The Homeschool Glossary
A Directory of Homeschool Terminology
for the Totally Confused
Umbrella School (or Cover School)
Refers to a private school that provides a legal way for parents to homeschool
their children. Parents who enroll their children in an umbrella school usually
take responsibility for their child's education by developing a course of study,
providing curriculum, and complying with all of the education requirements.
The Umbrella School complies with the legal requirements of the state including
filing annual forms (if needed), keeping attendance, maintaining student records,
etc. Some of these schools have additional requirements including testing. Some
also offer counseling and coaching along with field trips, co-op classes, and
enrichment programs such as sports, music, drama, and other electives. You'll
find information on umbrella/cover schools by state and country
This method of instruction allows students to learn about all subjects through
the study of one topic. For example a unit study about Egypt might include language
arts through reading Egyptian-themed literature or history, writing a story about
an Egyptian Pharaoh, learning about archaeology or hieroglyphics through investigating
Egyptian pyramids, listening to Egyptian music, eating Egyptian food, checking out
Egyptian artifacts at a museum, etc.
There are lots of variations on this theme as families tweak it to suit their
individual interests and needs. You can purchase unit study curriculum or create
A term coined by John Holt, an educator who in the 1960s and 1970s spoke out
about school reform, and finally abandoned the idea that schools were a good
idea at all.
Originally, the term simply meant the act of not going to school. Holt believed
that true learning only happens when it is desired by the learner. He taught that
following the child's natural curiosity about life would lead to learning about
every subject typically required by schools and more. He saw parents not as
instructors, but as facilitators of their children's learning.
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