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Homeschooling Terms and Definitions from A2Z

What You Need to Know to Speak and Understand the Language of Homeschooling

By: Mindy Scirri, Ph.D.

You decided to start homeschooling, and now you need to learn a new language? I am not talking about Spanish or Latin. I am talking about Homeschool-ese! When you begin any new adventure, there is always terminology that veterans know but newbies do not. The homeschooling adventure is no different. There is homeschooling terminology that can help you understand your state’s education laws, and there are homeschooling words that are really education buzzwords but can help you be successful on your journey. Finally, there are terms that are unique to homeschooling—and are frankly a bit odd—like “lapbooking” and “unschooling.” Relax! We have you covered. Here is your cheat sheet of homeschool terms and definitions from A to Z!

 

 

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B C D E F G H I

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L M N O P Q

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S T U V W X Y Z

 


 

A | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Absence Reporting:  Some states require that homeschoolers track the attendance of their children due to compulsory attendance requirements in that state. Check your state’s homeschool laws to find out whether absence reporting is one of your obligations as a homeschool parent. 

Academic Hours:  Some states require that homeschoolers track the number of hours that a child is engaged in educational activities. Your state or local school district may require a certain number of units for the year, and these units equate to a certain number of academic hours per week. In some states, and sometimes only for certain grade levels (i.e., middle and high school), homeschoolers may need to track academic hours per subject or course. You will want to check with your state’s homeschool laws to determine whether you will need to track academic hours in your homeschool. AKA “Hours of Instruction”

Accidental Homeschooler:  An accidental homeschooler is someone who did not plan to do homeschooling but becomes a homeschooler unexpectedly. There are many possible reasons you may become an accidental homeschooler, including the need to better support your child’s academic, emotional, or behavioral challenges; the avoidance of a safety issue, such as bullying or school violence (or COVID-19); a poor fit with your child’s teacher; or dissatisfaction with a school or its curriculum. If you find that you have become an accidental homeschooler, don’t worry. We have all kinds of resources for you on how to start homeschooling!

Afterschooling:  Afterschooling is when your child is in traditional schooling, but you homeschool after hours as a supplement to what your child is learning during the regular school day. You may choose afterschooling if your child has challenges in a particular area, fell behind because of illness or some other reason for absence, has a particular passion for a subject that is not typically taught during regular school hours, or needs to prepare for standardized testing or college/career entrance exams.

Annual Assessment: Some states require that homeschoolers submit an annual assessment demonstrating performance in comparison to peers. Standardized testing is testing that requires uniform administration of the same test (or similar questions taken from the same test bank) and is scored in a consistent way so that a student’s performance can be compared to the performance of peers. In some states, standardized testing is required each year for homeschoolers, and some states do require some standardized testing but not every year. Some states also provide alternatives like portfolios or narratives. Check your state’s homeschool laws to find out whether and what type of testing is required for homeschoolers in your state. AKA “Annual Assessment”

Association:  A homeschool association is a usually private organization that is national or statewide and is designed to support homeschool families. An association provides legal information and the paperwork required to maintain compliance with state homeschool education laws. Some associations also hold annual homeschool conventions and offer information to help homeschoolers find state, regional, and local networks and resources. Do your research to find out what membership entails and if there are any fees. AKA “Homeschool Association”

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B | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Basket Time:  Basket Time is a period of a half an hour to an hour, generally in the morning, when everyone in the family comes together before learning begins in individual subject areas. A basket is filled with books for reading aloud, quiet activities for kids to do during the read alouds, or games that will start the day right. Some families change what is in the basket each month or with the seasons or each term, with some families keeping basket items to a particular theme. Some families also use this time to begin the day with religious or philosophical readings or activities. AKA “Circle Time” or “Morning Basket Time”

Homeschooling Terms and Definitions from A2Z

Boxed Curriculum:  A boxed curriculum is everything you need to teach your child for a particular grade for a particular year. It includes all teacher guides, instructional materials (e.g., books, worksheets, activities), and sometimes even recordkeeping documents. You may choose a boxed curriculum as a convenience and to have the peace of mind that all subjects are covered and appropriate for your child’s grade level. You also do not need to piece together curriculum for different subjects or buy additional materials throughout the year (unless you want to!).

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C | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Carschooling:  Carschooling is a type of traveling homeschooling that involves using time spent in the car to work on academics. Carschoolers may spend extensive amounts of time in their vehicles and use methods like audiobooks and other audio resources to learn during time that might otherwise be non-productive. 

Charlotte Mason Homeschooling:  Charlotte Mason is an approach to homeschooling that focuses on the education of the whole child. The approach was developed by British-born educator, Charlotte Mason, and uses methods such as use of living books, copywork, and narration, while avoiding non-quality books that Mason referred to as twaddle.

Charter Homeschool: A charter homeschool is a form of homeschooling that is run through a government-funded charter school. If your homeschool is part of a charter school homeschool program, your child’s education will be regulated by a state or local school board.

Circle Time:  Basket Time is a period of a half an hour to an hour, generally in the morning, when everyone in the family comes together before learning begins in individual subject areas. A basket is filled with books for reading aloud, quiet activities for kids to do during the read alouds, or games that will start the day right. Some families change what is in the basket each month or with the seasons or each term, with some families keeping basket items to a particular theme. Some families also use this time to begin the day with religious or philosophical readings or activities. AKA “Basket Time” or “Morning Basket Time” 

Classical Homeschooling:  Classical homeschooling is an approach to homeschooling that teaches students through classical texts. Students learn and think through three stages of learning, known as the trivium (from the ancient Greek and Romans): The grammar stage focuses on memorization and repetition of concrete facts. The logic/dialectic stage builds on the prior stage by developing analytical thinking through questioning and logic. Finally, the rhetoric stage requires students to apply their knowledge of facts and analysis skills to express themselves.

Comparable Instruction:  Your role as a homeschooler is not to educate your child exactly the same as your child would have been educated in traditional schooling. You simply need to provide your child with an education that is comparable (compare-able) to what your child would have received. In other words, you need to ensure that your child is prepared with similar knowledge and skills as peers. However, most homeschoolers are not satisfied with providing simply content that meets state standards, and that is one benefit of homeschooling!

Compulsory Attendance:  Compulsory attendance describes the state-required minimum and maximum ages that students must be enrolled in public schooling or some alternative. Like students in private schools and other forms of non-public education, homeschoolers must still comply with the compulsory attendance laws of their states. Be sure to check out your state’s homeschool laws before you begin homeschooling.

Cooperative (Co-op):  A homeschool cooperative (or co-op) is a type of homeschool support group that shares resources among the families. Member families may lend and borrow educational materials, pool together finances to hire tutors or other experts, or even share instruction with a certain class being taught by one parent while another class is taught by a different parent. They may also hold group events, like field trips and gym programs, as well as social opportunities like dances and playdates. AKA “Homeschool Cooperative (Co-op)” 

Copywork:  Based on the Charlotte Mason approach, copywork is an approach to spelling and handwriting that relies on students copying selections from works of literature or scripture. In addition to learning ELA skills from the source literature, students also build fine motor skills and attention to detail while memorizing passages from great works of literature. As children progress, they can move to dictation and narration

Correspondence School:  A correspondence school is a form of distance learning that involves students receiving and submitting educational materials to and from the school via mail, and now may offer courses through online platforms or social networking. Correspondence schools offer classes that are not in “real-time;” in other words, students can complete instruction, assignments, and tests, and then submit materials to the school. These materials are then graded and returned. Students can generally set their own schedules and learn at their own pace, but classes often fit into specific semesters or terms.

Cover School:  A cover school is an organization that supports member homeschool families with legal requirements, recordkeeping, and even hosting educational events. Some provide guidance on instruction (many from certified teachers), and some maintain records and issue such documents as reports cards and student ID cards. Cover schools are all different, and some states require affiliation with such schools for at least certain kinds of homeschoolers. Be sure to check your state’s homeschool laws to find out whether your homeschool needs to be connected with a cover school. AKA “Satellite School” or “Umbrella School”

CurriculumCurriculum, in general, refers to a planned scope and sequence of academic content taught by a school or through a particular program. Homeschoolers, depending on whether they want to incorporate religion into their homeschooling, can choose between a secular homeschool curriculum and a non-secular homeschool curriculum. They can also choose whether they want a boxed curriculum or online curriculum or some combination of subject-specific curriculums. A curriculum can include textbooks or online texts, activities or worksheets, links or other online resources, assignments or projects or quizzes/tests, or any other educational materials that help to provide instruction in the desired content. Regardless, choosing the correct homeschool curriculum is an important part of your planning. AKA “Homeschool Curriculum”

Curriculum Map:  A curriculum map shows the structure and logical sequence of a curriculum across grade levels. It is used to make sure the curriculum is effectively organized and without gaps and repetitions. A curriculum map includes the scope and sequence for the particular subject area or grade level. As a homeschooler, you can use curriculum maps both to choose curriculum and for planning of your school year. 

Cyber School:  A cyber school, or virtual school, is a form of distance learning that enables students to take all or most of their coursework online. Virtual teachers instruct and grade assignments that are submitted online. Cyber schools can be run by state education departments or by public schools or charter schools, in which case enrollment may be free. AKA “Virtual School”

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D | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions 

Deschooling:  If your child is transitioning from traditional schooling to homeschooling, your child may need a period of adjustment. Depending on how long your child has been in traditional schooling and whether there are parts of traditional schooling that had negative impacts on your child, the period of deschooling may be extended from several weeks to several months. During the deschooling period, homeschool activities are light and familiar and do not resemble traditional school classes. Then you gradually build in academics as your child expresses interests and is more and more motivated to learn. 

Distance Learning:  Distance learning is a method of educating students who are not physically present at a school. Distance learning can be in the form of a correspondence school, online school, and cyber or virtual school. It can also refer to specific courses that are offered via mail or online.

Dual Enrollment:  Dual Enrollment is a program offered by some colleges and universities and online academic programs that allows homeschooled high school students to take courses on college campuses or online with traditional college students. Credit can then be applied to both the high school transcript and toward a college degree. Typically, homeschooled students take a couple courses during their Junior and Senior years. Homeschoolers who choose dual enrollment can save money at college, get entry-level college courses out of the way during high school, and build confidence that they can handle college-level work.

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E | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions 

Eclectic Homeschooling:  Eclectic homeschooling is an approach to homeschooling that involves parents designing a highly individualized education for their child. Rather than purchasing a full curriculum set (i.e., a boxed curriculum or online curriculum), they pick and choose the best pieces from a variety of homeschool resources.

Educationese:  Every field has its own terminology and meanings. Educationese, or teacherese, is the name given to the jargon that educators and teachers of educators use in the field. As a homeschooler, knowing some of these terms is useful as you plan instruction and learn how to best educate your child. AKA “Teacherese”

Enrichment:  Enrichment activities are typically afterschool activities that supplement the regular curriculum and encourage students to experiment, take risks, and develop their own interests. These activities are typically more fun and challenging than typical school subjects, so students may be more likely to be engaged and remember information while building important problem solving and critical thinking skills. As a homeschooler, you can incorporate enrichment activities within your school day to extend learning on a particular subject (i.e., go more in-depth) or join enrichment programs through local public schools or organizations after your regular homeschool day. Check with your local homeschool support groups to find out about enrichment programs that are available near you. AKA “Homeschool Enrichment”

Exclusive:  Exclusive describes homeschool support groups that restrict their membership to certain types of homeschoolers. For example, you may find that certain groups focus on a particular homeschooling approach (i.e., Charlotte Mason or Waldorf) or have secular or faith-based memberships. Be sure to read all about a homeschooling support group before joining.

Explore PagesThis is an important term unique to A2ZHomeschooling.com. On the Explore Pages, you will find free resources to use in your homeschool. These pages provide information about topics within Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, Science, Fine Arts, Health & Fitness, Languages, Computer Literacy, Drivers Ed, and General Interest. Come and explore!

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F | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions 

Faith-Based Homeschool:  A faith-based homeschool is one that weaves religious beliefs throughout homeschool activities. If you have a faith-based homeschool, you may use a faith-based curriculum, and you may have decided to homeschool for religious reasons. AKA “Non-secular Homeschool”

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G | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Great Homeschool Conventions:  Great Homeschool Conventions are homeschool conventions offered around the country each year. Each convention features speakers and workshops, as well as a resource exhibit hall, and is a great place to learn, network, and browse. You can bring the whole family!

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H | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Homeschool Association:  A homeschool association is a usually private organization that is national or statewide and is designed to support homeschool families. An association provides legal information and the paperwork required to maintain compliance with state homeschool education laws. Some associations also hold annual homeschool conventions and offer information to help homeschoolers find state, regional, and local networks and resources. Do your research to find out what membership entails and if there are any fees. AKA “Association”

Homeschool Cooperative (Co-op):  A homeschool cooperative (or co-op) is a type of homeschool support group that shares resources among the families. Member families may lend and borrow educational materials, pool together finances to hire tutors or other experts, or even share instruction with a certain class being taught by one parent while another class is taught by a different parent. They may also hold group events, like field trips and gym programs, as well as social opportunities like dances and playdates. AKA “Cooperative (Co-op)”

Homeschool Court Case(s):  In some states, homeschool regulations refer to a court decision or several court decisions rather than a set of homeschooling laws. Homeschool families simply need to follow the guidelines resulting from the court judgments made by judges at the conclusion of cases rather than homeschool laws that were passed by state legislatures. Be sure to do your research regarding your state’s homeschool education laws prior to starting homeschooling in your state.

Homeschool Curriculum:  A homeschool curriculum, in general, refers to a planned scope and sequence of academic content taught by a school or through a particular program. Homeschoolers, depending on whether they want to incorporate religion into their homeschooling, can choose between a secular homeschool curriculum and a non-secular homeschool curriculum. They can also choose whether they want a boxed curriculum or online curriculum or some combination of subject-specific curriculums. A curriculum can include textbooks or online texts, activities or worksheets, links or other online resources, assignments or projects or quizzes/tests, or any other educational materials that help to provide instruction in the desired content. Regardless, choosing the correct homeschool curriculum is an important part of your planning. AKA “Curriculum” 

Homeschool Days:  Homeschool Days are often offered by museums and other organizations to encourage homeschool visits (i.e., “field trips”) during the day. There may be specific educational programming during those days or family-friendly workshops where parents and their children can learn together. Check with your local homeschool support groups or find Homeschool Days near you on our Events page. Homeschool Days often come with free or discounted admission, too!

Homeschool Electives:  Homeschool electives are courses, generally for high school, that are outside of the core curriculum. These may include courses like art, music, business, psychology, sociology, or environmental science. You may choose to include electives for your homeschooled high school student in order to improve on life skills, prepare for college and career choices, or support your child’s interests.

Homeschool Enrichment:  Enrichment activities are typically afterschool activities that supplement the regular curriculum and encourage students to experiment, take risks, and develop their own interests. These activities are typically more fun and challenging than typical school subjects, so students may be more likely to be engaged and remember information while building important problem solving and critical thinking skills. As a homeschooler, you can incorporate enrichment activities within your school day to extend learning on a particular subject (i.e., go more in-depth) or join enrichment programs through local public schools or organizations after your regular homeschool day. Check with your local homeschool support groups to find out about enrichment programs that are available near you. AKA “Enrichment”

Homeschool Law:  Homeschool law is a section of each state’s education law. As a homeschooler, you need to understand how to homeschool in a way that is compliant with your state’s homeschool laws. Before you begin homeschooling, be sure to research your state’s homeschool laws and talk with other homeschoolers in your state!

Homeschool Support GroupWhen you homeschool, you can really benefit from making connections with other people who are homeschooling, especially those in the same state (who have to abide by the same state homeschooling laws). There are different kinds of homeschooling networks you can join from state and regional homeschool associations to local homeschool support groups and cooperatives. Some will meet weekly and have you involved in leading classes or events while others will hold infrequent social or educational opportunities or annual conferences. You can also find purely online networks. Do your research first to find out whether there are membership requirements (i.e., secular or faith-based) and how much of a commitment you need to make in order to join. AKA “Support Group”

Homeschool Tutor:  Some families can afford and do hire professional private tutors for partial or full instruction of their children. Tutors can be a benefit if your child has academic challenges or struggles with certain content, or if you feel less confident with a particular subject area. Some families pool their financial resources with other families (i.e., in their homeschool support groups) to hire tutors for small groups of children. Be careful, though, to research your state’s homeschool laws to ensure that outsourcing is permitted and that you haven’t unknowingly started a private school (which falls under its own laws). AKA “Tutor”

Homeschool Unit Studies:  Unit studies are groups of learning activities that are tied to the same theme and can be used as a whole or partial approach to homeschooling. Families choose to include unit studies in their homeschooling in order to make connections between subjects in a hands-on way, and they are popular for those who are homeschooling more than one child across different grade levels. Using unit studies can allow all children in the household to be learning a particular theme while using materials appropriate for each child’s grade/ability levels. One benefit of using unit studies with multiple children is that theme topics can be discussed and debated, enhancing social learning within the household. AKA “Unit Studies” 

HomeschoolingHomeschooling is the education of a child at home, usually by a parent but sometimes by a tutor or online teacher. Families begin to homeschool for a variety of reasons, and they can follow any number of homeschooling methods. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources to help you learn how to start homeschooling. 

Homeschooling Methods:  There are many different approaches to homeschooling based on philosophies about education (e.g., Charlotte Mason, Classical, Eclectic, Montessori, Unit Studies, Unschooling, Waldorf). The more traditional method, commonly referred to as School-at-Home Homeschooling, brings typical traditional schooling methods into the home. This is a perfectly acceptable method of homeschooling, but if you are interested in homeschooling in a way that differs even more from public/private school, investigate the other homeschooling methods to see if they are right for your family. AKA “Learning Methods” or “Methods”

Homeschooling Portfolio:  A homeschooling portfolio is a collection of your child’s work and academic records. Some state homeschool laws require that portfolios be created and kept. Portfolios document progress and mastery and can be used for readmittance to traditional schooling or admittance into college or other post-secondary paths. Some families create portfolios just to capture homeschooling memories. There are several types of homeschooling portfolios. Your child should have a key role in creating the portfolio, and you and your child can have fun making it! AKA “Portfolio”

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA):  The HSLDA is a Christian organization designed to bring homeschool families together for low-cost legal defense. Do your research to see if you want to become a member, and remember that membership in the HSLDA or a similar organization is not mandatory to homeschool.

Hours of Instruction: Some states require that homeschoolers track the number of hours that a child is engaged in educational activities. Your state or local school district may require a certain number of units for the year, and these units equate to a certain number of academic hours per week. In some states, and sometimes only for certain grade levels (i.e., middle and high school), homeschoolers may need to track academic hours per subject or course. You will want to check with your state’s homeschool laws to determine whether you will need to track hours of instruction in your homeschool. AKA “Academic Hours”

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I | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Inclusive:  Inclusive describes homeschool support groups that do not restrict their membership to certain types of homeschoolers.

Individual Home Instruction Plan (IHIP):  An IHIP is a plan that is sent to a school district outlining subjects to be taught and curriculum/resources that will be used. It is required by some state’s homeschooling laws. For example, in New York, an IHIP must be submitted to the school district following a letter of intent to homeschool and prior to beginning homeschool instruction. 

Individualized Education Program (IEP):  An IEP is a document, similar to an Individual Service Plan (ISP) in traditional schooling, that outlines services provided to students with special needs in private schools or homeschools as well as annual goals for a child. An IEP is essentially a contract between a parent and the public school that is providing those services. If your child with special needs is not receiving services through the local school district, you may decide to create a homeschool version of the IEP, a Student Education Plan (SEP). AKA “Individual Service Plan (ISP)” 

Individual Service Plan (ISP):  An ISP is a document, similar to an Individualized Education Plan/Program (IEP) in traditional schooling, that outlines services provided to students with special needs in private schools or homeschools as well as annual goals for a child. An ISP is essentially a contract between a parent and the public school that is providing those services. If your child with special needs is not receiving services through the local school district, you may decide to create a homeschool version of the ISP, a Student Education Plan (SEP). AKA “Individualized Education Program (IEP)”

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J | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

No homeschooling terms and definitions beginning with J! Let us know in the comments if you are looking for one….

Homeschooling Terms and Definitions from A2Z

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K | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

No homeschooling terms and definitions beginning with K! Let us know in the comments if you are looking for one….

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L | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Lapbook:  A lapbook is a file folder containing a variety of materials about a particular theme or book. It allows your child to learn all about a particular topic and then capture that learning, often in a series of “mini-books.” Once learning about a topic is complete, the mini-books are collected and made into a lapbook. Lapbooking, as the process is called, allows your child to be creative and independent while designing a project that can bring back memories later!

Learning Methods:  There are many different approaches to homeschooling based on philosophies about education (e.g., Charlotte Mason, Classical, Eclectic, Montessori, Unit Studies, Unschooling, Waldorf). The more traditional method, commonly referred to as School-at-Home Homeschooling, brings typical traditional schooling methods into the home. This is a perfectly acceptable method of homeschooling, but if you are interested in homeschooling in a way that differs even more from public/private school, investigate the other homeschooling methods to see if they are right for your family. AKA “Homeschooling Methods” or “Methods”

Learning Styles:  This is a popular term used in the education field to describe the way a person learns. The term is now considered controversial because it tends to put learners into categories (fixed) and is being replaced by more fluid ideas like Multiple Intelligence Theory and learning preferences or profiles. As a homeschooler, learning how your child learns best across a number of factors can help you individualize instruction for your child’s strengths and challenges.

Legal Affidavit:  Some states require that you sign a legal affidavit swearing that you will be providing a home education for your child. If a legal affidavit is a requirement in your state, make sure you follow the guidelines of your state homeschool education laws and that you understand exactly what signing the affidavit means for your homeschool. 

Letter of Intent (LOI):  An LOI is a letter or form that is generally sent to a school district in order to notify administration that you are planning to homeschool your child. Some state homeschooling laws require that you submit an LOI prior to beginning home instruction in order to document your compliance with compulsory attendance requirements and avoid a truancy (school absenteeism) investigation. 

Living Books:  Based on the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling, the term “living books” refers to books that make a subject real and involve your emotions. They are generally written in a narrative style by one person who has a passion for the topic. Living books can be used instead of textbooks for your child’s learning and can focus on many subjects, including geography, science, and math.

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M | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Manipulatives:  In education, manipulatives are any items that can be used to provide hands-on learning to understand concepts. Math is often a subject area where manipulatives are used, but they can be part of learning in other subject areas as well. Examples of manipulatives can include blocks, cubes, rocks, buttons, play money, or even grains of rice, or they can be more sophisticated, like models of the earth or solar system. Manipulatives can be purchased through educational materials suppliers, or you can make your own manipulatives!

Methods:  There are many different approaches to homeschooling based on philosophies about education (e.g., Charlotte Mason, Classical, Eclectic, Montessori, Unit Studies, Unschooling, Waldorf). The more traditional method, commonly referred to as School-at-Home Homeschooling, brings typical traditional schooling methods into the home. This is a perfectly acceptable method of homeschooling, but if you are interested in homeschooling in a way that differs even more from public/private school, investigate the other homeschooling methods to see if they are right for your family. AKA “Homeschooling Methods” 

Montessori Homeschooling:  Montessori is an approach to homeschooling that was developed by Maria Montessori and uses child-directed methods such as discovery and exploration. Although guided by you, the Montessori method allows your child to direct learning at your child’s pace. Learning is typically multi-sensory and based on your child’s curiosity and interests and moves toward individualized learning goals. Montessori is often used with young children but can be applied to students of any age!

Morning Basket Time:  Basket Time is a period of a half an hour to an hour, generally in the morning, when everyone in the family comes together before learning begins in individual subject areas. A basket is filled with books for reading aloud, quiet activities for kids to do during the read alouds, or games that will start the day right. Some families change what is in the basket each month or with the seasons or each term, with some families keeping basket items to a particular theme. Some families also use this time to begin the day with religious or philosophical readings or activities. AKA “Basket Time” or “Circle Time”

Multilevel Curriculum:  A multilevel curriculum allows for either the teaching of multiple children using one curriculum or the individualization of the curriculum for one child. A curriculum may have the flexibility to cover multiple grade/ability levels across subject areas, so you can teach your children at whatever grade levels they are. However, you can also design your instruction so that you meet the individual strengths and challenges of each child by adjusting grade or ability levels by subject area. Time4Learning is one example of an online multilevel curriculum that allows you to move up or down a grade level for each subject.  

Multiple Intelligence Theory:  An approach to learning that is based on Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory stating that we have eight individual intelligences rather than just one: Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence (the ability to use one’s whole body or parts of one’s body to learn, problem-solve, etc.), Interpersonal Intelligence (the ability to interact effectively with other people socially), Intrapersonal Intelligence (the ability to understand one’s own self), Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (the ability to think logically about the relationships among symbols or actions), Musical-Rhythmic Intelligence (the ability to understand the components of music), Naturalistic Intelligence (the ability to understand the world of nature), Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence (the ability to understand language), and Visual-Spatial Intelligence (the ability to visualize objects in space). Understanding your child’s profile of intelligences can help you effectively teach your child in a way that supports your child’s strengths and challenges.

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N | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions 

Narration:  Often associated with the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling, narration is a method of instruction and assessment that asks your child to retell learning in your child’s own words. Narration requires a level of concentration and understanding of the topic that is deeper than other forms of assessment. It also allows your child to add opinions and mental notes while retelling. At the younger grades, narration begins as oral, but it moves to written as your child progresses to the higher grades.

Natural LearningNatural learning is an approach to homeschooling that is based on observations of how children learn naturally, and those observations are then applied to teaching. In a natural learning approach, subjects may be combined so that children can make connections, and thinking skills are taught in each subject rather than as a separate topic. Natural learning systems involve both the minds and hearts of children and are rooted in the philosophies and techniques of Charlotte Mason

Non-secular Homeschool:  A non-secular homeschool is one that weaves religious beliefs throughout homeschool activities. If you have a non-secular homeschool, you may use a faith-based curriculum, and you may have decided to homeschool for religious reasons. AKA “Faith-Based Homeschool”

NotebookingNotebooking is a technique, similar to scrapbooking, that is used by homeschoolers to capture learning in a particular subject area. Notebooking allows your child to be creative while ensuring that memories of the learning are kept for the future. Notebooking is often done using a binder or spiral notebook or even a small scrapbook for each subject. Some notebooking is done on computers. Really, the possibilities are endless!

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O | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions 

Online Curriculum:  An online curriculum is available completely online, so it is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. It is also convenient if you are travelling or want to reduce the clutter in your house. Unlike a boxed curriculum, which includes books and other materials, an online curriculum only requires a computer (or similar device) and access to the Internet. One example of a comprehensive preK-12 online curriculum is Time4Learning

Outsourcing:  You may wonder, Can someone else homeschool my child? Well, depending on your state’s homeschooling laws, you may be able to outsource some of your homeschooling instructional needs to professional tutors or teachers, online schools or online course providers, or even other parents or family members. Outsourcing allows you to gain some time to yourself while providing your child with opportunities to socialize with others and learn (potentially) from someone with more expertise than you have in a particular subject area. It may benefit your family if you are also working from home while you homeschool. Outsourcing, however, may have a price, so do your research to see whether it is the right choice for your family.

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P | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Parent Education Level:  Some states require that a parent who homeschools has reached a certain level of education (i.e., a certain degree level or certification). Check your state’s homeschool education laws to see if your state has such a requirement and whether you or another adult who is instructing your child meets that required level. If no eligible adult meets the parent education level required, there may also be options to begin homeschooling with a certain level of supervision. Again, check your state’s homeschool education laws to determine whether such an option exists.

Pods:  Learning pods are groups of children (between 3 and 10) who meet regularly in person to learn. Instruction is led by member parents or hired teachers or tutors, and some learning pods follow a set curriculum. Learning pods became popular during the Coronavirus pandemic as an alternative to traditional school or to supplement content while doing school-at-home or while homeschooling.

Homeschooling Terms and Definitions from A2Z

 

PortfolioA homeschooling portfolio is a collection of your child’s work and academic records. Some state homeschool laws require that portfolios be created and kept. Portfolios document progress and mastery and can be used for readmittance to traditional schooling or admittance into college or other post secondary paths. Some families create portfolios just to capture homeschooling memories. There are several types of homeschooling portfolios. Your child should have a key role in creating the portfolio, and you and your child can have fun making it! AKA “Homeschooling Portfolio”

Progress Report:  A progress report is a written quarterly or annual report documenting a child’s progress. It may include topics completed, curriculum sources, and annual goals, as well as grades and other assessment measures. Some state homeschooling laws require homeschoolers to submit progress reports to their local school districts on a periodic or yearly basis.

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Q | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

No homeschooling terms and definitions beginning with Q! Let us know in the comments if you are looking for one….

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R | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Relaxed Homeschooling:  According to Dr. Mary Hood, who defined the term, relaxed homeschooling is based on the tenets that a family is not a school, parents are not principals and teachers, and your relationship is with your children rather than a classroom. Learning targets parent and child academic and spiritual goals, as well as the personalities and interests of the children. Relaxed homeschooling captures all learning, not just what is on scope and sequence charts that compare your child to those of the same age or grade level.

Roadschooling:  Roadschooling is a type of traveling homeschooling that is accomplished while traveling within the “Road School.” For example, a family could do roadschooling while visiting each of the 50 states by car or RV. The homeschooling curriculum then incorporates the landmarks, attractions, geographical features, etc., of what the family experiences. Roadschoolers establish a “home state” and then follow the state’s homeschooling laws for that state.

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S | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Satellite School:  A satellite school is an organization that supports member homeschool families with legal requirements, recordkeeping, and even hosting educational events. Some provide guidance on instruction (many from certified teachers), and some maintain records and issue such documents as reports cards and student ID cards. Satellite schools are all different, and some states require affiliation with such schools for at least certain kinds of homeschoolers. Be sure to check your state’s homeschool laws to find out whether your homeschool needs to be connected with a cover school. AKA “Cover School” or “Umbrella School” 

School-at-Home (COVID-19):  School-at-Home is what many parents found themselves doing because of restrictions and school closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic. They received materials and guidance from their local schools (to varying degrees) and helped their children complete and submit the work. However, this School-at-Home experience is different than Traditional or School-at-Home Homeschooling because of the public/private schools’ role in the education of your children. 

School-at-Home Homeschooling:  Many new homeschoolers choose what is called School-at-Home, or Traditional Homeschooling, because it is what they know. Their children may more easily transition from public/private school, and there is an automatic structure and confidence that comes with following this method. Parents generally recreate typical school subjects within typical school periods within typical school schedules. Curriculum and instructional activities look very much like what you would see in a traditional classroom, as well as assessment methods like quizzes and tests. Sometimes School-at-Home homeschoolers will even decorate a room with desks and posters to mimic a traditional school classroom. Gradually, some School-at-Home homeschoolers will move to other homeschooling methods while some remain with this comfortable style of homeschooling and make it effective for their families. AKA “Traditional Homeschooling” 

Scope and Sequence:  A scope and sequence is a listing of all the topics that will be taught (scope) and their order (sequence) within a particular curriculum or textbook. It includes all the concepts, skills, and strategies by subject area or chapter, so you can determine whether a curriculum or textbook is appropriate for the goals and levels of your child’s learning. A scope and sequence can also help you to determine whether a curriculum or textbook will cover all that you want to cover or if you need to add supplemental resources

Secular Homeschool:  A secular homeschool is one that—regardless of whether the family participates in religious activities—was not formed for religious reasons and does not focus on religious instruction and activities. If you choose to have a secular homeschool, you will want to use a secular homeschool curriculum, one that does not include faith-based materials other than historical overviews of various religions and philosophies. You will want to research curriculums before purchasing so that you do not inadvertently end up with faith-based materials that you discover months later during lessons.

Sequential Learning:  Sequential learning is an approach to learning that is very systematic, addressing logical steps in a linear, orderly progression. In other words, one part of a task is learned before the next logical part of the task. Sequential learning is in line with typical human behavior, and so much of our learning is in this fashion. For example, you most likely learned to crawl, then walk, then run. Math, especially, is an area where you may be using sequential learning to help your child meet learning goals. As a homeschooler, you may choose to organize your curriculum for sequential learning for other subjects as well.

SocializationSocialization is both the activity of being with others and the process of learning to behave while interacting with others. Many people who do not homeschool believe that children who are homeschooled lack socialization. Those of us who do homeschool realize that this is simply not true. In addition to the obvious socialization within the family, homeschooling itself opens opportunities to connect with other families through homeschool support groups; homeschool field trips and Homeschool Days; and homeschool programs at local gyms, museums, and other organizations. Further, homeschooled children have the same opportunities to socialize after school and on weekends as other children in traditional schooling. 

Spiral Learning:  Spiral learning is an approach to learning that returns to topics again and again, each time going a little deeper with the learning. For example, you may teach your child the basics of a concept the first time around and then spiral back to it to add details that build on the learning from the first round. Spiral learning was developed by Jerome Bruner, a cognitive theorist, and is based on the idea that children, and adults for that matter, benefit from reinforcing information through repetition and the stepwise use of prior learning.

Standardized Testing:  Some states require that homeschoolers submit an annual assessment demonstrating performance in comparison to peers. Standardized testing is testing that requires uniform administration of the same test (or similar questions taken from the same test bank) and is scored in a consistent way so that a student’s performance can be compared to the performance of peers. In some states, standardized testing is required each year for homeschoolers, and some states do require some standardized testing but not every year. Some states also provide alternatives like portfolios or narratives. Check your state’s homeschool laws to find out whether and what type of testing is required for homeschoolers in your state. AKA “Annual Assessment” 

Student Education Plan (SEP):  An SEP is essentially a homeschool version of an Individualized Education Plan/Program (IEP) or an Individual Student Plan (ISP). An SEP is a plan for how you, as the homeschool parent, will meet the special needs of your child. Even if you are already individualizing your child’s instruction and assessment, you may want to create an SEP in order to plan and document the efforts you are making to meet your child’s special needs, set measurable annual goals on which to base your instruction and assessment, and/or to create documentation when requesting accommodations at the postsecondary level.

Subject Area Requirements:  Some states require that certain subject areas be taught at certain grade levels. Some states are very specific, like New York, while others give you a range of grade levels in which to cover subjects. Others provide recommendations that are suggested but not required while still others provide no subject area guidance at all. Find out about any subject area requirements by researching your state’s homeschool laws before you begin homeschooling. 

Supplemental Resources:  Supplemental resources are any instructional materials that are not part of the regular curriculum and are not necessarily required. They are used to deepen learning or make up for gaps in learning, or they can be used to provide your child with materials that will foster interests and/or provide learning enjoyment. These may include resources like additional courses, lessons and activities, or projects and games. Check out the Explore Pages on this site for free online supplemental resources for your child.

Support Group:  When you homeschool, you can really benefit from making connections with other people who are homeschooling, especially those in the same state (who have to abide by the same state homeschooling laws). There are different kinds of homeschooling networks you can join from state and regional homeschool associations to local homeschool support groups and cooperatives. Some will meet weekly and have you involved in leading classes or events while others will hold infrequent social or educational opportunities or annual conferences. You can also find purely online networks. Do your research first to find out whether there are membership requirements (i.e., secular or faith-based) and how much of a commitment you need to make in order to join. AKA “Homeschool Support Group”

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T | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Teacherese:  Every field has its own terminology and meanings. Teacherese, or educationese, is the name given to the jargon that educators and teachers of educators use in the field. As a homeschooler, knowing some of these terms is useful as you plan instruction and learn how to best educate your child. AKA “Educationese” 

Textbook:  Textbooks are associated with the Traditional, or School-at-Home, method of homeschooling. A textbook is a book that contains comprehensive coverage of a subject area and is designed to be used in typical classrooms. As a homeschooler, you may find that you want to use textbooks for one or more subject areas to be sure that you cover all that is required for a particular grade level. Many are now published digitally in addition to their more typical print versions. 

Traditional Homeschooling:  Many new homeschoolers choose what is called Traditional, or School-at-Home Homeschooling, because it is what they know. Their children may more easily transition from public/private school, and there is an automatic structure and confidence that comes with following this method. Parents generally recreate typical school subjects within typical school periods within typical school schedules. Curriculum and instructional activities look very much like what you would see in a traditional classroom, as well as assessment methods like quizzes and tests. Sometimes Traditional Homeschoolers will even decorate a room with desks and posters to mimic a traditional school classroom. Gradually, some Traditional homeschoolers will move to other homeschooling methods while some remain with this comfortable style of homeschooling and make it effective for their families. AKA “School-At-Home Homeschooling” 

Traditional Schooling:  Traditional Schooling is used by homeschoolers to refer to the more typical types of schooling, like public school or private school. The term is often used when comparing modes of education or when describing the years of education prior to a family’s decision to do homeschooling. For homeschoolers coming from traditional schooling, a period of deschooling is often necessary to transition effectively.

Tutor:  Some families can afford and do hire professional private tutors for partial or full instruction of their children. Tutors can be a benefit if your child has academic challenges or struggles with certain content, or if you feel less confident with a particular subject area. Some families pool their financial resources with other families (i.e., in their homeschool support groups) to hire tutors for small groups of children. Be careful, though, to research your state’s homeschool laws to ensure that outsourcing is permitted and that you haven’t unknowingly started a private school (which falls under its own laws). AKA “Homeschool Tutor”

Tutorial:  A tutorial can refer to an intense and targeted teaching about a particular subject (i.e., an online tutorial about academic integrity), but in the homeschooling world, it can also mean an organized group that hires one or more tutors to provide instruction. Tutorials may be based on a structured curriculum with follow-up activities that are to be done at home, or tutorials can be organized to provided enrichment activities. In many cases, tutorials provide parents with the opportunity to drop off their children and get some time for themselves while their children are still learning. Tutorials may be particularly beneficial for parents who have young children at home or parents who work full time while homeschooling.

Twaddle:  This is a term used by Charlotte Mason to refer to children’s books that are abridged, predictable, or diluted and should not be used in homeschooling.

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U | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Umbrella School:  An umbrella school is an organization that supports member homeschool families with legal requirements, recordkeeping, and even hosting educational events. Some provide guidance on instruction (many from certified teachers), and some maintain records and issue such documents as reports cards and student ID cards. Umbrella schools are all different, and some states require affiliation with such schools for at least certain kinds of homeschoolers. Be sure to check your state’s homeschool laws to find out whether your homeschool needs to be connected with a cover school. AKA “Cover School” or “Satellite School”

Homeschooling Terms and Definitions from A2Z

Unschooling:  Unschooling is an approach to homeschooling that does not use academic subjects as the basis for instruction. Instead, Unschooling uses student interests and motivations to guide learning, with a focus on doing real activities all day long in a trusting and supportive environment. Homeschool activities can include everything from play and household tasks to books and elective classes to internships and travel. Unschooling does not follow standard curriculums, traditional forms of assessment, and other features of typical public/private school education. 

Unit Studies:  Unit studies are groups of learning activities that are tied to the same theme and can be used as a whole or partial approach to homeschooling. Families choose to include unit studies in their homeschooling in order to make connections between subjects in a hands-on way, and they are popular for those who are homeschooling more than one child across different grade levels. Using unit studies can allow all children in the household to be learning a particular theme while using materials appropriate for each child’s grade/ability levels. One benefit of using unit studies with multiple children is that theme topics can be discussed and debated, enhancing social learning within the household. AKA “Homeschool Unit Studies”

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V | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

VARK Model of Learning:  VARK is an approach to learning based on the work of Neil D. Fleming and Coleen E. Mills (1992) that considers four learning modalities preferred by students—visual (e.g., pictures, diagrams, charts, graphs); auditory/aural (e.g., explanations, discussions, podcasts); reading/writing (e.g., books, handouts, bulleted lists), and kinesthetic (e.g., hands-on, case studies, field trips). Some homeschoolers determine the VARK profiles of their children in order to plan instruction and assessment that best fits their children’s learning preferences.

Virtual School:  A virtual school, or cyber school, is a form of distance learning that enables students to take all or most of their coursework online. Virtual teachers instruct and grade assignments that are submitted online. Cyber schools can be run by state education departments or by public schools or charter schools, in which case enrollment may be free. AKA “Cyber School”

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W | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions 

Waldorf Homeschooling:  Waldorf is an approach to homeschooling that was popularized by Rudolf Steiner in the late 19th-early 20th centuries and which focuses on age-appropriate learning through three developmental periods: early childhood (birth to age 7), middle childhood (7 to 14), and adolescence (14 to 21). The Waldorf approach does not separate learning into traditional subjects, nor does it include competitive testing and rewards. Rather, it stresses the experience of academics and the arts and building intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual capacities.

Worldschooling:  Worldschooling is a type of traveling homeschooling where the “World School” is essentially the classroom. As a worldschooler, the education your children receive includes learning about societies and cultures, languages, climates, geographies, and histories. Some worldschoolers focus more on academics while others do not. Some put their children in school as they travel, immersing them in the language and culture. Worldschooling differs from family to family and can be a lifestyle choice or simply something you do for a short time.

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X | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

No homeschooling terms and definitions beginning with X! Let us know in the comments if you are looking for one….

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Y | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

Year-Round Homeschooling:  Year-round homeschooling is an option for any homeschooling family. It allows homeschool families to spread the required 180 days of instruction over the entire year, which can reduce the daily workload and provide for more frequent, shorter breaks. The result is the elimination of “summer slide” and other learning regression due to longer breaks and can have the effect of producing lifelong learners that see learning as not just something that occurs during the “school year.”

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Z | Homeschooling Terms and Definitions

No homeschooling terms and definitions beginning with Z! Let us know in the comments if you are looking for one….

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Have you come across another homeschooling term that should be included here or a great resource about one of these terms? Please share it with other homeschoolers below in the comments….

 

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