Have you thought about homeschooling your children? Ever wondered about changing your education choice, from school to home education? Often, community jargon can be hard to understand. This homeschool guide aims to explain common terms.

Homeschool Guide; First Steps


This means taking your child out of school. Leave immediately, if it’s an English mainstream school. Write a letter to the headteacher. Tell them your child is now home educated and that they need to remove your child from the school register.

In Scotland, or if attending a special school, you need consent to withdraw. Contact the local authority before taking your child out of school.


The time between taking your child out of school and settling into your new routine. Often, people quote, “one-month deschooling per year of school.” In reality, no actual limit exists. Take as long or as little as you need to adjust.

Parents often find that deschooling helps them more than their kids. Old school days give parents fixed ideas about educational success. Letting go of these ideas can be hard. Children adapt to freedom and flexibility with greater ease.

Homeschool Guide; Education Types

Some people call it home education, homeschooling or elective home education. In truth, the legal English term is otherwise. It’s from Section 7 of the Education Act 1996. (The Scottish term is other means.)

Structured Education

Any education with a structured framework. For example, workbooks and online schools or programs. Some families have a homeschool classroom or fixed timetables. Many others do not. The key element is education with a measurable outcome.

Often, there’s a curriculum. Not always a government curriculum; some parents like to devise their own versions. Sometimes, parents buy boxed curricula or students attend online schools. But, you don’t need expensive school courses. A structure is accomplishable on a shoestring budget.

The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’ – Maria Montessori


Also known as autonomous education or child-led learning. It happens through everyday life and following the child’s interests. Some people call it consensual living. A structure is only used if the child requests it.

It’s wrong to suppose that unschoolers do not study or use structure. Unschoolers learn all the time, as they do not separate studies from everyday life. Sometimes, students may request tutors or choose to study for exams. The sole rule is that it is the child’s choice.

Radical Unschooling

An extreme type of unschooling. Fuses an education method with a parenting style. Most important is the lack of arbitrary rules. At the end of the day, the kids control all parts of their own lives.

Eclectic Education

Also called relaxed education. It’s a mix of two or more types or styles.

Homeschool Guide; Education Variants

Your education type is either structured, unschooling or relaxed. But, your education method can be further classified into specialised variants.


Sometimes, it’s mistaken for a reduced timetable school attendance. But, it’s actually part-time school with homeschooling the rest of the time.

Alas, not all schools will consent to flexible arrangements. It’s at the consent of each headteacher. Thus, you may need to approach a few different schools to find one that agrees. Common arrangements are mornings and afternoons or a 3/2 day split.¬†Hollinsclough Academy is an example of a school offering flexible attendance.


Home education while travelling or otherwise in another country. If travel is ongoing, some more compound classifications include roadschooling and boatschooling. But, the key part is being away from your home country while homeschooling.


To be honest, this term is new to me. As with most compound descriptors, it’s a recursive reference. It’s the use of games as the main education resource.

You could use traditional board games or modern electronic games. For example, Scrabble* is a traditional board game. It needs lots of spelling practice for successful completion. These days, most children are familiar with Minecraft; an open-ended sandbox electronic game. Minecraft* requires strategy, teamwork, Mathematics and a range of other skills.


In brief, this is not an actual home education variant. It is sometimes confused with homeschooling because of the naming convention. In actuality, it refers to any extracurricular studies outside a student’s full-time education. So, both school children and homeschooled children may do this type of activity. Usually, it’s intensive coaching for music, sports or exam prep.

Homeschool Guide; Education Methods

There are lots of education methods. Common ones include Charlotte Mason, Steiner Waldorf, and Montessori. Less common are FIAR (Five in a Row), Trivium, and Reggio Emilia.

Mason, Montessori & Steiner

Dr Maria Montessori created the popular Montessori method. Within fixed study blocks of about 3 hours, students choose their own activities from a set range. Child-sized resources, including classroom furniture, help encourage early independence.

Charlotte Mason was a British teacher. Her method focuses on reading, handwriting, Arts and nature studies. She thought that the educational environment was very important. Most of all, lessons are short until kids grow older and have longer attention spans. Twenty-minute chunks are ideal for the very young.

Therefore, the selection of their first lesson-books is a matter of grave importance. Because it rests with these to give children the idea that knowledge is supremely attractive and that reading is delightful.
– Charlotte Mason

Rudolph Steiner is the namesake of the Steiner Waldorf method. Focuses on creative play and Arts, along with teaching independent thought. This is a very marmite method; you love it or hate it.

FIAR, Reggio Emilia & Trivium

Five in a Row is book based. As the name suggests, you read the same book for five days in a row. Aimed at preschoolers and the first year or two of primary school. Unlike many methods, a home educator created Five in a Row.

Trivium is a type of classical education. It focuses on three areas: grammar, logic and rhetoric. It’s rare in the UK.

Reggio Emilia is as close to unschooling as a structured method can get. Teachers are co-learners or work partners, encouraging students to express themselves. There is a large focus on the Arts, so, an artistic study environment is essential.

Unit Studies & Lapbooks

Unit studies are project-based programmes of study. Can be long or short and are cross-curricular by nature. Because of this, it’s usual to cover lots of subjects within one unit study.

Lapbooks are a type of unit study. Short in length, they focus on a single topic. Using a tri-fold display or repurposed folder is a common way of creating a lapbook. Inside the lapbook, the student will glue or write some facts. You can add pictures, notes and pockets of flashcards too.

How much education jargon did you already know? I hope this homeschool guide has made it easier for you to explore home education!