finding the resources you need to be successful


Accidental Homeschooler

A term coined by Time4Learning to describe parents who decide to homeschool "by accident." Their children attended traditional schools, but for one reason or another (due to environment, curriculum, or unacceptable socialization, and/or difficulties with teachers, etc.) — it didn't work. They begin homeschooling as a last resort.


Refers to supplementing a child's learning after school. In other words, after a child attends regular public or private school all day, they engage in additional educational classes or activities supervised by their parents, tutors, or others.

Auditory Learner

Refers to a person who learns best by listening and discussing.


A term used to describe a person who is self-taught.

Biblical Worldview

Also known as a Biblical Perspective and a Christian Worldview. A person's worldview is how they view truth. So, to add the word 'Biblical' in front of it, just means they view life and the world through the perspective of the Bible and take it for what it says. An example would be that they believe in a literal 24 hour day/6 day creation. Therefore, the idea of the Gap-Theory would not hold any weight. Curriculum choices would support those fundamental beliefs.

Boxed Curriculum

Also known as School-In-A-Box — Refers to a complete package of curriculum that includes study materials for all subjects for any given grade level. Most of these products offer traditional, scope-and-sequence courses of study that meet national curriculum standards. They usually include textbooks, workbooks, tests, activity suggestions, and suggested resources for further learning. Includes a teacher's manual that provides day-by-day instructions on how to teach the lessons and structure the assignments.


A term used to describe a parent or child who has become exhausted from the process of homeschooling.


A term coined by Diane Flynn Keith to describe learning while riding in the car. Keith's book, Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities To Turn Travel Time Into Learning Time is published by Random House and includes suggestions for learning every subject required by national curriculum standards while in the car, on the road — whether you're running a 5-minute errand or taking a 500 mile road trip.

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason was a 19th century educator who believed that education should be based on great literature and the arts. She believed in a leisurely, self-directed style of education based on observation and reflection, often through discussion and journaling. Charlotte Mason education is based on a lifelong quest for knowledge and skills.

Charter Schools

Charter schools are a new breed of public schools that offer more flexibility for teachers and students. Some charter schools offer "home study programs" and students enrolled in these programs are considered to be public school students. Rules and regulations governing charter schools vary by state. Typically, if you enroll in a charter school home study program, you are assigned a facilitator/teacher/education specialist who works with you to establish a course of study for your child. The facilitator meets with you once-a-month to discuss progress and collect attendance sheets and samples of the students work. Individual Charter school programs may provide educational credits to be used toward the purchase of consumable educational curricula (workbooks, textbooks, science kits, etc.) from a list of approved vendors. In some cases, educational credits may be applied toward music, art, P.E., science lessons, etc. Many of these programs require standardized testing, and return of textbooks and other materials at the end of the school year. The resources, structure, and flexibility of these programs vary widely. It will be helpful in selecting such a program to talk to other parents whose children are enrolled. In lieu of that, find a local homeschool support group or online discussion group, and ask the members for their opinion of the program.

Classical Education

This method has a number of interpretations but focus is on a rigorous academic curriculum of reading, writing, math, classic languages such as Latin & Greek, logical thinking and debate. The structured learning employed with this method ideally results in mastery of the basics of rudimentary subjects that are emphasized in the elementary years, progressing to the development and use of critical thinking skills in the upper grades.

Compulsory Attendance

Refers to the fact that in most states children from ages 6-17 are required to attend public schools, under penalty of law, unless they fall under certain exemptions — such as attending private school or homeschool.


Refers to homeschool seminars sponsored by homeschool organizations that include keynote addresses, workshops, family activities, and vendor halls where parents can purchase curriculum materials. These conferences usually take place over 2-4 days.


This technique is used to help students learn to write — from the initial skill of forming alphabet letters, all the way through learning to write sentences, paragraphs, poetry and more. Once students have the ability to copy sentences and paragraphs, they usually copy excerpts from good/classic literature. The idea is that by copying, they learn the techniques of great writers that they can then apply to their own original writing.

Cooperative (Co-Op)

A collective group of homeschoolers working together for a common purpose. All members of the co-op must contribute in some way toward the end goal; usually this contribution is in the form of effort, not money.

Correspondence Courses and Schools

There are correspondence schools and programs that offer everything from single classes to full courses of study for every subject in every grade level from Pre-K through 12. Subjects are taught through a variety of mediums including textbooks, software, online classes, tele-classes, videos, audio CDs and more.

Course of Study

Refers to an outline of academic subjects to be covered by grade level such as: English, Math, Social Sciences, Science, Visual & Performing Arts, Health, Physical Education, etc. Each subject may be broken down into topics and subtopics with references to the educational textbooks, workbooks, and other materials and resources that will be used for study. See World Book Encyclopedia's Typical Course of Study for PreK-12.

Cover School (or Umbrella School)

Refers to a private school that provides a legal way for parents to homeschool their children. Parents who enroll their children in an umbrella school usually take responsibility for their child's education by developing a course of study, providing curriculum, instruction, and complying with all of the education requirements. The Umbrella School complies with the legal requirements of the state including filing annual forms (if needed), keeping attendance, maintaining student records, etc. Some of these schools have additional requirements including testing. Some also offer counseling and coaching along with field trips, co-op classes, and enrichment programs such as sports, music, drama, and other electives.


Refers to the materials used to teach/learn a single subject or all subjects for any given grade level. May include textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, tests, CD ROMs, CDs, video, DVD, software, computer-based lessons/materials, activities, field trips, and more.

Curriculum Map

A Curriculum Map (or a concept map) clarifies how different subjects and levels of education relate in terms of sequence and dependency. For instance, it would highlight that to teach "two-digit addition with carrying over" in one grade, the child must have previously mastered place values, addition, and single digit math facts.

Cyber Schools

Online schools that use computer-based electronic medium for delivering a lesson or course of study.


Deschooling refers to the period of time, also called decompression, when 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.

Refers to the period of adjustment needed after withdrawing a child from public or private school. The rule of thumb is that for every year your child spent in school, you should allow one month of doing nothing academic or schoolish (and double the time if your child went to preschool). The reason is that the child needs to recover from the programming of school and discover that he/she can direct his/her own learning. This process takes time, and it varies by individual student. Parents, especially, have a hard time allowing for this deschooling or detox time. Instead of filling your child's days with curriculum, simply expose them to the bounty of life. Read, go on field trips, visit museums, etc. You can learn together — but avoid structured academic time. Allowing time for your student to recover from schooling, will promote a more successful transition to self-directed learning through homeschooling.


This is done when the child can write with proficiency and the parent or teacher reads a sentence or group of sentences to the child in order for them to copy it down.

Distance Learning

See "Correspondence Courses and Schools."


Department of Education

E-book (or Ebook)

Refers to a book that is in a digital format so that it can be downloaded onto your computer to read or print out. Many unit studies are sold in e-book format.

Eclectic Method of Homeschooling

Parents and students use a variety of resources to learn based on interests, needs, and abilities. They may use textbooks for math, and travel or go on field trips to cover social sciences. They may hire a tutor for foreign languages, and take a correspondence course for language arts, etc. Eclectic homeschoolers are generally quite flexible in their approach to home education combining all kinds of materials and resources. They use what works -- and leave the rest behind.


A term used to describe support groups that require a religious declaration of faith or other criteria for membership.

Gatto, John Taylor

Mr. Gatto taught in New York city schools for 30 years, and is a 1992 recipient of the New York State Teacher of the Year award. He is an advocate for education reform, supports homeschooling, and is the author of many books and articles education.


"Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for gps users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a GPS unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache."

Holt, John

Holt was a teacher turned education reformer who coined the word "unschooling" and helped pioneer the modern homeschool and unschool movement. He founded the Growing Without Schooling organization, published Growing Without Schooling magazine, and authored a number of books including the homeschool classic Teach Your Own.

Home Based Learning

A term used to describe home education that is most often used in Australia and Canada.

Homeschool (also called Homeschooling)

An alternative method of education in which parents help their children learn at home rather than sending them to public or private school. There are many different methods or styles. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. It is estimated that there are about 2.5 million homeschoolers in the U.S. with a projected increase of 7-15% per year. It is the fastest growing educational alternative in the U.S.

Homeschool Buyer's Co-Op

The nation's largest purchasing cooperative for homeschooling families. Membership is free and enables homeschool families to purchase curriculum and educational materials at significant discounts.


Home School Legal Defense Association — A nonprofit, conservative, Christian fundamentalist, homeschool advocacy organization "established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms."

IEP - Individual Educational Plan

IEPs are used by public schools to address the special needs of students with learning disabilities.


This term is usually used to distinguish a homeschool support group, organization, conference, or publication that welcomes and addresses the needs of all homeschooling families regardless of religious beliefs, educational philosophy, or homeschooling style or method.

Independent Study Program (ISP)

This term is used in two ways:

  • It can refer to a public school program created to address the learning needs of students who cannot attend classes regularly due to illness, competitive sports training (i.e. gymnastics), or who are in the entertainment business.
  • It can refer to a home study program offered through the local school district to families who want to homeschool. In these programs, parents work with a designated teacher to develop a course of study and implement it at home. Then, the parent meets with the teacher on a monthly basis to turn in the students work, get resources, take tests, etc. Programs vary widely in terms of flexibility, supervision, resources, accountability, etc.


Refers to the scope of grades covered from Kindergarten through 12th Grade (or Senior Year of High School) by public and private schools.

Kinesthetic Learner

A student who learns best by doing is a kinesthetic learner. A kinesthetic learner processes information best through a “hands-on” experience. Actually doing an activity can be the easiest way for them to learn; experiments or acting out a play. They enjoy physical movement and hands-on activities.

Lap Book™ (or Lapbooking)

This is a method of recording and tracking learning about a particular subject through the use of "foldables" which are then mounted and stored on file folders that have been refolded from a bi-fold form into a tri-fold form for better presentation.

Learning Methods

Learning methods focus on the way a person best takes in and processes information. There are many theories that look at the way a person learns best including the Theory of Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences.

Learning Style

Refers to the many different methods or styles that various individuals use to process information in order to learn. Traditionally, learning styles were thought to fall into three distinct categories: auditory, kinesthetic, and visual. In other words, some people learn best by listening or talking, some by moving or doing, and others by seeing or watching. However, further research indicates there are a variety of learning styles in any number of combinations. It is thought that if you can assess a student's best learning style, then you can custom-tailor the teaching methods and materials to it, making learning interesting and relatively effortless for the student.

Math Manipulatives

Math manipulatives refers to hands-on educational tools that help students build concrete models of abstract math concepts so they can better understand them. Manipulatives include pattern blocks, cuisenaire rods, color tiles, geoboards, dice,tangrams, counters, spinners, and more. Manipulatives help students connect math terminology and symbols to practical application. With manipulatives students can test their theories and reasoning to solve math problems. They make learning math more tangible and fun. You can make your own math manipulatives out of items you find around the house (like pennies, pebbles, or dried beans) or you can purchase them from educational suppliers.

Montessori Education

Based on the life's work of Dr. Maria Montessori, the Montessori method has a broad vision of education and follows the natural development of the individual child and their innate directive that freely guides them toward growth and maturity. The children's innate passion for learning is encouraged by giving them opportunities to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities with the specific materials under the guidance of a trained adult. Within a framework of order, the children progress at their own pace and rhythm, according to their individual capabilities. Montessori recognizes a developmental order from birth to adulthood and activities and environment are adjusted to suit developmental needs.


This is when a child who is unable to write with proficiency, recalls orally what they have learned so that the parent or teacher can write it down for them. It can be used in the earlier grades until writing has become comfortable or in the older years if the child exhibits learning disorders. Either way, comprehension is successfully being diagnosed.

Natural Learning Systems

The five natural learning systems which were developed by Barbara Givens include the emotional, social, cognitive, physical and reflective learning systems.


A kind nickname used by homeschoolers to refer to a parent who is new to homeschooling.


This term is usually used to describe homeschool support groups, organizations, and publications that are not associated with a particular religious denomination. In homeschool circles, the term is sometimes used interchangeably with the word "secular."


A method used to creatively journalize or track homeschool studies and learning experiences by recording them on pages in notebooks or 3-ring binders. In the popular children's historical fiction book, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham, the main character, a young man named Nathaniel Bowditch (born 1773), uses notebooking to record what he learns about astronomy and nautical navigation leading to his famous work, The American Practical Navigator, also known as "The Sailor's Bible." This piece of children's literature helped to make the notebooking concept popular. Homeschoolers who engage in notebooking jot notes or write thoughts about what they are studying. They may enhance the pages with drawings, photos, and illustrations. They may even paste mementos of academic pursuits and subjects of interest onto the pages - similar to a scrapbook. (See also "Lapbooking" entry.)

Park Day

Refers to a day (usually once-a-week) when homeschool families, who belong to a particular homeschool support group, meet at a local park for recreation, socialization, and to share resources and information.


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 field trips, 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.But, it’s Organization is the key. This is an on-going process that your child should take part (and pride) in from the beginning.

Relaxed Homeschooler

A term coined by author Dr. Mary Hood in her 1994 book, The Relaxed Homeschool: A Family Production to explain a less stressful, family-based way of learning. Relaxed homeschooling is a similar term to Unschooling but who take more of a blended approach. Sometimes, their blend is required if they reside in a state with subject and logged time requirements.

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 somewhat rigid daily schedule.

Scope and Sequence

Refers to a plan for a course of study that includes a range of skills and learning objectives to be taught at each successive stage of the coursework or grade level. (See also "Course of Study" entry.)


This term is usually used to describe homeschool support groups, organizations, and publications that are not associated with a particular religious denomination. In homeschool circles, the term is sometimes used interchangeably with the word "non-sectarian."

Singapore Math

The name of a popular K-12 math curriculum that was initially used in primary schools in Singapore where it is NOT called "Singapore Math." The term, "Singapore Math," came into use in the U.S.A. about the year 2000 when teachers, homeschoolers, and others started referring to the books as "Singapore Math."


The American Heritage Dictionary defines socialization as "to bring under government control." That's not what most people have in mind when they ask homeschoolers, "But what about socialization?" They want to know how homeschooled children will learn to interact socially in a civil way with other people if they do not go to school. Despite the concern, all research studies to date, by the U.S. Department of Education as well as other public and private organizations, finds that homeschoolers are BETTER SOCIALIZED than their peers who attend school. That's because homeschoolers are not confined to interacting only with their peers in an institution all day. They interact with a wide variety of people in the real world. Their parents model appropriate social behavior and provide plenty of social opportunities that include play, competitive experiences, co-op classes, field trips and more. Many homeschoolers are criticized as not providing appropriate socialization, meaning the interaction found in a traditional school. 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.

Socialization Myth / S-Word

A false belief that homeschoolers will not be well-socialized. The "S" stands for "socialization" which equates to a "dirty" word among homeschoolers. That's because it is continuously raised as the major objection to homeschooling despite research studies by the U.S. Department of Education and other public and private organizations that indicate homeschoolers are better socialized than their school-going peers.

Statement of Faith

Some homeschool groups or organizations, usually of a religious nature, require members to sign a statement indicating their agreement with the specific religious tenets of the group.

Standardized Tests

A standardized test is any form of test that (1) requires all test takers to answer the same questions, or a selection of questions from common bank of questions, in the same way, and that (2) is scored in a “standard” or consistent manner, which makes it possible to compare the relative performance of individual students or groups of students. While different types of tests and assessments may be “standardized” in this way, the term is primarily associated with large-scale tests administered to sizeable populations of students, such as a multiple-choice test given to all the eighth-grade public-school students in a particular state, for example.

Supplemental Resources

These are educational materials, field trips, and projects that are used to enhance the learning experience.

Support Group

A group of homeschooling families who come together to share information, resources, encouragement, and to provide cooperative educational and social activities for the children. Most groups offer a "park day" once-a-week where families gather; parents chat and kids play. Some groups have a more organizational style with rules and membership dues, while others are extremely casual without any formal structure at all. Support groups vary widely - some are distinctly religious, some follow a particular homeschooling method or style, and some are all-inclusive. There are also virtual homeschool support groups that meet online via Internet forums or chat groups.


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.

Thomas Jefferson Education (TJE)

A "leadership model of education" and according to the home website, it is based on the belief that statesmanship is the product of a particular educational system, used by the great leaders of the past (including America's Founding Fathers), but lost to modern academia. Grounded in the belief in God and immutable moral law, it is framed on the classics in all subject areas under the guidance of a committed mentor. This is a method of education based on a book written by Dr. Oliver Van DeMille. It teaches the methods of the 18th century teacher, George Wythe, who was the personal mentor for 20 of the founding fathers and known as the "Teacher of Liberty". The goal is to educate "the leaders of tomorrow" and then go out and be world changers. This form of education refutes the "conveyor belt" education produced through public schools and instead encourages a family centered learning time, dealing with reading and journaling the classics. It can be used with child led learning or with children who tend to be self motivated learners. Basically, students read the classics, discuss them with a mentor who uses a Socratic-like method of questioning to expand the student's understanding of what they read, and then, the student writes about it. TJE is designed for young adults (age 12 and up, and sometimes later for boys) -- when they have the physical maturity and therefore cognitive capability to handle a regimen of daily study. There is flexibility built into the program since there isn't a rigid or "set" curriculum to follow.

Traditional Schooling

A term used by homeschoolers to refer to students who attend public, private, or parochial schools.


This is the lower of the two divisions of the 7 liberal arts in the Middle Ages. It consists of Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. Typically taught, the Grammar stage begins with the early years through 4th grade, the Logic stage beginning in 5th grade continuing through 8th grade and then the Rhetoric stage beginning in 9th grade and continuing through the 12th grade.

TWTM - The Well Trained Mind

A method of teaching classical curriculum that was outlined in the best-selling book, The Well Trained Mind: A Parents' Guide to Classical Education by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. The book explains that a classical education depends on a three part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.

Umbrella School (or Cover School)

A private school that provides a legal way for parents to homeschool their children. In some states, utilizing an umbrella school legally makes the child a private school student and NOT a homeschooler. Parents who enroll their children in an umbrella school usually take responsibility for their child's education by developing a course of study, providing curriculum, and complying with all of the education requirements. The Umbrella School complies with the legal requirements of the state including filing annual forms (if needed), keeping attendance, maintaining student records, etc. Some of these schools have additional requirements including testing. Some also offer counseling and coaching along with field trips, co-op classes, and enrichment programs such as sports, music, drama, and other electives.

Unit Study

This method of instruction allows students to learn about all subjects through the study of one topic. For example a unit study about Egypt might include language arts through reading Egyptian-themed literature or history, writing a story about an Egyptian Pharaoh, learning about archaeology or hieroglyphics through investigating Egyptian pyramids, listening to Egyptian music, eating Egyptian food, checking out Egyptian artifacts at a museum, etc. There are lots of variations on this theme as families tweak it to suit their individual interests and needs. You can purchase unit study curriculum or create your own.


A term coined by John Holt, an educator who in the 1960s and 1970s spoke out about school reform, and finally abandoned the idea that schools were a good idea at all. Originally, the term simply meant the act of not going to school. Holt believed that true learning only happens when it is desired by the learner. He taught that following the child's natural curiosity about life would lead to learning about every subject typically required by schools and more. He saw parents not as instructors, but as facilitators of their children's learning.

Visual Learner

A visual learner is a student who learns best by seeing, reading, and/or watching. For example: looking at graphics, watching a demonstration, studying notes on overhead slides, reading diagrams and handouts, following a PowerPoint presentation, reading from a textbook, or studying alone.

Waldorf Education

A method of learning based on the teachings of Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner. Steiner was asked to develop a school for the children of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory. He believed children experience three distinct developmental stages and that learning should be tailored to the stages. In Waldorf Schools traditional academics are delayed until at least age 7. Subjects are introduced creatively through stories, art, and music. Some homeschoolers use a Waldorf-inspired method of education at home.

Work Boxes

This is an organizational tool used by homeschoolers. My understanding is that it can also work really well with children who have special needs, as well as aid families in need of organizing their day and area. It can be done with small totes, shoe boxes, hanging files, cereal boxes or anything your mind can dream up. Basically, each child has a set of holders that are numbered according to priority. Each lesson is placed within that box and the child is directed by a labeling system to each one. Here is a workbox website that I found to be a great resource for pictures and examples.

Year Round Schooling

This is when a family chooses to participate in learning activities throughout the entire year and forgoes long breaks in the summer. The thought behind this is that it enables the child to retain information learned, keeping them from needing to spend the first couple months of fall reviewing material they shouldn't have forgotten thus maximizing the learning process.

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