Public School at Home vs True Homeschooling:  Is this school at home?  Blog, Video.

Is doing public school at home the same thing as homeschooling?  The short answer is NO.

Why have I even raised this question when I know it might make some folks mad?  Why go down that road when so many people are (maybe for the first time) being exposed to homeschooling?

Because it’s critical to shed light on what homeschooling really is and to illustrate the differences. 

Listen to this Podcast Episode: Homeschooling vs Public School at Home

Listen to this episode on the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast. Our podcast episodes are a bit more conversational in nature. Look for Episode #160 Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or nearly anywhere that podcasts are played.

HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast Cover: Homeschooling with Jackie

Is doing school at home during the pandemic the same as homeschooling? Why would I even broach this topic?  The reason I want to illustrate the differences is that I think that some families who had their kids in school before the pandemic may try this homeschooling thing and decide it’s not for them. 

After this recent ‘forced experiment,’ some people may think homeschooling is terrible.  They may think they hate it – when in fact, homeschooling and ‘doing school at home’ are very, very different.

If you are following the public school, a charter school, or a private school’s agenda at home – you aren’t homeschooling.  You are doing school at home.  Now, this statement isn’t made to diminish the effort that public or private school families are making as they educate their kids from home.  It’s made to lay the foundation for what I’m going to say next. 

Consider True Homeschooling

Here’s what I want to convey.  I want to convey that true homeschooling can be an incredibly enriching experience for families.  I want to illustrate the differences so that maybe you’ll consider homeschooling in the true essence of the word – even after other kids return to school.

School at Home vs. Homeschooling

So what are the differences between homeschooling and doing school at home during the coronavirus pandemic?  Are you ready for this?  The list is long as the differences are profound.


Generally speaking, parents have a choice to have their children enrolled in school or to homeschool their kids.  When you have a choice, that fundamentally changes everything in your mind.  You know that you could make a different choice, but you choose to educate your children from home.

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School at Home vs Homeschooling Legal Considerations

The laws around homeschooling are different in every state and around the world.  In general though, the law requires that homeschool families register their children as homeschooled students.  As mentioned before, doing your ‘as-directed’ schoolwork at home during COVID-19 is not homeschooling.  Veteran homeschoolers understand this, and it’s important to lay it out here.  

There are significant differences between doing school at home and true homeschooling.


The differences between those who chose to take full responsibility for the children’s education – of their own free will – prior to COVID-19 and those who are doing ‘school at home’ because they must are significant.  Don’t worry though, sometimes the best outcomes only get started because of an ‘oh-no!’ moment that forces us to take a risk. 

True homeschooling parents assume all of the responsibility for their children’s education.  Believe me, this can be daunting, exciting, humbling, and rewarding – all wrapped up together. If your child goes to school outside of the home, there are tons of outside influences that can share the blame if things don’t go well; from teachers, to assistants, to administrators…you get the picture.  Homeschooling parents can’t do that, we own it all. Yep, even when it ain’t so pretty!

Educational Style & Curriculum

Homeschooling parents have choices about how & what we teach our kids.  There are many different styles and approaches to homeschooling your children.

Some families follow a school-at-home model, some are unschoolers, others implement gameschooling strategies, while others apply a wildschooling philosophy.  Many are eclectic homeschoolers – cherry picking their favorite parts of various curriculum and styles.

There are laws to follow, but homeschooling parents educate their children using methods that vary widely.  If you are doing school at home, you are probably following your school’s curriculum and there isn’t room for individual differences – even when ‘their way’ isn’t effective for your kid.

Public School at Home vs True Homeschooling: Is this school at home? Podcast Episode

School at Home Schedules vs Homeschooling Schedules

If your child’s school is using online classes where the teacher and all the kids need to be there at a certain time, then you are now responsible for making sure your child is logged in at the correct times. 

As a true homeschooling family, if your kids are taking online classes it was a choice and you are likely paying for those classes.

Generally, true homeschooling parents have total control of their family’s schedule.  Both their daily and yearly school calendar may look different than a school family’s schedule.  In fact, it’s likely that no homeschooler’s schedule is identical to another.

Speed of Implementation

Speed of implementation implies that your child has the freedom to work at their own pace.  They can move faster or slower through curriculum.  They can breeze through the easy things and slow down for concepts that are more challenging.

Grow With Us! School At Home or Homeschooling

Living & Learning Outside of the Home

Outside of the coronavirus pandemic, homeschoolers are able to get out in the world and learn with others.  Homeschooling families aren’t necessarily home all day, every day of the week.  Homeschooled children take classes with other kids, get together with friends, and have homeschool field trips and outings together.  So much education takes place outside of the family’s home!  Although homeschool families are generally home more than the typical institutional school family, homeschool families do get out and live and learn with the rest of the world.  Even true homeschool families can feel a bit stir crazy during the coronavirus pandemic!

Live & Learn Your Way! HomeSchool ThinkTank!

Public School At Home Video Isn’t Quite Homeschooling

While this video is entertaining, it’s what doing public school at home looks like. This is NOT the same as homeschooling.

Doing public school at home is quite different from real homeschooling. If you’re interested in true homeschooling, then visit our Start Homeschooling section.

Add Your Ideas to This List

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the differences between homeschooling and doing public, private, or charter school at home.  Hopefully, this article has shed some light on the differences between true homeschooling and school at home during the coronavirus pandemic. If your children have been doing school-at-home and it’s been rough, please understand that true homeschooling is very different.

If you’ve been thinking about truly homeschooling your children, please check out our Start Homeschooling section.

Is Homeschooling Right For Your Family?

If you need help deciding if homeschooling is the right choice for your family, then read or listen to THINK HOMESCHOOL: Live & Learn Your Way.

A Note From the Author

Hi! I’m Jackie & I’m the host of the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast. I’m certain that many parents are enjoying this time with their kids.  On the other hand, other parents are probably feeling a little more middle of the road, and some may be absolutely done with doing school at home! 

When my children were young, I followed the school-at-home model of homeschooling to-the-letter.  You know what?  It didn’t work out so well for us. I believe that when homeschooling parents follow the school-at-home model, it might be the quickest way to burnout and sending their kids back to school.  So, please take it easy on yourself and your kiddos.

Recognize that there are a many different ways for kids to learn and be educated.  Quite frankly, I don’t believe the school-at-home model is overly effective for homeschool families. If you’re open to questioning much of what our society considers to be true about education, then this article and podcast episode might interest you.

Homeschooling Isn’t About School

Are you ready to learn a secret that we homeschoolers already know?  Homeschooling isn’t about school. It’s about family, community, education, and learning. Homeschooling is a lifestyle – it’s a way of living

Homeschoolers have a completely different environment and set of circumstances than schools.  And right now, if you are a parent who is doing school at home, you also have a different set circumstances and a different environment than the schools. 

Give yourself some grace.  Consider prioritizing your Connection Before Curriculum. Enjoy this time connecting with your kids – and while you’re at it, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back!

Connection Before Curriculum

Share This Article & Podcast Episode

I hope you read this article from beginning to end, otherwise it would be easy to misconstrue this message. If you are a veteran homeschool family, hopefully you’re saying, “Yes – that’s what I was thinking.”  If so, would you please share this article?

If you are doing school at home during COVID-19, I applaud your effort.  I can’t imagine making the sudden transition from going to school each day to suddenly doing school at home. 

I also understand if you’ve been calling ‘school at home’ – homeschooling.  I get it – you feel like you’re homeschooling – this has been a huge transition for you. Also, the word ‘homeschooling’ certainly rolls off the tongue easier than the words ‘school-at-home.’ 

Is doing school at home the same thing as homeschooling? 

The short answer is NO. 

Do I have compassion, respect, and empathy for families who are doing school-at-home during COVID-19?  ABSOLUTELY – YES!

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