A Basic List of Homeschool Terms

Asalamualaikum, and greetings. if you are considering homeschooling your child, there are many terms that you should become familiar with as they will help you on your journey. Here is a list taken from my book “The Muslim Family Guide to Successful Homeschooling“. This is a basic list that will get you started on your homeschool journey.


Boxed Curriculum: Also known as School-In-A-Box, it refers to a complete package of curriculum that includes all the materials a student needs for his or her particular grade level, including tests, workbooks, textbooks, activity suggestions and a teachers manual. This program is ideal for those who prefer a traditional, more structured approach to homeschooling.


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


Calvert School: The oldest distance-learning program for children in the United States. Calvert offers a complete homeschooling program for children in grades pre-K through 8. Parents purchase the curriculum package for their child’s grade level. These packages come complete with textbooks, workbooks, and all of the materials needed to complete the course of study. This program is ideal for those who prefer a traditional, structured approach to homeschooling. *Note: Not all correspondence schools offer accredited diplomas. If this is important to you, check with each individual school to find out if they are accredited in your state.


Charter Schools: Non-traditional public schools that offer more flexibility to teachers and students. These schools are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to regular public schools. Some offer “home study programs” wherein the student is assigned an “education facilitator” who meets with parents and students once a month to discuss progress, collect work samples, and attendance sheets. Individual charter school programs may provide educational credits to be used for the purchase of an educational curriculum and or any class or outside vendored lessons the child wants to take.


Charlotte Mason Education: Named after the 19th century educator, Miss Charlotte Mason, who said that children learned best by observation and narration. Her method encourages students to observe and create. The goal of Mason education is to provide the child with a lifelong love and quest for knowledge, and the skills to succeed in that quest.


CHSPE (California High School Proficiency Exam): An exam that a student can take before official graduation. It is equivalent to a high school diploma in California. In order to take this exam, the student must be at least 16 years old or have completed at least one academic year of the 10th grade.


Classical Education: Also called trivium-based education, it is a history-based approach to education that divides education into three stages: grammar in early elementary school, logic in middle school, and rhetoric in high school. *Note: If you are interested in this teaching style, read the book “The Well-Trained Mind” by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer.


Core Subjects: Refers to the main subject matter a child is required to learn. According to “The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,” the “core academic subjects” are:


Reading or Language Arts



Foreign Languages

Civics and Government






Cooperative (Co-Op): Refers to a cooperative of families who homeschool their children together. There is an opportunity for more socialization amongst the children. They may take classes together go on field trips. Parents teach the subjects that they are more specialized in.


Cover School: Also known as an umbrella school, this is a school that enrolls homeschooling children or families and offers services supportive of home education.


Curriculum: Refers to any materials used to teach subjects including but not limited to workbooks, textbooks, worksheets, software, activities, and so on.


Cyber Schools: Also known as virtual schools, these schools can be attended via the Internet. A student takes all or most of the required courses for a degree, diploma or certificate online. Some are free and some charge a fee.


Diagnostic Testing: These types of tests measure a child%u201Fs strengths and weaknesses. An initial test determines whether further testing is required to determine if a child may have a learning disability or other special needs. You can secure diagnostic tests from different curriculum providers and online sources. If you are with a homeschooling program, you may be able to access the test for free.


Eclectic Approach: A method of teaching that does not rely on any one approach but rather utilizes the teaching method and style that works best for the individual child.


GED: This is an abbreviation for the General Equivalency Diploma. Homeschoolers can take the GED test to prove that they are proficient in high school academic skills. Upon completing and passing the test, students receive a certificate similar to a diploma and can usually go on to community college for further education.


Holt, John: is a pioneer of the modern homeschool and un-school movement. Holt believed that, given the opportunity, children will learn naturally. The idea is to give them the freedom to follow their own interests with access to a rich assortment of resources. He founded the “Growing Without Schooling” movement that publishes the Growing Without Schooling magazine and has authored a number of books including the homeschool classic, “Teach Your Own.”


Home Education Magazine: This is the oldest homeschooling magazine and is available nationwide.


Homeschool Support Group: A group of homeschooling families that come together periodically to share information, encouragement and to provide cooperative educational and social activities for the children. Activities vary from group to group. Some may have play-days, organized classes, or field trips. Some are religion-specific and some are all-inclusive. Check online to find a local homeschool support group in your area.


IEP: stands for Individual Educational Plan. This is an individualized plan used by public schools to write, evaluate, diagnose and set goals and teaching strategies for primarily disabled students. Any child who receives special education and related services must have an IEP.


Lapbook: This is basically a manila file folder, refolded, creased and turned into a learning scrapbook. A lapbook may contain facts, diagrams, illustrations, etc., related to the subject. It can be simple, with just a picture and definition. Or it can be complex with pockets, flaps, pop-ups, origami folds and more.


Learning Methods: Also known as “learning styles,” this phrase refers to the different ways children and adults naturally learn best. Most people are a combination of more than one learning style, but usually one style is dominant over another. Knowing your child%u201Fs learning style, and teaching according to that style, will engage him on that level and will enable your child to better retain the material. The number of learning styles can vary in number, but the three main styles are:

1. Auditory (learning by hearing)

2. Visual (learning by seeing)

3. Kinesthetic (learning by doing)


Math Manipulatives: Hands-on educational tools that help students build concrete models of abstract math concepts so they can better understand them. Manipulatives help students connect math terminology and symbols in a practical way. Manipulatives include blocks, Cuisenaire rods, color tiles, popsicle sticks, counters, spinners, beans, pebbles, interlocking cubes, and number lines, etc.


Montessori Education: Founded by Dr. Maria Montessori, who specialized in child development, this schooling method follows the natural emotional, physical and mental development of children. The child is allowed to progress at his or her own pace, and according to their own individual capabilities, through practical play. The teacher observes while the child freely uses the various self-teaching materials. The teacher steps in only if needed, mainly to resolve any misbehavior issues, or to show the child how to use something.


Notebooking: A popular educational method which entails journaling or keeping track of homeschool studies and educational experiences in a notebook or three-ring binder. Students take notes or write down their thoughts on what they are learning. They mayalso add pages with photos or illustrations.


Online Support Groups: Homeschooling parents who offer each other support through e-mail lists or forum message boards on the Internet. They lack face-to-face contact, but are especially valuable for those who don%u201Ft know other homeschoolers, and for those who are on a tight schedule and don’t want to get involved in a busy local group.


Phonics: A reading method used to learn how to read and write English. Phonics familiarizes students with the various English sounds and the letters they correspond to. Once they have mastered the main sounds, they can then read many English words.


Portfolio: A record of a homeschool students educational career, which includes reading and attendance logs, assignments, writing samples, pictures of projects, field trips, and awards, certificates of completion and more.


Private School Affidavit: Formerly known as an R-4 form, this form is used by homeschoolers in California to notify the state that they have established a private school. If you live in California and plan to instruct your child at home without enrolling them in any type of homeschool, you will need this form to file with the Board of Education.


School at Home: Refers to the method of setting up your home in a way that duplicates the methods and atmosphere of a traditional classroom.


Standardized Test: State or federal tests that are used to evaluate how well a child has learned a subject or grade level when compared to other children in his grade and age group. Some states require homeschoolers to take standardized tests. Studies have shown that homeschoolers consistently outscore government-schooled children. These test results don’t necessarily indicate achievement.


Waldorf Schooling: A philosophy of teaching based on using the kinesthetic form of learning, developed by Rudolf Steiner. Waldorf emphasizes the role of the imagination in learning. Subjects are introduced creatively through stories, art, and music.

I hope you found this post helpful. Thank you so much for stopping by and please come again. 🙂

Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jamila is a homeschool mom, author, blogger, entrepreneur and sometimes gardener.

7 thoughts on “A Basic List of Homeschool Terms

  1. Wow great blog. Keep going sister. Im from Australia but learning much about homeschooling through your site. May Allah reward you.

  2. This is a great list. I’m sure there are new homeschoolers who would have no clue. We are currently in a virtual/cyber school program for high school and we tend to suffer from burnout on a regular basis. 😉

    • Thanks Patricia! I hope some folks will find this list useful, inshalah. We are with a homeschool program that is rather relaxed but it gets hectic here too so I can definitely relate sis. 😉

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