Homeschooling or Doing School at Home? What's the Difference?

Homeschooling or Doing School at Home? What's the Difference?
by Vicki Stormoen


Homeschooling can mean many different things depending on who you are talking to.  For my opinion on what a bigger picture of homeschooling can mean, click here. The focus of this blog post is in determining if you are actually homeschooling or simply doing school at home.  The more restrictions, conditions, reporting, and lack of real choice you are offered, the more likely you are doing school at home rather than actually homeschooling.  If you are confused as to how the two differ, or which one you are really doing, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I allowed the complete freedom to choose my own curriculum for all subjects?
  2. Am I allowed the complete freedom to follow my own schedule?
  3. Am I allowed the complete freedom to set my own grade standards?
  4. Am I allowed the complete freedom to make my own decisions regarding state testing?
  5. Am I allowed the complete freedom to follow my own pace based on the strengths and challenges of my individual student(s)?
  6. Am I allowed the complete freedom to include (or not include) state-required curriculum content?
  7. Am I allowed the complete freedom to incorporate my faith and beliefs into every subject, curriculum, activity, and class my student participates in?
  8. Am I allowed the complete freedom to count all my student’s academic and extra-curricular activity on my records?

If the answer to any of the above is no, then you have your answer.  You are doing school at home rather than availing yourself of the freedom and blessing of homeschooling.


A true homeschooling program will focus on the four repeating words in the above questions: “…the complete freedom to…” The homeschooling movement was born out of a desire to return the primary decision-making authority to parents versus the state in all matters of educating their children. This was not an easy task and was, naturally, met with much resistance from the public education sector.  Because of those who persevered through those early years, we have the ability to answer a resounding YES to all eight of those questions.  Those questions represent what true homeschooling can and should be. But why does it matter?  Who cares if I am homeschooling or doing school at home?

For some, it does not matter at all.  For others, however, the illusion of thinking they are “homeschooling” may prevent them from experiencing what true homeschooling freedom can be. Depending on the goals you have for your child (including both academic and spiritual goals), private homeschooling may be the only real way to achieve those goals for the very simple fact that it is only through private homeschooling that a parent has the final authority and say in all matters regarding their child’s education.  And that truth is the blessing private homeschooling allows.

As we near the beginning of a new school year here at Heritage Christian School, let us take a moment and remember why we have chosen this private homeschool path.  We have opportunities and advantages as private homeschoolers others do not.  Let us not squander those privileges by providing an educational program that looks like everyone else’s.  As private homeschoolers, we can boldly and unapologetically incorporate a Biblical worldview into every subject, every class, and every activity our children do this year.  Let’s do that!  As private homeschoolers, we can prioritize and include missions or service projects that further the kingdom of God this year.  Let’s make that happen!  As private homeschoolers, we can set our own timeline and follow the needs and desires of our students in the pacing, content, and scheduling of our homeschool year.  Let’s remember that!  Take some time in these next couple of weeks to remember (or set) your goals for your kids both academically and spiritually.  Make whatever changes you need to make in your 2021-2022 plan to get closer to your goals.  You, as a private homeschooler, have the complete freedom to do exactly that.

I am excited to start a new homeschooling year with you!

About the author: Vicki Stormoen has been homeschooling her nine children through Heritage Christian School since 1994. She is currently the Principal of HCS.

Do you have questions about homeschooling or what Heritage Christian School can do for you? We love to help. Email (include your phone number and best time to reach you if you would like to chat on the phone) Or call the office at 858-541-2254. All of our staff are veteran homeschool parents with decades of experience.

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