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Parent Prep - Glossary of Home Schooling Terms

What is the Difference between Home-Based School and Home-Education? Joining a group of home schooling parents for a playdate with kids and parental conversation can leave a new or prospective home schooler perplexed with the jargon used. Here is a quick guide of definitions so you will know what they are talking about!

After-schooling: When the regular school program is supplemented by tutoring from outside sources or parents.

Aligned Program: A school planned, delivered and marked program that is delivered in the home but is totally responsible to Alberta Education by the school. Because the school is totally responsible for the home-based program, it must follow the mandated Alberta Program of Studies outcomes and approved curriculum materials. Same as home-based.

APS - Alberta Program of Studies (Outcomes): A detailed list of goals and outcomes that the student is expected to prove mastery of, and is sorted by Grade and subjects for grades Kindergarten to Grade 12. This is the ‘bible’ of outcomes for all students in all schools across Alberta, regardless of being private, public, French Immersion, charter, online, correspondence or home-based. The only exception is for traditional home schoolers who can teach whatever they wish.

Blended: A type of program where the school plans, delivers, teaches and marks at least half the subjects or 50 per cent of the program, taught to a child for grades 1 to 9. For grades 10 to 12, the school has to be responsible as above, for at least 20 per cent of the program. Because the school is responsible, the subjects taught must follow the Alberta Program of Studies outcomes and the program is governed by the Education Act. The portion not school responsible is called the Traditional Portion and the parent directed and responsible program is governed by the Home Education Regulations.

Board: A local or not-so-local private school, or school board in Alberta, that agrees to supervise and support the parent and child in the traditional home education program and/or the school directed portion of a blended program.

Correspondence: Paper-based courses that are directed by the school.

Curriculum: The materials, lessons, books, manipulatives, discussions, films, toys, items, textbooks, equipment, museums, computer games or devices used to teach an outcome.

Deschooling: The practice of letting children play and not imposing any academic program demands on children while they decompress and acclimate to the new reality of learning at home.

Diploma Exams: Mandatory exams set by Alberta Education that must be written by students seeking credit and marks in core Grade 12 subjects.

Eclectic Schooling: When the home education plan changes during the day, week or month depending on the needs of the parent and child.

Education Act: The rules, rights and responsibilities set forth for accredited schools and school boards by the Minister of Education and the Government of Alberta. Used to be called the “School Act” but now embraces learning outside of school walls, but still directed and delivered by certified teachers.

Education or Learning Plan (Ed Plan): The proposal written by a parent describing the goals, outcomes, curriculum and means of assessment of the child’s educational program for the current year. Can be one paragraph of intention or 20 pages of item-by-item learning outcomes. Not required when the school directs and delivers a portion of the blended program.

E-live, Blackboard, Elluminate, Webinars: Online courses that have a live component where the teacher and all the students gather at their respective home-based computers and work on a lesson over a software program such as blackboard or e-live. Similar to a live webinar. Some courses offer regular webinars and others offer help and tutoring on an as-needed basis.

Facilitator: An Alberta Education certified teacher that supports the home education program and provides advice and help if the parent needs it.

Funding: The reimbursement of receipts submitted to the school board for the purchase of curriculum in order to offset the cost of delivering the program.

Home-Based Education: A school responsible program that is planned, delivered and marked by an accredited Alberta school or school board. Same as Aligned. Just like a regular program delivered within a bricks and mortar school, but is usually delivered by correspondence or online from the school and can be worked on by the student at home.

Home Education: Generally considered the educational program in which the parent and student is responsible for. Also called the Traditional program. In society, is used more inclusively and is considered to be anything learned at home including online and correspondence courses.

Home Education Regulations (The Regs): The regulations entrenched within the Education Act that governs the rights and responsibilities of parents choosing to direct the education of their child.

Home Schooling: Anything educational done in the home instead of attending a school building. When Government statistical researchers count home schoolers, they only count home schoolers on a Traditional program. Online, correspondence, blended, aligned and home-based learners are not included, even if they spend most of their day at home because their program is delivered by a certified teacher, school and principal, and is considered to be “school.”

Online: A school delivered course that is either ‘live’ classes or text read on a computer screen online. Content is then tested via quizzes or exams, and student responses are either faxed in or delivered back to the school via an online dropbox.

Program: The type of education delivery method chosen by the parent. It can be totally parent responsible, which is Traditional, or totally school responsible which is aligned, online, correspondence, home-based, school-building school or a combination of both called blended.

Provincial Achievement Tests: Exams set forth by Alberta Education for grades 6 and 9. All Alberta students are encouraged to write the exams, but many families choose not to because of educational philosophy, or because the topics do not fit with what home educators have chosen to learn.

“Rescue” Families: When parents pull their children out of school mid-year and decide to home school, they are required to find a supervising school board that will offer help mid-year even though the school board will not get funding for those students until the next September 30th deadline.

Roam Schooling: When families travel and access a variety of course options including parent or school delivered.

Schedule of Learning Outcomes for Students Receiving Home Education Programs that do not Follow the Alberta Program of Study: A one-page list of goals and outcomes that traditional home education students need to accomplish by the end of Grade 12. In a Traditional program, a certified teacher will sign a certificate stating that the child has progressed toward these outcomes at the end of the year.

Self-Directed Program: A program that is delivered by a school, but the student is only allowed to choose their pace of learning by working ahead or taking breaks. The student is not allowed to choose content, assessment, delivery methods or materials.

Teacher: An Alberta Education certified teacher that plans, delivers, evaluates and marks an approved school board subject.

Traditional: The type of program that a parent and child undertake when home schooling. The Traditional program is one where the parent undertakes the full responsibility of providing an education for their child, either directly teaching their child, or allowing their child to learn by discovery, or by hiring someone else to teach their child. The Traditional program is governed by the Home Education Regulations, within the Education Act and the content, delivery, philosophy and assessment methods are chosen totally by the parent. Exams and curriculum are optional.

Unschooling: The educational philosophy of total student-directed learning that encompasses planning, content, materials, pace, delivery and evaluation. Also called interest-led, discovery learning, inquiry-based, delight-directed or child-led learning.

Visits: The certified teacher of a supervising school board comes out to visit the home education family twice per year (Fall and Spring) in order to provide support, supplies, encouragement and advice for the family on the home education program.

Judy, BA, CCFE, is a Certified Family Life Educator, conference speaker and a veteran unschooler of five children, three of which are currently in university. She provides webinars and workshops on all aspects of Education in Alberta and is writing her next book, To University from Unschooling: Explore the relevant, motivating and educational alternative to school and homeschooling due out in later 2014. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

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