The Ultimate Glossary of Homeschool Terms

Homeschooling is hard enough without trying to figure out all the jargon thrown around. This alphabetical homeschool glossary of terms is a quick reference list to help you understand the various words and acronyms you may encounter. 

Image of a magnifying glass on a notebook sitting on white boards with the text "The Ultimate Homeschool Glossary of Terms"

Want to jump to a specific letter? Click the letter below.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9

A

  • AAR– All About Reading 
  • AAS – All About Spelling 
  • Accredited – a course, program, or school that offers government approved education or credits for completed work
  • ACE – Accelerated Christian Education
  • ACPEQAssociation of Christian Parent Educators of Québec
  • ADHD/ADD – Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder / Attention Deficit Disorder *
  • AHEAAlberta Home Education Association
  • AiG – Answers in Genesis
  • All-in-one – A curriculum option that includes everything you in need in a single package
  • Answer Key – a section that provides the answers to problems within a textbook, workbook, or progra.
  • AO – This acronym refers to Ambleside Online. This is a free, Charlotte-Mason curriculum available online. They offer a Canadian add-on
  • AOP – AlphaOmega Publications is a Christian curriculum company that offers multiple options including Monarch (an online program), Horizons (a spiral workbook approach), LIFEPAC (a mastery workbook approach), Weaver (a multi-age unit study approach), and an online school called IGNITE
  • AP – Some high school courses use this designation to indicate they are Advanced Placement classes. These programs are more rigorous and academic focused, intending to help students work at a higher level. It ends with an exam.
  • AQED L’Association Québécoise pour l’éducation 
  • ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Association – Generally, a homeschool association is a privately run provincial organization that focuses on providing support and information to homeschoolers in their province/territory, often through membership. Some run annual conferences, help members to find local communities, and lobby the government on behalf of homeschoolers. Some offer discounts to various programs and partners.
  • Audiobook – a story or book that is read to you over speakers
  • Auditory Learner – a learning style where someone absorbs information best by listening. Popular methods of teaching a child with this style are audio books and read-alouds

Return to Top

B

  • BA – Beast Academy, a comic based math program for ages 6-13
  • Basket Timealso known as circle time, morning time, or morning basket. This is an intentional time of day where you sit together as a family and do lessons from the basket together. These often include group subjects that can be taught through read-alouds, but might also include subjects such as music. The contents of a basket are chosen by the family and vary per family and their learning plans.
  • BCHEABritish Columbia Home Education Association
  • BF – Beautiful Feet Books
  • BFIAR – Before Five in a Row 
  • BJU – Bob Jones University. 
  • Block Schedule – A schedule where you set intentional periods of time for specific subjects. For example, from 9am until 10am is math, 10 until 11 is science, 11 until noon is language. This method is similar to a school schedule.
  • Boxed Curriculum – This is where you get everything you need for a single grade level in one box, commonly using one curriculum provider, which allows you to order it all at once and move your way through the grade levels.
  • BW – BraveWriter, a language arts program
  • Burnout – a period of exhaustion caused by long periods of high stress and responsibility. Recovery can take a lot of work and time
  • Busywork – Work given to your student to keep them busy but doesn’t offer much or any real educational value. Worksheets are often busywork because they don’t teach anything new, but just fill time.

Return to Top

C

  • CarschoolingAlso known as roadschooling. Using the time that you are in a vehicle going to various activities, running errands, or travelling to provide educational opportunities. This could be through games, audiobooks, workbooks etc.
  • CC – Classical Conversations, a Christian homeschooling program that focuses on community learning using the Classical method.
  • Charlotte Mason – an educator from the early 1900s whose personal approach to education has become a complete homeschool method which involves living books, nature study, and habit training. Many of her philosophies are written in a series of books which are still available today.
  • Child-Led – a method which allows the child’s interests and curiosities to lead the learning. Sometimes used interchangeably with delight-directed and unschooling.
  • Circle Time – similar to morning basket or basket time, this term refers to gathering together for conversation and focus on group learning for a short period of time. Commonly used in preschool and the early years of public school to start and end a day.
  • Classical – A method which follows the concept known as “trivium” which focuses on logic and reasoning through three different stages of child development: grammar, logic, and rhetoric.
  • CLE – Christian Light Education
  • CLP – Christian Liberty Press
  • CM – a shortened reference to Charlotte Mason
  • Conference – either an online or in-person gathering of homeschoolers and companies which typically involves speakers providing information about homeschooling and a vendor hall to showcase curricula and programs available
  • Co-op – a homeschool community group where parents typically take turns leading classes and activities. There can be a varying degree of involvement requirements or costs. 
  • Copywork – the practice of copying a piece of written work by hand to master handwriting skills
  • Core Subject – the main subjects covered in an education curriculum. These usually include mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies. Sometimes referred to as the “core four” although the specific subjects may vary depending on location and situation
  • Credit – the value given to high school study. This can be given based on time – such as completing somewhere between 90 and 120 hours of combined learning, assignments, and hands-on opportunities. It can also be given based on completion, such as completing all the work provided within a particular curriculum. 
  • Curriculum – the subjects that build the foundations of school. In homeschool terms, this is generally what people call the various programs and courses which they use to provide the instructions and teaching materials for their children.

Return to Top

D

  • DD/DS/DH/DC – Although not homeschool specific, these short forms are often seen in parenting and homeschool related forums and groups online. The first D in each is for the word “dear.” The letter that follows refers to a member of your family, D for daughter, S for son, H for husband, C for child. Sometimes these are followed by a number, which is related to the person’s age (ie. DD4 means my daughter who is 4 years old.) 
  • Delight Directed – similar to child-led, this style of learning allows your child’s interests to lead the way. Curriculum or study focuses on things that follow their curiosities.
  • DEM – The short form for Quebec’s homeschool segment of their Ministry of Education: “Direction de l’enseignement à la maison” This department oversees Quebec’s  homeschooling regulations such as notifications, mid-term and year-end learning reviews, learning projects, and evaluations. 
  • Deschooling – A process of changing beliefs, thoughts, and experiences related to how education should be like. The easiest way to think of this is giving space to learn how to enjoy learning again. This is often a suggested process when transitioning from public school to homeschool. Many people advocate for at least taking a month off for each year in the public system before diving into an alternative learning lifestyle like homeschooling. This period can involve a lot of free time (sort of like summer) and learning to change both your and your child’s mindset about what learning is and how it needs to be taught. Often, this term is incorrectly used as a synonym for unschool – which is a completely different thing. 
  • Dictation – While a teacher or parent reads a section of text aloud, the student writes it out by hand. This is a good way to work on memorization skills as well as handwriting and comprehension skills. It is closely related to copywork.
  • Digital Resources – a digital resource is typically something that you download to use. These often include PDF files or printable worksheets. They are not physical products that you can buy and have mailed to you. 
  • Diploma – a paper issued upon completion of high school requirements. In Canada, most provinces/territories do not provide homeschoolers with a government issued diploma unless they have completed an accredited course which provides such. Homeschoolers can provide their own diplomas, however these can be met with varying degrees of acceptance.
  • Distance Learning – a method of learning where the creator or presenter of the content is in a different physical location than the student. Traditionally this was done through correspondence courses (where students completed the work at home and mailed it back for grading) but now also includes online learning and virtual classes.
  • Distributed Learning – Now known as “Online Learning”, this is one of the options for homeschooling families in British Columbia where families work with a teacher to complete the provincial outcomes. It’s school-at-home, instead of homeschooling. Sometimes referred to as DL
  • DL – the short form of the term Distributed Learning, one of BC’s home learning options, which has been replaced with the term Online Learning.
  • Dual Enrollment – when high school students complete college or apprenticeship courses which give them credits for both high school and a post-secondary program at the same time. 
  • Dyscalculia – a learning disability affecting a person’s ability to do basic math skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. *
  • Dysgraphia – a learning disability which affects writing skills. *
  • Dyslexia – a learning disability which affects reading skills. *

Return to Top

E

  • Eclectic – a method of homeschooling that combines different pieces of multiple homeschooling methods to create a personalized learning experience.
  • ETC – Explode the Code 
  • EIW – Essentials in Writing. Often confused with IEW – which is a completely different writing program from a different company.
  • Electives – Subjects and topics outside the core subjects. Typically used in the high school years as teenagers when they take more specialized courses. Electives can be anything from a second language to computer or business courses to astronomy to journalism.
  • Enrolled – a term used in some provinces (specifically British Columbia) to refer to students who use the Distributed Learning or Online Learning option for learning at home.
  • EP – Easy-Peasy All-in-One Homeschool
  • Extra-curricular – an activity done outside the intentional school subjects and time. These can include activities such as community clubs, sports or special interest teams, music lessons, hobbies, and volunteering. 

Return to Top

F

  • Facilitator – also called an Assigned Teacher in Alberta, this professional supports homeschooling families through the year, provides evaluations as required through the year, and also offers advice as needed.
  • Faith-Based – a curriculum or program presented from usually a Christian perspective.
  • FI – a short form for French Immersion
  • Field Trip – an excursion away from your usual location to discover or experience something first hand. Can also be done as a virtual field trip
  • Forest School – An outdoor learning experience that involves child-led exploration of nature combined with the opportunities to develop physical and social skills through play and healthy risk-taking.
  • Freeschooling – a term that is often used interchangeably with unschooling, where there is no set curriculum. Students are in charge of choosing what and how they learn with adults as a facilitator. 
  • French Immersion – when children who are not French as a first language receive educational instruction in French
  • Funding – Money provided by the government to homeschoolers in some provinces for school-related purchases – not available in most provinces.

Return to Top

G

  • Gameschool – the use of games (can be table-top or video games, depending on the family) for learning. For example, to practice spelling, you can play games like Scrabble, Bananagrams, or Boggle.

Return to Top

H

  • Hands-On – This method of learning focuses on learning by doing. Some examples are doing science experiments, making 3D model maps, using manipulatives for math, or baking cookies.  
  • HEMS – A homeschool support group based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia meaning Helping Encouraging Mentoring Serving
  • HENBHome Educators of New Brunswick 
  • High School – Typically the last few grades of formal education before post-secondary. Some consider this to start in grade 9 and some in grade 10
  • HSLDAHomeschool Legal Defence Association. There are both US and Canadian versions of this non-profit organization which offers a membership for legal support, insurance, advice and more. 
  • HOD – Heart of Dakota
  • Home Education – used interchangeably with the term homeschooling – where parents take responsibility for their child’s education
  • Homeschooling – used interchangeably with the term home education – where parents take responsibility for their child’s education
  • HS(ing) – the short form for the word homeschooling 
  • HS – a short form for the term high school
  • HWT/HWOT – Handwriting Without Tears
  • Hybrid – a method of learning where a child splits their school time between a public school and homeschooling.
  • Hyggeschool – a style of homeschooling that merges both structured learning with child-led free learning. Also called minimalist or relaxed learning.

Return to Top

I

  • IEP – Individualized Education Plan. Used to provide specific accommodations for learning exceptionalities. Commonly used for public school settings. Not used overly much in a homeschooling situation since everything is already personalized. 
  • IEW – Institute for Excellence in Writing
  • ISO – used in swap groups to reference “In search of…” when someone is looking to buy, find, or borrow the resource that follows

Return to Top

  • JK – Junior Kindergarten, an early learning year before traditional kindergarten for ages 3-4 year olds.

Return to Top

K

  • Kinetic/Kinesthetic Learner – a person who learns best by doing or moving as opposed to listening or watching.

Return to Top

L

  • LA – a short form for Language Arts
  • Language Arts – sometimes summed up under the term “English.” Language Arts covers multiple areas – writing, reading, speaking, and listening. This is done through subjects such as literature studies, phonics, grammar, creativing writing, and speech, although other topics may be included as well.
  • Lapbook – a visual compilation of learning on a special topic through mini-books or folded papers usually mounted on a file folder. 
  • LATL – Language Arts Through Literature
  • LD – a short form that refers to Learning Disabilities
  • Learning Styles – the belief that people learn best through different methods. There are many variations of these styles, but the three common ones are visual, audio, or hands-on (kinesthetic). This idea is sometimes challenged as incorrect or outdated.
  • Lesson Plan – an outline of what you plan to teach and when 
  • Letter of Intent – an official letter used to notify the school board of your plan to homeschool. Each province / territory has different terms or processes involved for the registration.
  • Life Learning – a term used interchangeably with unschooling, a method of learning which accepts that learning happens through every experience in life.
  • Living Book – a book that brings topics to life through a narrative story to engage the reader. Often used through the Charlotte Mason homeschooling method. 
  • LoE – Logic of English
  • LoF – Life of Fred
  • Looping – a method of lesson planning which uses a cyclical approach instead of a structured daily routine. For example, instead of planning to do science every monday, art every tuesday, history every wednesday, etc, a looping plan does a rotation such as science on day 1, art on day 2, history on day 3, then go back to science to start the cycle over again, no matter which day it is.

Return to Top

M

  • Manipulatives – physical items used for hands-on learning, specifically for math, but also useful in other subjects. Could be items such as buttons or blocks, but can also be more formal tools like an abacus or base-ten blocks.
  • MASH – Manitoba Association for Schooling at Home
  • MACHS – Manitoba Association of Christian HomeSchools
  • Mastery – This approach focuses on a topic until the student fully understands it. As opposed to a spiral approach which touches on parts of a topic and returns to add a new element to it later in the learning experience. 
  • MB – MasterBooks
  • MBTP – Moving Beyond the Page
  • Method – A teaching or learning approach that you can choose to use in your homeschool. Some examples include Classical, Charlotte Mason, Eclectic, and Unschooling – although there are many others.
  • MFW – My Father’s World
  • Middle School – The school levels between elementary school and high school sometimes called Junior High. The grades often include grades 5 through 8 or 9 (or some variation thereof). 
  • Minimalist – a homeschooling method that combines some formal structured learning with unschooling. Also known as relaxed homeschooling or hyggeschooling.
  • MM – Math Mammoth
  • MOH – Mystery of History
  • Montessori – an educational approach based on the studies and practices of early 1900’s educator, Maria Montessori, which used self-directed, inquiry-based, hands-on learning. 
  • Morning Basket – also called morning time or basket time, this is an intentional period of time where the entire family gathers together to complete group studies and lessons. These can include read-alouds, music studies, faith lessons, or anything else that might be done as a group.
  • Morning Time – also called Morning Basket or Basket Time
  • MUS – Math-U-See

Return to Top

N

  • Narration – the practice of reading a portion of text aloud and having your child repeat back what they heard. Commonly heard of in the Charlotte Mason method.
  • Nature Study – the study of plants, birds, animals etc through first hand observation while outdoors. Commonly practiced in the Charlotte Mason method although it is a popular choice for many homeschool methods. 
  • Non-resident Board – In Alberta, homeschooling families register with a school board for supervision.  However, that board does not need to be their local board. A non-resident board is the designation of a school board that anyone can register under no matter where in the province they live.
  • Notebooking – a variation of a lapbook, where students compile information learned in various creative formats such as mini-books, folded papers, maps, etc, but instead of being attached to a file folder, they are placed in a notebook or three-ringed binder
  • Notification – the process of informing the proper authorities about your intention to homeschool
  • NSHEA Nova Scotia Home Education Association
  • NWP – NorthWoods Press, sometimes referred to as Donna Ward after the author of most of their curriculum resources

Return to Top

O

  • OCHEC  – Ontario Christian Home Educators Connection
  • OFTP Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents
  • OM – Oak Meadow
  • Online Learning – a method of delivery of teaching through computer resources such as virtual classrooms. This term has also replaced the term Distributed Learning in British Columbia.
  • Open & Go – a curriculum which requires little to no preparation to use. 
  • OPG – Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading
  • Outsourcing – using outside resources or people to teach subjects or classes that you can’t or don’t want to teach yourself. For example, if you aren’t strong in advanced math, you might outsource it to a tutor or online program. Or if your child wants to do carpentry, you might outsource learning to a local builder.

Return to Top

  • Parent-Led – a method of learning where parents decide what topics, curriculum, and activities will be studied and included in the homeschool year, as opposed to child-led learning
  • PEICHEPrince Edward Island Christian Home Education
  • Planner – a paper or digital resource that helps you put a schedule in place for your schooling. Often planners also help organize other areas of your life, like errands, meals, cleaning, and your day to day calendar.
  • Play-based Learning – Especially common in the early years, this method focuses on learning through child-led play activities, such as playing “house,” stacking blocks, or dumping water into different containers in a bathtub.
  • Pod – also called learning pod. A pod is a small group of families with kids that hires a teacher to work with their group as a private school.
  • Portfolio – a collection of student’s work throughout the year to use as a record of progress
  • PPU – seen in swap and sales groups to signify “Pending Pick-up”
  • PreK – Pre-Kindergarten – typically children between the ages of 3 and 5. Can also include Junior Kindergarten
  • Preschool – the period of learning between the ages of 3 and 5
  • Print – Curriculum that uses physical printed copies
  • Project Based Learning – a method of learning that uses large projects to learn multiple subjects at once. For example, students can start their own business, which would involve skills such as research, writing a business plan, balancing their income and expenses, learning how to pay taxes, communicating with customers or suppliers, and handling products.
  • Provincial Learning Outcomes – government created expectations of what needs to be learned for each subject in each grade in each province. 
  • PS – a short-form for the term public school

Return to Top

Q

R

  • R&S  – Rod & Staff
  • Radical Unschooling – this term refers to the merging of unschooling – the belief that all learning can happen through life experiences without the structure of formal education – and a parenting style which involves limited or no structured rules. 
  • Read-aloud – the practice of reading a book out loud to your child while they listen
  • Regulation – the legal rules required by the government in order to homeschool 
  • Relaxed Learning – a homeschool method which combines the ideals of unschooling (learning through life, child-led learning) combined with some formal structured learning typically in an eclectic style. It allows for both parent-led and child-led learning experiences. Can also be known as Minimalist Schooling.
  • Reports – a mid-year and/or year end submission that outlines educational progress through the school year. This is required in some provinces  but not all.
  • Roadschooling – using the time in the car between activities, errands, or travelling to provide educational opportunities such as games, audiobooks, and workbooks. Also called Carschooling 
  • Rote Learning – the practice of memorization by repetition
  • RS – RightStart Math

Return to Top

S

  • Sabbath School – a way to plan your homeschool year in sections of six weeks of work followed by the seventh week off for a rest
  • School-at-home – this method is the replication of doing public school at home. 
  • School Board – a local authority that oversees and supports the schools in their area. Some provinces require registration with their local boards and others require notification and reports.
  • SCM – Simply Charlotte Mason
  • Scope & Sequence – the summary of the topics and outcomes a curriculum follows – whether through a single subject, a full grade, or even over the entire duration of learning from K-12. 
  • Second Breakfast – a phrase taken from Lord of the Rings series referencing the Hobbits’ habit of needing to constantly eat, a habit that also seems to be common with homeschooled children.
  • Secular – curriculum, resources, groups, etc that have no religious connections or spiritual basis
  • Self-Care – the practice of taking care of yourself through various intentional actions. This is an important step in avoiding exhaustion and burnout in homeschooling parents
  • Self-Directed – a learning style where students take control of the direction and focus of their learning.
  • SHBESaskatchewan Home-Based Educators
  • SL – Sonlight
  • Snow Day – a day off from schoolwork because there is snow to play in 
  • Social Studies – a core subject that encompasses multiple different topics related to humanity, such as history, geography, sociology, civics, economics, etc. 
  • Socialization – this term refers to learning how to interact with others in society in an acceptable way or hanging out with others such as peers and friends. This concept is often misunderstood and questioned by those who aren’t familiar with the homeschool lifestyle. 
  • SOS – Switched on Schoolhouse
  • SOTW  – Story of the World
  • Spine – a book which is the foundation of a curriculum or study. 
  • Spiral – a method of learning that is spread out over time instead of focusing on mastering skills all at once. It revisits topics for review and then builds the next layer or concepts piece by piece. The opposite of the method of learning known as mastery approach.
  • SPPU – used in swap and sales groups to signify that an item has been sold pending pick up.
  • SS – Sequential Spelling
  • Standardized Testing – a test that everyone at the same level takes that uses all the same questions in order to evaluate the knowledge and skills of students. Often considered an official mark of how successful a particular school or program is. In most provinces where standardized testing is normal within a school system, homeschoolers are exempt. (Quebec requires participation in this testing). 
  • Strewing – the art of intentionally laying books and objects around the house to spark a child’s curiosity on a specific subject as they discover, explore, and read on their own
  • Student-Led – allowing the child’s interests and curiosities to lead the direction of learning and study. Also called child-led learning.
  • Sun Day – a day off from schoolwork because the weather is too nice to stay inside
  • SUS – Spelling-U-See

Return to Top

T

  • T4L– Time4Learning
  • Textbook – typically a printed hard-cover book with the complete information on one area of study that is used as the spine of a course or curriculum.
  • Tigerschooling – an approach where parents take the lead in their child’s educational path, pushing them towards diligence and excellence.
  • TpT– Teachers Pay Teachers – a website with printables and digital resources for sale, created by educators
  • TT – TeachingTextbooks
  • Traditional – a method of homeschooling with uses textbooks and workbooks like commonly used in a public school, even if it’s not exactly the same materials
  • Transcript – a listing of courses, programs, and classes with marks taken during the high school levels as a record of completion. Often used as part of post-secondary school applications.
  • Tutor – a mentor who is proficient in an area of learning who teaches, reviews, and supports students in that subject.
  • Twaddle – the action of over-simplification of concepts, conversations, projects, resources, books, and time in a child’s education, thereby providing little to no educational value. Commonly referenced in Charlotte Mason communities.
  • Twice Exceptional – also called 2E, when a child is both gifted and having a learning or developmental disability. *
  • TWTM – The Well-Trained Mind 

Return to Top

U

  • Umbrella Program / Umbrella School – a private school, board, or organization that oversees homeschooling families in order to assure they meet the requirements for their province/territory. 
  • Unit Study – a method of learning that focuses around a single topic and includes aspects of many different subjects. For example, a study on weather could include science (how weather happens), math (observation and graphing of daily weather), language arts (learning terms, spelling words, and daily journaling), art, history (researching past weather experiences), and geography (mapping out weather across Canada). 
  • Unschooling – a method of learning that believes all learning can be accomplished through life, using their child’s curiosity to explore things naturally
  • US – a short form for Unit Study

Return to Top

V

  • Virtual Learning – classes, lessons, or programs done on the computer over the internet
  • Virtual School – school that is done online. During the pandemic, this term became synonymous with public school at home done over zoom or other similar technology as led by teachers and the school board. This method of learning is not the same as homeschooling where parents take responsibility for their child’s education outside of the school system.
  • Visual Learner – a learning style where someone learns best by seeing. Some common options are videos, reading, and watching someone do it to follow. 

Return to Top

W

  • Waldorf – based on the teachings and ideas of Rudolph Steiner in the early 1900s, this method focuses on head, heart, and hands (thinking, feeling, and doing). It combines arts with academics.
  • Workboxes – a method of organization originally created by Sue Patrick where the homeschool assignments or activities are separated into individual boxes so your child completes their work one thing at a time then works their way through all the boxes.
  • Worksheet – a printable or printed book page to review learning
  • Worldschooling – A method of learning that involves travelling the globe and learning from the experiences interacting with different cultures, communities, and people.

Return to Top

X

Z

0-9

  • 2E – a short-form of the term Twice Exceptional, when a child is both gifted and having a learning or developmental disability. *

Return to Top

*please note that these terms are constantly evolving and changing due to research and understanding, and therefore, although in common use, aren’t necessarily accurate any longer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.