Homeschool vs Virtual School at Home~They are not the same.

There is a new generation of homeschoolers out there, or that is what they call themselves. However, what they are doing, is jeopardizing the work that HSLDA and Homeschool Legal Advantage have done for the Homeschool movement. I didn’t understand the extent of the problem until last night, and now, I am quite concerned. I agree with the groups who say those using public school programs in home, should not be protected by or a part of HSLDA or other homeschool organizations working to preserve the legalities of real, parent involved homeschool.

Please note, when I say homeschool or homeschooler I am referring to independent homeschool parents, also known as traditional homeschooling…those who purchase their curriculum from someone other then the public or privately owned charter or virtual school.  Public school refers to government run schools, whether virtual, charter or in a public classroom. Virtual School and Charter school refers to those schools which are run and or operated and funded by public schools which are funded by tax dollars.

You are protected already by the Virtual Public School. Your children are registered in a public school. You are not considered a homeschooler. The government is involved in your child’s education, whereas homeschooling has no government involvement within the home…
If you were homeschooling, and using homeschool curriculum that you picked out, paid for, and didn’t purchase from a public school or charter school, then you are not involving the government and would need HSLDA for protection. The online public schools are just school at home…

What I found when visiting with a few of the parents using these virtual schools in my area, is:

1.  They are NOT interested in learning about other options.

2.  They like the ease. No planning, hardly any grading and little involvement.  Essentially, they just want their child out of the classroom, but don’t want to take on the responsibility to educate their children.

These virtual schools, are essentially teaching the same thing they would in a public school.  READ THAT AGAIN…

Many of us who are homeschooling want to be sure to teach things from a Christian perspective, these virtual schools are NOT doing that.

What about Privately run virtual schools?  Still…not the same as homeschool.  You may get a better Christian Perspective taught to your children, but…still it is not what you may want taught.  In most homeschools, parents hand pick, go through the lessons first and work VERY hard to be sure their children are receiving a quality, morally, and ethically sound education.  In the typical Christian homeschool, they are also sure to be teaching from a Biblically sound perspective.

Why do I care?  The hard work that many have spent making sure that we have the freedom to pick and choose what we teach and to even keep our children home is in jeopardy.  Homeschool publishers and companies are facing a financial crunch as they loose customers to the “free government “homeschool candy””.

Oh, and about those computers and curriculum that they are handing out to those of you using these Charters and Virtual academies…umm, nothing but candy and just as healthy,,, or should I say unhealthy.  Welcome Big Brother into your home…Big Brother in the form of government spies…

Also, the school running that charter or virtual school is getting a lot of money because you are using it.  That is how they afford to give you that “candy”.  My tax dollars are being used to educate your child who is HOME.  Your tax dollars are not being used to educate my children who ARE HOME.  See the difference?

Want to see a few facts about this:


I have heard many of the  reasons many are using these.

To help them get started.  Find a support network who is homeschooling and can help hold your hand and guide you.

Don’t have time to make plans and research…umm, do you really have time to have your children home then?

Makes it easy~Do we always want to show our children the easy way?  Because, umm, being a Christian is not the easy way?

Only option my family believes is ok~umm, find a new family?  No, but, educate them of the options available

Special needs~uhh, many of us educate our children with special needs, there are awesome support groups around the country, online and so much more.  Check my sidebar for links.  Winking smile

I believe there are times that the virtual school or charter school may be helpful for a parent wanting to keep their children home.  However, there needs to be a line drawn to separate and make know that using a virtual or charter school is not homeschool.  Calling the two the same is giving homeschool up to the government, opening doors for laws that will mean less options in choices of the curriculum we use.  I believe it is also the parents choice to choose what they use and what works for their family.  Again, calling the virtual or charter schools homeschool will in the future lead to jeopardizing this freedom as the government’s free candy is going to be more likely to become more popular in an economic crisis…

In the end, this is a real threat that TRUE homeschoolers need to pay attention to.  Our state organization that works hard at keep us safe is really struggling with this issue.  Get on board and make a difference, a difference so your children will have the freedom to home educate.  The future of home education is going to be a lot different if we don’t stand up to the Government.

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  1. Agatha says:

    Even if you’re agnostic, or an atheist, you should still homeschool your children!!!

  2. Thank you for your article. We are in the process of withdrawing from our online charter school and are very much looking forward to being a home school family. Our state is very home school friendly so we are blessed.

    We joined the online charter school more than 2 years ago, and it has been far superior than local district school. There is some flexibility and the kids can test out of things they already know. The curriculum is wonderful.

    But I can’t handle another day of it. Lately, it’s felt like an intrusion in our home. It dictates how I interact with my children, calls me a “learning coach” instead of a parent. So I nag the kids to get their lessons done. It saps the enjoyment of being a mom to my precious children. Since it’s a charter school–tax funded, the standardized testing is very important. And since online schools get derided by teachers’ unions (I don’t like them either), the online charter schools need to look good, so we have lots and lots and lots of practice tests to prepare.

    Online charter schools are definitely not home school. Though my friends and relatives, who are pro conventional government run school people, think that it is home school. They just can’t think outside the box.

    Since making the decision to home school, we’ve done a little of it for a few days, my kids are thrilled. They’re so excited to learn what they are interested in. My oldest was identifying leaves in the park and another child woke up this morning painting Chinese calligraphy that she learned from a library book. Then of course she painted her hand and had fun with that. I’m a happy mom.

    And our state does not require home school students to take standardized tests. We are not beholden to teach to the test. And it’s because our legislators know the stats that home school students are on or above grade levels. And that 25% of public school students don’t graduate.

  3. I have seven children, my first son attended Christian school and the five other’s attended public school. I have special needs children as well biological, step, foster and adopted. We recently took in a young pregnant mom and she is doing the virtual schooling because she doesn’t want to be seen pregnant in school.

    I do feel for families that are strapped for money but still home school. We couldn’t afford that option and frankly I wouldn’t be the best teacher with these kids all day. All of them have RAD and the break I get from them during the school day helps keep me going for the long haul. I allowed my pregnant foster daughter to choose the schooling that she thought she would be most successful with.

    Personally, I believe my tax dollars pay for her to school at home. I doubt that I need your tax dollars to pay my childs way. We pay for all kinds of things with our tax dollars such as jails/prisons,roads and so on.

    Best wishes to whatever schooling you decide to do.

  4. So? I fully agree that parents should be able to educate their children the way they feel is best. But some of us are just not capable of independently homeschooling our children. So “virtual school” or as in my case Distance Education which is pretty much the same thing, is a good option for some. It educates the child while protecting them from harmful association at school. As for the Christian perspective, well it is the responsibility of all parents, homeschooling or not, to educate their children in God’s word.

  5. For the lady who commented that some of our taxes go toward the school district whether we send our kids there or not. Some of our taxes go toward birth control and abortions, whether we participate in them or not. Some of our taxes go toward buying methadone, as a so-called treatment for drug addictions, whether we participate in that or not. We are told by Jesus to render to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar, to to God what belongs to God. Our taxes belong to the government to use as they will (yes, we can have a say with our voting, lobbying, etc. but ultimately, we don’t have the final say) But my children do not belong to the government and I will not be handing them over to them, nor accepting their “free” education, whether in a classroom, or in my diningroom.
    I also have special needs children. Yes, it is an added expense, but I have found that the God who blessed me with these children can and does supply for their needs! Early on, we participated in Early Intervention and had so-called professionals coming in to do therapies. For the most part, they did not do anything that we do not do naturally as a family with our young children. Also, some of the info they gave us was incorrect, and some of the things we are still have to un-teach, as they were very detrimental to learning!
    I have been homeschooling since 1994 and have always said the best place for a child to learn is in the home, with the loving parents that God has placed them with, not strangers, paid for by the government, that really does not have any love for our children. I am more convinced than ever, after having children with special needs, that this is true! Why would I want to put my child into an institution that is operated by the very people (the government) that would have paid to have him killed before he was even born due to him having T21? And then expect them to love and care for him?? That sounds a bit mentally unbalanced to me!
    I know this is a blog entry regarding virtual schooling. But it is the same, just different location! Same people are in control of your child’s learning. Just another way of drawing our children back to them so they do not miss out on the federal grant money, that our taxes pay.
    We do have accountability, in our state, we are required to have yrly evals and testing in grades 3,5 & 8. Even if we did not, we are accountable to God for our children’s education.

  6. Ourhearts4home says:

    I understand that feelings can get hurt if one person says something they are doing isn’t good or right. So I hope that we can set defensiveness aside and look at the real pros and cons of virtual schools at home. My feeling? I won’t stand in judgement over how another family choses to homeschool. That said, I don’t think it is God’s BEST option. I believe it really does put our freedoms at risk. I get my information from HSLDA who has fought for hsing freedoms for years. They have sounded the warning alarm that this is in fact a way to lose the freedoms we have right now. Public schools monitor the virtual schools and then start wondering why they don’t monitor every homeschool, and so it goes. I don’t want to see our freedoms to school how we see best be lost because ps’s need enrollment and have joined with hsers to do it.

    My other problem with bringing the ps’s into our homes is more of a spiritual one. I feel that God told our family to teach our children, that He gives us the wisdom and ability to do it, and that the world’s system isn’t going to do His way justice. It’s like going back to Egypt for me. I want to break from the system and just dig into God’s Word and lean on Him to let me know how to teach and what to teach. It’s easy to return to Egypt because most of us were raised there, and we go to what we know. But to me this is being unequally yoked, joining with a system created by man for man and not asking God “What is education?” I hope I’m making some sense. I really am not trying to pass judgement or cause hard feelings, but I’d just say look at both sides of the argument and ask God what His way is for your family.

  7. I really am not sure where to start, I do want to understand where the debate is coming from, but I feel the facts are not complete. If this was a face to face conversation or you really knew me you would know I am being sincere and not trying to just argue, but to fully understand and be understood.
    First of all some of the taxes we pay go to the school district whether or not we send our kids to a public school, so why should we as parents not take advantage of this money we are helping to provide?
    I know there are all kinds of programs out there and they are all done a little differently, so speaking of the 2 different parent partnership programs, here in WA state, I have been a part of I have always used whatever curriculum I wanted and it has always been faith based curriculum. The district of course won’t pay for my faith based curriculum choice, but they do pay for other things that we would not otherwise be able to do.
    As far as testing and parent choices as long as you know your rights you can make your decisions based on those rights, this year we will be doing what is called MAP testing and we will be doing it online. I look at this as a great way to keep track of the progress we are making and to make sure we are not missing areas of importance. Just as I could if my kids were going to a public school I could say no, I will not be doing any testing, but I see no harm in taking an assessment test.
    I feel very sorry for parents new to teaching their kids at home when the crowd of people jump all over their case and tell them they are not homeschooling just because they are partnering with a school to get the job done the best way they know how for their family. If you look up the definition of homeschool you will see that any one who “teaches school subjects to their child at home” is by definition a homeschooler. Maybe the government is going to try to twist these partnerships in ways that are not what we want, but wouldn’t it be better to be banded together supporting each other in a movement we believe in then to let them come in and conquer and divide us. The government and the rules they make are up to us to change, it is not our place to tell people they should not do what they think is best for their child because we fear our government and what they might do in the future.
    Just like a cookie is a cookie because of what it is not how you make it or what you put into it. Why cannot the definition lye in the fact that some homeschool independently and some homeschool via a virtual school or homeschool via a parent partnership program.
    Sincerely, Shirley

    • i think the thing we have to keep in mind is that we *Legally* do not meet the definition of homeschooling, and try not to take that personally, which i know is hard when we have given up so much in order to BE there teaching our children!

      Also as our family has been through trial heaped upon trial, and this is how God has chosen to bless our family, i feel like I have no right to judge that, I know this is how God is helping us, and I’m ok with that, but i think that’s largely due to being humbled, massively by our life’s circumstances. I think maybe its hard for folks to always remember that EVERYTHING they have is a gift from God, and none of it is guaranteed. The Lord Giveth and the Lord taketh away, and its all good! He’ll always provide for our needs, but sometimes He does that via the government, which is hard on the pride. Its SO EASY, and i say this from experience, to get on the high horse and say, “Well, MY FAMILY has paid for ALL our curriculum, and I don’t want to pay for YOURS TOO, with my taxes!” while not keeping in mind that none of that belongs to you! EVERYTHING you have is the Lord’s. its not by your own righteousness that you’ve “earned” it, its not your own doing. But its REALLY easy to feel like it is. I’m not judging here, i totally get it.

  8. Ouch! some harshness going on here! i have to say, and i know i’m going to get flamed right on outta here 🙂 Its ok- i can take it! That I disagree wholeheartedly, and not because everything that you’ve said is untrue, just that its not ALWAYS true, and you are making inaccurate generalizations.

    Some of it is speculative, so it may or may not be inaccurate, but i have to say, as one who has been with a virtual school for the last 4 years, much of what you are saying just is NOT true, at least with our virtual school. I think the most common ones are through a particular curriculum provider, like K12, Calvert, etc. Both of which i think are excellent curricula, but i could never do them straight, in a school at home way. We are in WA and there are several virtual schools which allow you to purchase a wide variety of curricula, and yes, while they won’t purchase Bible curricula or Bible based curricula, we can still use it. My homeschooling (and yes, while it is technically virtual schooling, i will continue to call it homeschooling!) has changed very little from when we independently homeschooled (the first 7 years) to the last 4 years we’ve been with a virtual school. I think there is good and bad about it, and while I think we are pretty spoiled here in WA, i’ve not heard of other states with as much leeway as here, its not reasonable to make across the board statements such as were made in this post. We buy most of our curricula from timberdoodle, a small local business, we teach from a Biblical worldview and have complete control over that, the only difference is I report what we are learning about each month and the children make contact with a supportive advisory teacher each week.

    We chose VS for financial reasons and its helped us keep our children mainly home, though we have 2 in PS this year. But particularily with children with special needs, what you miss in the assessment of why we might use a VS is that while yes, there are support groups locally, having a special needs child is ENORMOUSLY expensive. I have 3 on the autistic spectrum, 2 with as of yet undetermined learning disabilties, one of whom is VERY severe, and 2 typically developing. And we are eeking by, BARELY. the VS has made it possible for us to be able to homeschool. and for a lot of other people makes it not only possible but opens up a wide variety of learning experiences that they might not otherwise be able to afford.

    As for the idea, that i find truly bizarre, that somehow using virtual schools will take away our homeschooling freedom- the exact opposite is proving true here in WA- the legislature, in search of “accountablity” is tightening their reigns on virtual schools, presumably out of a desire to push us back into independent homeschooling, which they don’t need to budget for. As long as your state has solid laws on the books regarding homeschooling specifically, like WA does, it would take a pretty serious legislative push, and a LOT of extra funding, to make homeschooling illegal.

    Here is a blog post by a good friend of mine about a similar VS

    • Thanks for the great link, CVA is the program we are currently using and since we pay for our own BJU Press Curriculum it leaves a lot of allotment for other things like comunity based instructors, and as your friend says it does keep us motivated to get work done, I’m glad to hear I am not the only one who needs that motivational boost.

  9. I so wish that homeschooling had more official support here in England, there are so many obstacles to overcome. We have a paucity of church schools in our area and many places are snapped up by non religious families who buty homes close to good faith schools to the detriment of the community. We are trying to home school but it is not easy over here.

  10. Tell it, sister! Most of the people I know that have been tempted with the “free candy” did not last more than a year with virtual schooling.
    I love the flexibility of homeschooling. If my kids get excited about a subject, we can put our regular curriculum on hold and explore.

  11. Hey Betty,

    I agree with most of what you say – inparticular about legal ramifications of HS; protection of individual rights to homeschool.
    But just like any method of learning, you get out what you put in. The curriculum of our VS allows me to focus on my childs challenges, and THAT is a major reason we chose this….ok and I’d go off on a tangent quite easily and might miss a major development milestone (hidden fear, might not happen).

    I can teach both my kids with the benefits of both -public school structure and homeschool freedom flexibility and FUN!

  12. Brave Betty! That’s what I’m gonna call you girl! lol Good for you! =)
    This can become a heated topic…SO quickly…and because it is so controversial, people have just stopped discussing it. In the meantime the virtual schools have been quietly taking over the local home school support groups and using them to further promote these programs. I have seen this done with my own eyes.In order to KEEP private home education and option ALSO, we must keep the two options separate! Distinction between virtual charter schools and homeschooling is vital.

    Another great link on the topic is HSLDA page

    • Hi Tina Marie,

      Thanks for the extra link. I have added it to the post. 😉 Also, thank you for your encouragement. I appreciate it, and also realize I am likely to be “raked over the coals”.

      I believe it is the parents choice as to what they use, but if using these Virtual and Charter Schools, they should not be considered homeschoolers, home educators or other such related name.

  13. I have had friends here in SC try that. They thought the “free” supplies was a great way to help them pay for homeschooling. After a few months, they had decided it was not for them. It is set up for failure. As 1 mother put it, they have the subjects & times set up where there is NO flexibility and there is no way to finish the lessons the WAY they DEMAND you do them. The mothers told me how they met with the person in charge of it for the school district telling them about a problem with the curriculum. They were told, “you need to leave that to the experts.” A few months later, a letter demanding that everyone now change the curriculum because the “experts” decided it was better (what the mothers were saying in the first place)

    Everyone I have talked to has told me it is a disaster. When asked why they didnt just quit, I was told they were afriad of legal trouble threatened by the school district. The families waited until summer & went back to homeschooling their way. I NEVER suggest this. If you are going to do a “virtual school” do NOT, I repeat, do NOT go through the school district. You get what you pay for.

  14. I had no idea about the existence of virtual schools! :O I think that you guys -doing homeschooling- are just great! I really belivet hat homeschooling only can be done by putting 150% of your heart into it.

  15. Homeschooling is the best for me. My kids are enjoying it and it’s more “handy” and you can guide them thoroughly.

  16. Yes. It drives me nuts when I hear someone say “Oh, I homeschool for free, because the government pays for ours.” Then it’s not free, and it’s not homeschool, now is it? You’re taking money from taxpayers, including other homeschoolers, to do what you have a responsibility to do for yourself. And then you’re pretending you’ve done something about your kids’ education just by keeping them home?

    One of my primary reasons for homeschooling is that I don’t feel I have a right to make others pay for my children. And yes, I resent being made to pay for other people’s children as well, especially since the product we’re paying for is such an inferior one.

    If these people are statistically included amongst homeschoolers in the future, they’re going to drag down our stellar academic record, too. Public school is the problem! Why on earth would you invite them into your home that way?

    • (Not that I wouldn’t help pay for other people’s kids with whatever meager funds I have if they politely asked me to *contribute*, rather than holding a government gun to my head to do it.)

  17. Great post,this is very informative,now I know why the home school and virtual school is different.

  18. Great article! I am so with you on this. I am not against those who choose to do the school at home, but we as homeschoolers need to take a stand, as this is giving the school districts too much power to lie and try to take advantage of the homeschool population. We seen this becoming a huge problem in our State, thankfully our legislature and Governor, cracked down on the schools and established very strong restrictive laws making it a complete division between homeschoolers and virtual schoolers. They are not homeschooling as you say, they are just following the public or private school just doing it at home. They should not be covered under the same protection as we homeschoolers are.

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