The Many Faces of Homeschooling

What is homeschooling? The basic definition is the education of a child within the home. But for families who do homeschool, the answer can be much more complex.

There is an old generalization that homeschooled children are isolated from the public, live in very restrictive households, and are completely controlled by their parents. That generalization is slowly, and with a great deal of effort, being changed by families that do choose to educate their children at home.

Homeschooling is a method of educating a child that generally does not include a traditional brick and mortar school, whether that school is a secular public school, an expensive exclusive private school, or a faith-based church school. Homeschooled children are usually educated by the parents in their own home. Homeschooling is not limited to the home, however.

Many homeschooling families comment that they are not sure why it is called “home” school, because they do not spend the majority of their time at home. Because of the flexibility of homeschooling many families educate their children in the car, at museums, on field trips, and on the internet, which means anywhere they can get an internet connection is where school occurs.

The deciding factor of what homeschooling is lies with each family. The primary goal is that education of the children is based on the choices of the parents rather than on the choices of a school board.

For some families, homeschooling means “school at home”. Children are taught with materials similar to those found in traditional schools. Some children who “school at home” really differ from their traditional school counterparts only in that the tables are at their house instead of the school down the street. But this is only one way that homeschooling can be defined.

It is common to consider children who work, for example child actors, as homeschoolers. They often have a private tutor who is responsible for traveling with the child, and providing lessons that are scheduled around their work and travel schedules. It is far more convenient for the school to come to these children than it is for these children to go to a traditional school.

Children who have outstanding athletic abilities often fall into the homeschool ranks. For them, just as the child actors, it is more convenient to bring the school to them, than it is to rearrange training schedules and practices.

Those are just two examples of education that answer the question of “What is homeschool?” The common thread is that school is brought to the student, instead of the student being brought to the school.

It is difficult to describe what homeschool is, exactly, because it looks different in different situations. The child actor and the child athlete participate in homeschool. So would the child of missionaries in some remote jungle, or the young sailor engaging in an around the world sailing adventure. While these seem like exotic examples of what homeschooling is, there are many more common examples of what homeschooling is and what it looks like.

Those examples can be anything from strict, classical education, administered in the home, by parents, to unschooling. Unschooling is actually a form of homeschooling in which the direction of the education is selected by the student, based on their own interests, gifts, and decisions. While unschooling sounds as if no education is being accomplished, it is becoming a recognized, though not always accepted, form of homeschooling.

The general thread that ties homeschoolers together, and may actually answer the question of what homeschooling is may be that homeschooling is a form of education in which the students are generally taught at a place of the parents choosing, with curriculum that is based on the parents choices, is accomplished at a time of the parents choosing. Homeschooling is about choices, flexibility, and independence from educational systems that might not align with parental requirements, or student’s needs.

In closing, what homeschool is can be difficult to define, except to say what homeschooling is not. It is not the same as traditional education models. It is an alternative to brick and mortar schools; it does not look the same in every house, or even for every child within that house. Homeschooling is individual, tailored, and unique for each participant, whether that participant is the teacher or the student. Each family will have their own style of homeschooling, and so each family will create a different definition as to what homeschooling is for them.