Online School: How is it Different from Homeschooling?


With terms like online school, homeschool, school from home, roadschool, homeschool programs, and plenty more circling around, it can be tricky to determine the exact differences between these education options. To put your mind at ease, we're outlining the clear distinctions between homeschooling and online school.

What is homeschool?

Parents are often the decision-makers in their child's education, and homeschooling came about when parents decided to take their children out of their traditional brick-and-mortar school and educate their children at home. Oftentimes, homeschool parents take on the role of teacher, counselor, and administrator.

A parent of a homeschooler is in charge of their child's learning environment, schedule, curriculum, extracurriculars, and providing enough opportunity for social interaction. In some states, homeschooling parents are legally required to hire teachers.

For a successful homeschooling experience, parents should provide structure and use their familiarity with their child's learning style to determine curriculum, scheduling, and instruction methods. For example, if your child was struggling with math in the traditional classroom, you should approach it differently at home. Although, don't be discouraged if it doesn't stick right away. New homeschool parents often go through several rounds of trial and error--even if they're equipped with the right amount of research and preparation tools.

Homeschooling may prove challenging for parents and their students. It requires responsibility and dedication, so it may not be an education option for all families. With that being said, there are other options out there to ensure your child receives a well-rounded education.

So…what is K–12 online school?

Online schools are not homeschool. Here's where the confusion may occur: online school, also referred to as school from home, is a homeschooling alternative. It's also not an online homeschool curriculum.

Parents buy online homeschool curriculums to supply their children with learning and testing materials. Online homeschool programs/curriculums are not a school and do not have teachers--parents still remain as their student's instructors. Online school students, on the other hand, have teachers and counselors who are not their parents—and will graduate from the school receiving a high school diploma.

Plus, like your traditional brick-and-mortar schools, public school and online private school options exist. Online private schools require tuition, and some online private and public schools are accredited to ensure they meet quality standards of education. Online homeschool programs/curriculums are not accredited since they are not schools.

How online school works

In the wake of COVID-19, traditional schools transitioned to virtual learning and still adhered to the standard school schedule with live instruction via zoom. This is called synchronous learning. However, most (but not all) school-from-home options approach learning with asynchronous courses which allow students to learn through course materials at any time of the day. This flexible mode of learning asks students to be self-disciplined, but it gives them the power to balance their busy everyday lives without sacrificing their education.

Parents of online schoolers are referred to as learning coaches. They are not as involved as homeschooled students' parents are, but they should keep an eye on their child to ensure they're progressing through their course.

School from home with Laurel Springs School

Laurel Springs is an online private school accredited in the United States by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and Cognia. With more than 30 years of experience in online learning, our school has empowered students to pursue their academic and personal interests. 

Laurel Springs has faculty, teachers, and counselors who are accessible digitally. Students remain in contact with their teacher or counselor via email or during virtual office hours.

Additionally, if you’re worried your child will "miss out" on the social opportunities students have in public school, Laurel Springs offers engaging social opportunities. Students can go on field trips, join in-person events, participate in graduation or prom, and more. There are even student clubs and extracurricular activities available.

Enroll at almost any date throughout the school year with our rolling admissions! Learn more by signing up for a virtual open house today.