Online School is Not Homeschooling and This Distinction is Important


It’s one of those things people say now, with a rueful smile and a shrug … “Guess we’re all homeschoolers now, right?” Except no. No, we are not, and here’s why. Online school is not homeschooling. And using the word “homeschooling” for what parents are doing right now devalues the efforts of the people who are actually educating them.

Homeschooling is a thing; it’s just not this thing

Due to the pandemic, millions of children are learning remotely. But some families have chosen to teach their kids at home for years. Here’s a basic definition: Homeschooling is the educating of children at home by their parents. So while lots of kids are home, the vast majority of them are still being educated by their teachers. 

The term that erases teachers

If we say we are “homeschooling” when someone else actually holds responsibility for our kids’ daily learning, we are essentially erasing that person’s importance. It’s as cringe-worthy as listening to a dad talk about labor and delivery as if he were the main actor. Of course, the whole ordeal was stressful and time-consuming for him. Hopefully, he was present, supportive, and helpful. But he didn’t push out that baby. Parents, if we are not choosing curriculum, writing lessons, creating schedules, delivering instruction, and assessing learning, we are not “pushing out that baby.” Our efforts are so very important. But please, let’s not take the spotlight by calling ourselves homeschoolers. 

Everything we’re not doing

Thanks to teachers, I’m not worrying about what my kids are covering next week or next month; I don’t have to hold the big picture in my mind at all. I’m not thinking about the milestones that need to be hit between now and next quarter. And I don’t have to be “on” for my kids every moment, answering questions and coming up with another way to say something so that a concept clicks. At the end of the day, I have the luxury of knowing that my kids’ education is in other, capable hands.

But this is crazy and hard

Yes. Virtual education is stretching us in a hundred ways. We’re navigating broken links and confusing platforms. Our big kids have been sleeping until 11:00, our little kids are Zoom-averse, and they all just want to be with their friends in person. We’re trying to work and provide academic help at the same time. So sure—let’s call this something. We’re online learning coordinators. We’re virtual education supervisors, heroically staving off chaos. But friends, we are not homeschooling. 

The real heroes

Teachers, thank you for schooling my children. In my home. Through their screens. Thank you for dealing with technology headaches times a hundred. Thank you for learning their names and throwing all your creative energy into their success. I will support you in every way I possibly can. Choosing my words carefully is the least I can do.

We’d love to hear! How do you feel about the term “homeschooling” in this context? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus,10 pandemic parent problems and how to handle them.





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