home education vs homeschooling

Home Education vs Homeschooling

Sasha Jackson
Authored by Sasha Jackson
Posted: Sunday, October 8, 2023 - 17:03

So, what's the difference between home education and homeschooling?

When it comes to educating our children outside of the traditional school system, terminology matters more than you might think. In the UK, the preferred term is ‘home education’. It's used when parents or caregivers take the reins of their child's learning journey, customising it to suit their unique interests and learning styles outside of a traditional school setting.

On the other side of the pond, in the USA, they use the term 'homeschooling'. Interestingly, UK local education authorities also use it, but they mean something different. For them, ‘homeschooling’ usually means kids who are still officially registered at school but aren't physically attending.


But why does using the right lingo matter so much to us home educators?

Personally, the term 'homeschooling' grates on me. To me, it implies recreating school at home. But school and education are not synonymous. Home education is dynamic and evolves to meet our children's needs, while school is often a rigid, one-size-fits-all system. Education is so much more than sitting at a desk and memorising facts and shouldn't just be about following a set curriculum. It's about nurturing creativity, fostering respect for others and the world around us, supporting mental well-being, and equipping our small humans with essential life skills.


Words have power and influence

The power of words cannot be overstated. They shape how people perceive what we do. They have a strong impact, shaping public opinion and political decisions. As home educators, it's crucial we stand united in our terminology, given our previous battles with local authorities, MPs, and the DfE to protect our home-ed rights. This collective understanding and use of terminology is pivotal in defining our public narrative.


Using a consistent term helps avoid confusion

Local authorities often have limited knowledge of home education and its various styles. When they hear 'homeschooling,' they might expect to see a traditional school-at-home setup. This misunderstanding can lead to complications and misconceptions. Adopting a single, clear term would help reduce this confusion. Plus, it can be challenging to shake off the school mindset if we keep referring to our approach as homeschooling. With a universal term like ‘home education’, it's clearer that we're doing something different from school, something tailored to each child.


Public perception and misconception

Too often, the media and journalists portray home ed in a negative light, comparing it unfairly to traditional schooling. If you search through newspaper articles or social media discussions, you’ll notice that negative stories and comments usually call it 'homeschooling'. This isn't a coincidence; it’s about shaping the narrative. They'll harp on about socialisation or academic standards, completely missing the point that every child learns at their own pace and in their own way. But when we see positive stories, they usually use the term ‘home education’, reinforcing the idea that what we do is valid and valuable. By consistently using the same term, we help create a more accurate and positive understanding of our community. It’s all about creating a narrative that truly reflects the diverse and enriching experience of home ed.

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