Homeschool vocabulary
a primer for beginners

When you are new to homeschooling it is helpful to understand the new language, here is a guide to quickly give you the meaning….With acknowledgement to Time4Learning.com compilation in their ebook, Welcome to Homeschooling – A guide for families

This list is not comprehensive, a more complete list can be found in

Homeschooling Guide on How to start Home Education


“Boxed Curriculum” – There are many programs for purchase that provide homeschool families with a comprehensive scope and sequence, textbooks, assessments, projects, and timelines that are grade leveled. These programs are prescribed and could be quite costly. However, they are helpful to a new homeschool family who would like guidance. However, what may work for one child may not work for another so a prescribed curriculum may not be the best route.

Curriculum – The materials used for a course, which can include a text-book, a teacher and grading guide, lesson plans, tests, and worksheets. In an online curriculum, some of these elements can be integrated and automated.

Deschooling - Deschooling refers to the period of time, also called decompression, when a student (and family) adjusts after leaving a traditional school setting. This period can range from a few weeks to an entire year, depending upon the student’s needs.

Eclectic Approach – A method of teaching that does not rely on any one approach but rather culls the best from multiple approaches.

Homeschool Support Group – (Also known as a Homeschool Group) A group of homeschoolers who interact on a regular basis for the purpose of networking, sharing resources, and energy, providing opportunities for socialization and co-teaching. Some support groups are virtual (i.e., internet-based), but the majority have physical locations and meetings.

Portfolio – A portfolio is an accumulation of materials that demonstrate your child’s learning. Some items included are: logs (reading, attendance), assignments (samples from each subject demonstrated throughout the year), awards, certificates of participation, list of materials used (textbooks, websites, computer programs, resource books etc), pictures of projects, and fieldtrips, writing samples (composition and penmanship), and other items that you feel represent your child’s education. Portfolios can be online, in file boxes, in 3-ring binders (the most common), or otherwise.

School at Home – A common beginning method of homeschooling in which a family attempts to simply recreate a conventional classroom education within their home. Many times this includes a boxed curriculum and a rigid daily schedule.

Socialization (The “S” Word) – Many homeschoolers are criticized as not providing appropriate socialization, meaning the interaction found in a traditional school. In fact, as homeschoolers point out, traditional school’s artificial grouping by age, grade, and ability-level, is a dysfunctional and unrealistic situation compared to the socialization of children within a family and more natural social groupings.

Textbooks – Textbooks are just one part of a package of resource materials that includes: a scope and sequence, an educators’ manual with teaching strategies, a student book with content explanations and examples, and a practice workbook. These packages usually offer a re-teach (remediation) workbook or an enrichment workbook that focuses on higher level critical thinking skills.

Unschooling – Also known as student-led education or interest-led learning, this is a teaching method in which students study those topics that interest them, rather than follow a pre-defined curriculum.

Unit Study – A cross-curricular educational approach in which learning is focused around a central, common theme. For instance, a unit study on trains would teach the development and use of early trains (history), train routes (geography), different engine types (science), train-based literature (language arts), and so on. Unit studies allow children of different ages to study the same unit together but in different levels of detail.


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