or home-school

[ hohm-skool ]
/ ˈhoʊmˌskul /
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verb (used with object)
to teach (one's children) at home instead of sending them to school.
verb (used without object)
to educate one's children at home.
a school set up in the home.
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Origin of homeschool

First recorded in 1770–80 for def. 3 and in 1980–85 for current senses; home + school1


homeschooler, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does homeschool mean?

To homeschool means to educate children at home instead of sending them to a school, especially on a permanent or long-term basis.

Children who are homeschooled are taught by homeschoolers (their parent or other guardian) and the practice of doing so is called homeschooling. This is often contrasted with traditional forms of schooling in which children go to a public or private school with other children in a physical location. Other forms of education that can happen at home, such as distance learning and online classes, are not typically called homeschooling. Homeschooling is usually understood as when the parent or guardian is the one doing the teaching.

Homeschool is sometimes spelled home-school or home school. It can also be used as a noun to mean a school set up at home.

Example: Parents who homeschool their children often plan social activities with other children, but critics say this does not replace the socialization that occurs in traditional schooling.

Where does homeschool come from?

The term home school has been used as a noun since at least the 1800s, and parents have been educating their children at home since long before that. But the first records of the word homeschool as a verb come from the 1980s, around the time when the modern homeschooling movement first began to gain momentum. It was popularized particularly by Christian parents in the United States who wanted more control over their children’s education.

In many countries, it is legally required for children to be educated. Traditionally, this happens in physical buildings where children are taught by teachers in classrooms. Sometimes, though, parents choose to educate their children themselves at their own home instead of sending them to public or private schools. Choosing to homeschool is done for a variety of reasons. Some parents believe that public schools are not safe. Others disagree with elements of the curriculum (the collection of lessons and classes) taught in schools, or think that it’s not sufficient. Others believe that schools are unable to give children the individualized attention they might need, such as education for students with special needs or enrichment for advanced students. Oftentimes, the choice is made for a combination of these reasons and others.

When we say that someone homeschools their children, we typically mean that they do so deliberately by serving as the teacher full time. This is distinguished from occasionally teaching children things when they are sick or otherwise unable to go to school or when schools are closed, such as for the summer—though some parents may use the term homeschool casually in some of these situations.

However, official homeschooling is often regulated by the government and may involve specific requirements. In the U.S., where homeschooling is a popular alternative, some states have strict rules, like requiring parents to be qualified as teachers and to teach an approved curriculum. Regulation in other states is less strict. Acceptance of homeschooling varies by country. Some countries restrict it or ban it altogether.

There are other forms of schooling that do not involve attending a physical school. Distance learning, remote classrooms, online classes, and virtual schools all refer to internet-based programs that take place outside of or in addition to traditional brick-and-mortar schools. However, while students who participate in these types of programs go to school at home, they aren’t usually thought of as being homeschooled because their parent or guardian isn’t the one doing the teaching.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to homeschool?

  • homeschooling (noun, verb)
  • homeschooled (adjective)
  • homeschooler (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with homeschool

What are some words that often get used in discussing homeschool?

What are some words homeschool may be commonly confused with?

How is homeschool used in real life?

Homeschool is usually used to refer to the intentional, long-term education of a child at home. However, it is sometimes used more casually by parents to refer to teaching their kids at home temporarily, such as when schools are closed.



Try using homeschool!

Is homeschool used correctly in the following sentence? 

Sandra and Dawn have chosen to homeschool their children instead of sending them to a traditional brick-and-mortar school.

How to use homeschool in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for homeschool


to teach one's child at home instead of sending him or her to school
  1. being educated at home rather than in schoolhome-school kids
  2. relating to the education of children in their own homes instead of in schoolhome-school parents
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012