What is homeschooling?

Home education. Homeschooling. Unschooling. Deschooling.

What is it?

Let’s start with what is isn’t.

It isn’t truancy. Truancy is defined as “non-attendance,” as “absenteeism.” Children who don’t show up for classes in which they are enrolled are truant.

It isn’t “home-bound education.” School-enrolled children afflicted with illness or injury given lessons and schoolwork at home by school-assigned teachers are on home-bound education. The school oversees the child’s education, issues grades, and, even if the student never returns to school, issues a diploma.

It isn’t enrolling in a “virtual charter” or other type of distance education that’s run by a public school district. That’s just “public school at home.” (This doesn’t exist in New Jersey. Home educators in other states are gnashing their teeth over the hijacking of the term “homeschool” by these public school programs.)

It isn’t hiring a tutor to run a one-family school in your home. Tutoring is a valid option, one with an old and respectable history, but it’s not much different than enrolling in a private or parochial school; parental control ends with the writing of the checks.

So…what is it?

Home education is a family-centered way of learning, in which a child’s education is overseen by the parents. Simple, no?

Oh. You wanted details.

The truth is, home education is a generic term for the myriad types of learning available to children whose parents have chosen to take charge of their education, rather than leaving it to “the professionals.” It’s as easy and as difficult to define as “home cooking.” It’s a lot easier to point out what it isn’t!

Many families, especially those with younger children, learn together. Despite the dire warnings of “the experts,” parents certainly are capable of overseeing their child’s learning. More importantly, parents have a vested interest in seeing that the lessons fit the child, rather than the other way around, as in institutional education centers (“schools”), where education is “one-size-fits-all.”

Myth #4 “You Need Teacher Training, Dearie” by Linda Dobson

Dear New Homeschooler by Mary McCarthy, co-founder of NJHA

Homeschooling Questions by Home Education Magazine

By the time they reach their teens, kids who’ve been educated at home are capable of fending for themselves. They may spend a few hours on the academics they need for college or career choices, and spend the rest of their day pursuing their hearts’ interests. Some take on internships or apprenticeships, some take college courses either via distance learning or at their local county college. Most are involved in some form of community service.

Older Kids – Decompression – FAQ by Cafi Cohen

Teens and Older Kids articles from A to Z Home’s Cool

Colleges that Accept Homeschoolers the ever-growing list compiled by Karl Bunday

Parents aren’t required to “learn it all, then teach it all,” as some critics charge. As more and more families choose home education, more options open up. These include:

Tutoring: Yes, we know, we said tutoring isn’t homeschooling. But there’s a wide gulf between giving over responsibility to a tutor and hiring a tutor to fill in a specific need. When your child groans, “I need to learn this calculus to get into that college program, and I finished the book and I just don’t get it,” the math-phobic parent is taking–not giving up–responsibility by hiring a calculus tutor.

Learning Centers: Resource and support centers, sometimes adjuncts to child care centers. Classes, materials, equipment, and space are offered on a “pick and choose” basis comparable to libraries.

Co-op classes: Parents take turns teaching classes of various length, breadth, and depth. These are usually run by support groups.

Cooperative Homeschooling An essay from Maybe We Would Be Amazed.

Our list of some New Jersey homeschool co-ops

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