What is Homeschooling? Creating a Better Definition

With so much information out there about homeschooling, you may find yourself overwhelmed and still wondering, “What is homeschooling?”  The beauty of this question is that you can design your own personal answer.  However, when you’re just starting out this freedom can seem daunting.  So let’s take a look at homeschooling and create a solid definition you can use from now on:

What is Homeschooling?

If you complete a quick Google search, you’ll find an extremely basic definition stating homeschooling is “education of children at home by their parents”.  While this definition is inherently true, homeschooling is so much more than this simplistic description.  Let’s start with the fact that homeschooling doesn’t always mean “school at home”.

So Many Options

Contrary to what many believe, there are several ways to homeschool your child.  Here are a few of the most common methods:

  • 100% at Home
    • The parents/guardians are the primary educators and handle instruction at all levels.
  • Homeschool Co-ops
    • A group of parents who come together either formally or informally to provide classes and activities for their children.  Classes may be taught by parents or a designated third-party.  Co-ops are typically fee-based groups due to expenses for course materials, possible instructors, and meeting space.
  • Homeschool Academies
    • Established schools that follow an accepted (usually accredited) homeschool curriculum.  These institutions function much like a private school, and may operate solely online or at physical locations.

*NOTE: You will need to check your state of residence to determine if online accredited home education programs qualify as homeschooling.  Each state has different guidelines and requirements, so do your research first.

So, you can see there’s more than one way to homeschool.  Finding the method that works best for your family is the key to beginning a successful homeschool journey.

A Better Definition

Therefore, I think a better definition for homeschooling would be “Education of children outside of the traditional construct of public, private, or charter education.  Home education may occur solely in the home or involve instruction via co-ops or homeschooling institutions (online or in-person).”

This new definition provides a more comprehensive view and highlights the freedom that exists in shaping your homeschool journey.

Need help getting started? Get 5 Helpful Tips to Begin Homeschooling Here!

The Freedom to Choose

Remember that with homeschooling, you have the freedom to decide what this choice looks like for your family.  Do your best not to give into the pressure of looking, acting, or functioning like other homeschooling families.  Use them as inspiration, but chart your own path.  You will have a much more fulfilling and successful experience in the process.


  1. Tina on 09/08/2017 at 10:57 pm

    I thought your post was well thought out but be careful lumping online accredited at home education with homeschooling. In many states that for of education doesn’t fall under the homeschool umbrella.

    • Dr. Tiffany McKinnon-Russell on 09/08/2017 at 11:08 pm

      Great point! I revised my post to provide clarification. Thanks.

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