community learning centers. (Protecteur du Citoyen)

There is a concern that children in school not become too isolated, too much indoctrinated to the beliefs of their parents, and that their talents be recognized and supported. This concept that it takes a village to grow a child is often at the heart of family decisions. In some cases, when things are not going well, there may be a social problem, “educational neglect”. This is addressed by the professionals of the DPJ and our youth protection laws as well as by experienced orthopedagogues. Apart from those rare and complex circumstances, studies have been consistent for several decades: homeschooled children have excellent social outcomes. They remain confident, can express their needs and are committed citizens into adulthood. (Université de Sherbrooke. C. Brabant, HSLDA (2))

The Role of Learning Centers

Among other solutions permitted by law, learning centers provide a synthesis of the benefits of homeschooling and the benefits of public schooling. These centers work with passionate specialists with a variety of experiences, focuses, and resources. Their directors respond promptly to the specific needs of families through flexible and democratic processes on which depends their capacity to deliver the benefits of both operations, as well as appropriate services.

Although the unique nature of such an organization must be preserved in order to maintain its effectiveness, there are several possible structures for the organization of a learning center, almost all active today in Quebec:

  • Public alternative schools (RÉPAQ)
  • Private alternative schools, such as Agile, Montessori, Green and Waldorf
  • Democratic Schools / Free Schools
  • First Nations Education Centers
  • Community Learning Centers
  • Religious school day / homeschooling evening
  • Resource-Sharing Groups
  • In science / museum / music / sports centers, etc.
  • In local schools
  • Adapted services, public and private

Thanks to the educators and the families who run these centers, our young people have access to options that our good universities and some 200 years of the practice of educational alternatives offer. Those who are lucky enough to live near a learning center can benefit from an education and socialization of the highest quality.

The Situation in Quebec: Gray Areas and the Protecteur du Citoyen

In Quebec, it is more difficult than elsewhere in Canada, the United States, or Europe to provide a rich social life for our children in homeschooling. Always aware of the need, our families form self-help groups, with few resources and little certainty of respect for their rights from one decision to another. The Protecteur du Citoyen (Ombudsman’s Office) asked the members of our National Assembly to respond to these shortcomings.

The somewhat bizarre situation of democratic schools, also called free schools, is an example of a situation that the reform can resolve. Being secular and urban, and often established by engaged and educated parents and teachers, these centers respond particularly to families who wish to promote critical thinking, creativity and civic involvement in young persons. There are more than 300 public democratic schools in the world, including 20 in France, 7 in Canada and more than 30 in Israel. (IDEA, EUDEC) Graduates have good results (After Summerhill, H Lucas, However, although all other centers on the list above exist in Quebec, the status of democratic schools remains unclear. There are no such schools in Quebec. To be in operation, such a learning center must be able to hire professionals to teach workshops or series of courses, to do so in line with rights-based pedagogy, and offer its services to families in all socio-economic situations. There is the issue of parental supervision for young children to consider, as well. For the time being, that’s required only during school hours. To illustrate: these young people can take a group math or geography course only on evenings or weekends. These are costly and not very useful complications. (REDAQ Blog: Les écoles démocratiques au Québec)

Fortunately, we have occaision to discuss together what we want to offer our children and our future in Quebec, as well as with First Nations people who share some of our school system. Our historical reform is taking place in these short weeks and months, and your voice on these issues is very important. In parent groups, among experts and school boards, and among our elites and elected officials who dedicated themselves to the issue of home education in recent months – several actions are possible and started, and there is a lot of good will.


Today we have a great opportunity to involve people who are interested in the educational experiences of our young people. Family, friends, neighbors and all the resources of our communities, learning centers and schools can participate in the progress of all children and, through them, in the progress of our society.

Thank you very much for your interest and for your comments.

Tammy Mackenzie, tammy@redaq.caChristine Perry christine@redaq.caAnnie Duplessis,



Here are some paths to actions and discussions of the Quebec community in

Education, home education, and reform. (Herein lives democracy 🙂 )

Political actions:

  • Email your MNA, and let them know what’s important to you
  • Make an appointment with your homeschooling school board representative 
  • Follow the path of the law and Calls for Comments from the Assemblée nationale 
  • Discuss these ideas with your entourage

Social Actions: