Homeschooling vs. Distance Learning: What’s the Difference?


I can't tell you how many times I saw people complaining on Facebook toward the end of the school year about how much they hated homeschooling. But upon further reading, they talked about how stressful the zoom meetings were or how they didn't understand what the teacher was expecting or couldn't figure out the assignments.

This isn't homeschooling. It's distance learning. And the two are VERY different.

Distance learning is any form of remote learning where the student is not present at school but is being taught through communication with the school/teacher. Correspondence courses are a typical form of distance learning. They typically grade the assignments and keep track of all their grades.

Homeschooling is when a parent or other caregiver is physically present in the home and actively teaching the student. It is HOME education and the biggest difference is that the caregiver (usually a parent) is the primary educator.

Oh, sure, homeschoolers can take online courses or even attend classes outside the home (in a co-op, or at a museum/zoo/gallery, etc.). In fact, most homeschoolers have very active schedules outside the home. For example, last year, in addition to his school work at home, my homeschooled 14 yo had Civil Air Patrol meetings on Tuesday nights, taekwondo classes on Wednesday mornings, and we attended a homeschool co-op on Fridays where he took Texas History, World Geography, Drawing, and Spanish. When it was closed because of COVID, he finished the first two classes on Zoom.

But the difference is that I remained his primary teacher, overseeing all of his classes, teaching the majority, making sure that he completed assignments for all of his classes, and keeping track of all his grades. His main schooling was done at home.

Many of you are thinking about keeping your kids home this fall. And you are thinking about how your kids are going to learn.

If you enroll your child in an online program (a public school course that teaches everything), then you'll be doing distance learning.

If you yourself, buy a curriculum that you will teach or help teach and you are keeping track of your child's assignments and grades, then you will be homeschooling.

To be clear, even if you have a high schooler, who can pretty much do most of the work on their own, you'll still be homeschooling if you are keeping track of grades and assignments and oversee their transcript (even if you have someone else put it together).

I hope this clears everything up!

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