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Homeschool vs. School-From-Home

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

I was talking with my wife recently and she was telling me about a business entrepreneur and social media influencer who we both follow. She told me how he recently shared that he was proud to homeschool his kids. “That’s amazing,” I said, “I didn’t realize he homeschooled.” However, she explained that this influencer kept his children home while they worked through their academics as assigned by a local school, which was not quite the same. This brings up an important distinction of homeschool vs school from home.

While there is nothing wrong with schooling from home, it is different from homeschooling. I realized there are a lot of parents excited about doing school-from-home, who have unintentionally mislabeled it as homeschooling. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for at least some amount of time, pretty much everywhere, every student and family suddenly found themselves doing school from home. Because of the uncertainty of the unfolding pandemic, students were not allowed to attend school in-person, and that meant they had to remote in for whatever education could be mustered.

This school-from-home model suddenly became popular by necessity and many left the public schools they attended to join other remote programs that better fit their needs. Although millions of families found themselves unprepared and struggling with having their children home, when they planned to have them physically at school, others found a school-from-home model was a good fit for them. They could keep an eye on their kids, have more flexibility to travel, as remote school is quite portable, and they could avoid many of the negative social pressures. Although all these factors are valid reasons to consider this model, it is quite different from the intentionality and commitment required to homeschool.

During the pandemic, for the first time millions of parents got an inside look into what was happening in their children’s classrooms–many were not impressed. Suddenly, parents were asking themselves why their children were attending schools to receive an education that was either ideological in content or just subpar in substance. For many, this was the first time that homeschool had ever crossed their mind as a legitimate option because they could see–even without formal training–they could do a better job.

This is where the road splits between a school-from-home model and a homeschool model. Although your child works from home in both models, they are really attending two different schools. In a school-from-home model all the identifiable distinctives come from outside the home: the mission, values, curriculum, teachers, and worldview all fit a mold that is not derived from within the home, and may even be contrary to the family’s values therein.

In contrast, a true homeschool is in every way a school. It has identifiable values, sets goals, creates an academic environment and plan for its students, creates and finds curriculum that are agreeable to its goals and values, and procures its own teachers (usually mom or dad) who are committed to the school’s vision. In short, a homeschool derives its identity from within the family that operates it. Therefore, when a family truly decides to homeschool, they will find a school that is 100% in alignment with their values and priorities, understands their unique situation, and caters to the needs of their children. No school-from-home can ever offer that kind of experience, no matter how good it is.

There is a lot of confusion about what a homeschool is. To be clear, it is a school. There are numerous families that have realized the needs or benefits of homeschooling their children, but there may be confusion about how exactly to do it. Like starting any school, starting a homeschool that maintains 100% alignment with a family’s values and priorities is a lot of work, some of it can be scary, or even overwhelming for those who don’t have a clear understanding of what needs to be done. I truly believe that homeschool is the ideal form of education for those willing and prepared to put in the work, but that doesn’t mean doing everything alone either.

There are numerous networks of homeschoolers who would love to help and support those aspiring to join their ranks. There are co-ops, Facebook groups, and local advocacy groups all over the country to support homeschooling families. Anyone looking to start their own homeschool would do well to seek a community.

I talk more about this in my Free E-book, titled, "Why Should I Start Homeschooling?" It also includes a checklist on getting started. You can download your free copy here!

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