Homeschooling Defined

Homeschooling Defined

Homeschool:  (noun) an educational environment that consists of a parent (or other legal guardian such as a grandparent) who teaches one or more students in the home; (transitive or intransitive verb) to teach or be taught at home

Other forms of the word:

Homeschools, homeschooled, homeschooling, homeschooler


–          In our state, we must recertify our homeschool each year.

–          My mom homeschools my brothers and me.

–          We are homeschooled, but we learn a lot outside our home!

–          Look at those polite children.  Perhaps they are homeschoolers.


Example of misuse of word:

–          Homeschool tutor abuses teenage boy.

This is taken from a headline of a major news story in 2007.  The “homeschool tutor” was a mother whose children were in public school.  She was tutoring a homeschool teenager.  Since she was not homeschooling her own children or being homeschooled herself, she could not be referred to as a “homeschool tutor.”  The headline should have read:

–          Tutor abuses homeschooled teenage boy.

It’s important to make sure that adjectives are in the correct place and if you’re not sure if it’s proper usage, ask.  I can help you avoid errors and possible lawsuits over inaccurate terminology.  Just e-mail.

Home School:  This is simply another form of the more commonly used “homeschool” variation.  The two word phrase was more popular until recent years, when the compound word became more widely accepted and preferred among families who homeschool.

Home Education:  (noun) refers to education that takes place in the home, typically referring to the parent as a teacher and the child as student; normally used interchangeably with “homeschool”


–          The homeschool environment is the same as a home education environment, although there are many different methods you can use to teach a child at home.

Homebound:  This refers to students who, for whatever reason, are receiving their lessons at home, normally from regular school teachers or tutors who specialize in homebound services.  These students are NOT to be considered homeschoolers since the definition of a homeschooler is one of a student who is taught by his or her parents in the home. 


–          Since my daughter has been on homebound studies, her science teacher comes by twice each week and brings her assignments.  If she has questions about her studies, I try to help her.

Truant:  refers to a student who stays out of school without permission

Now here is where I’d like to make a specific distinction between students who are homeschooling and students who are simply not going to school.  Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, but there are varying degrees of regulation.  In other words, the requirements for families vary.  In all cases, however, whether a family “unschools” (student-led, informal homeschooling) or follows a traditional school model with strict scheduling, learning is taking place in the home. 

When a parent decides that it’s simply too much trouble to wake up their teenager and argue with them about getting on the bus or when the parent doesn’t like the teachers and decides to keep her elementary age son at home, but there is no education taking place, then that child is truant.  There are many situations that contribute to truancy and many times the parents participate in the child’s absence from school, but this is not homeschooling.   

If a parent does not follow the laws of homeschooling in his or her state and register the child, if required by law, or spend any time teaching the child or at least providing the child with educational materials, then that’s truancy.

If you have any questions about the correct usage of homeschool terminology, please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail at .  As a homeschool advocate, I am happy to answer any questions and work toward a better understanding of issues related to home education. 

Sonya Haskins


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