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Homeschooling:  Glossary of homeschool terms and selected military terms

This glossary contains terms that are used by homeschoolers and by the military services.  Some subgroups used variations of the terms, or don't use them at all.  The terms are listed alphabetically, and the letters just below are linked to each section.  You can either scroll or click. 


Homeschooling terms are in black. 

Military terms are in green.



accountability: Being answerable for something you've done.  In the context of education, many non-homeschoolers use "accountability" to always mean accountability to the public or state for a child's education.  Homeschoolers, if they use the word, may mean accountability to the child who receives the education.

ACT: tests covering , mathematics, reading, and science, mathematics, reading, and science used by college admissions offices as one measure of the abilities of prospective students; originally
known as the American College Testing program



boxed curriculum: A home study program in which all lesson plans and books are provided by a distance-learning company.


Calvert school:  The oldest K - 8 distance-learning program for children in the United States. 

Charlotte Mason Education: Charlotte Mason was a 19th century educator who believed in hands-on study using many 'real' books instead of synthesized textbooks. A free online course of study is available at Ambleside Online.


classical curriculum: A course of study, often referred to as the 'trivium,' broken down into thirds during a child's school years. The first third is the 'fact' period, roughly equal to the elementary school years. The next is the 'logic' period, around the pre-teens and early teens, followed by the 'abstract' period. One example of this style is provided in the book, The Well Trained Mind.


CLEP College Level Examination Program

commonwealth: An autonomous, self-governing political unit voluntarily affiliated with the US.  The importance for military homeschoolers is that overseas assignments such as Guam and Puerto Rico are to commonwealths of the United States, and because of this local education laws are binding on military families assigned to these countries.

compulsory attendance: The time in a child's life in which he or she is required to attend some sort of school. The ages included in the years of compulsory attendance vary between states. Just because a child is five or six does not always mean that official homeschooling registration with the state is required. Be sure to check your states laws before you initiate any paperwork because once the child is in a system, then the compulsory requirements stay in place.

compulsory education: The states is the U.S. (Connecticut being a possible exception) do not have compulsory education laws, they have compulsory attendance laws. There is a difference.

Don't Let Compulsory Attendance Turn into Compulsory Education, Larry and Susan Kaseman, July/August 2005, Home Education Magazine

One of the most effective ways to deal with ... legal challenges is to explain that laws require attendance, not education. This column explores what compulsory school attendance laws actually require, why so many people fail to understand the distinction between compulsory attendance and compulsory education, and how homeschoolers and others can use this distinction.

contractors:  DoD-contracted employees who may be American, host-national, or third-country national nationals.  Contractors may be in a country under status of forces agreement auspices, but they are not DoD civilians.

co-op: A group of people who form a group in which they all participate both by paying for materials, and working to do whatever it is they've set out to do. In homeschooling terms, parents often teach classes, host meetings, or conduct field trips. Everyone takes turns so that no one is left with the entire job.

co-opt:  To assimilate.  The recent practice of aggressively for-profit businesses marketing their programs to the homeschooling community "as homeschooling," plus similar campaigns by state-funded distance learning providers, is seen by some homeschoolers as a means to "recapture" the homeschooling movement and bring homeschooling families, "back to the fold."

Newark Digital Academy, 26 August 2005, News and Commentary blog, Home Education Magazine


correspondence school: Schools that usually provide a full grade-level based curriculum in which students or their parents usually correspond with specific teachers.  Lessons are usually sent to the school for grading.

cover school:  An organization that enrolls children in support of their education at home.  Another name for umbrella school.

curriculum: A course of study.   There is no one set elementary-school or high-school curriculum for all fifty states.

cyber-schools: In its simplest meaning, an online school. Some of these schools are private, others are contracted with by states to provide 'public school at home' to families who want a public school education for their children, but don't want to send them to school. In the online homeschooling community, the schools can be controversial. In everyday, face-to-face homeschooling groups, the discussion is less volatile.


dependent: A spouse or child of a servicemember or of a DoD civilian stationed overseas.


  • General: positioning for battle; sending personnel and materiel to a desired operational area

  • Navy: change from cruising situation to battle situation

DoD civilian: A Federal civilian employee hired either with appropriated funds (AF) or non-appropriated funds (NAF).  Differences between AF and NAF benefits.

DDESS: Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools; a subactivity of DoDEA.  DDESS is the stateside equivalent of DoDDS.

deschooling: The decompression, both by children and their parents, during the adjustment period between attending organized school and homeschooling.    The dynamics of teaching in a classroom, and children learning at home, are different, and required different techniques and methods.

distance learning program: A company or school that provides learning materials for at-home schooling.  The school may, or may not, require that assignments be sent in to the school.


eclectic homeschooling:  A homeschooling style that uses styles and methods from many distinct styles of homeschooling.  Another way to put it is, "using what works."


economy: Living or shopping off the military installation. The phrase, "on the economy" is usually used overseas.

EFMP: Exceptional Family Member Program; program for family members with special-needs.

EFMS: Exceptional Family Member Services; services to family members with special-needs

EUCOM: European Command with headquarters at Patch Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany; a joint command for all the US military services in Europe

European Schools Council: DoDDS Europe Deputy Director and component commanders who review recommendations referred by DoDDS and EUCOM

exclusive support group:  A homeschool support group that limits the membership to people who share a common interest.  The most common kind of exclusive support group for homeschoolers is the "Christian" (denomination usually not indicated) group, which may require a statement of faith (SOF).



family advocacy: Program for dealing with child and spouse abuse.

family advocacy case management team: personnel involved in child abuse or spouse abuse cases.

  • AF term is Family Maltreatment Case Management Team

  • Navy and Marines term is Case Review Committee

  • Coast Guard term not defined at family advocacy site



Holt, John: John Holt (1923 - 1985) was a schoolteacher-turned-author who first hoped he could change the culture of schooling to be more child-friendly, but soon came to advocate do-it-yourself schooling by parents.



Home Education Magazine:  The oldest, and first, homeschooling magazine.


homeschool legal requirements:  Legal requirements (or not) for homeschooling that differ from state to state.

homeschooling:  A term for the education of children outside or an organized school.  Homeschooling may, or may not, be legally defined in a state's law.

Home School Legal Defense Association: conservative Christian non-profit corporation that sells memberships in its organization.  The organization does not sell legal insurance.

  • HSLDA application
    page 2, "Please note
    "B. Membership dues are not tax-deductible. HSLDA is not an insurance company and cannot guarantee legal representation in every situation."

host nation: A nation that has accepted the stationing of US troops and other members of the force within its borders.

HSLDA: Home School Legal Defense Association


inclusive support group:  A homeschool support group open to all members of the community.

individual sponsored dependent: A non-command sponsored dependent; a dependent in an overseas area who is not entitled to government transportation to or from the United States and who is in the host nation without the endorsement of the appropriate overseas military commander.

installation: any combination of military land and facilities. Various terms are: post, base, depot, barracks, airfield, air station, naval station, naval amphibious base, naval auxiliary landing field, annex or support site

interest-led learning: allowing children to pursue their own interests; unschooling


JAG: Judge Advocate General: the legal office

JFTR: Joint Federal Travel Regulations; basic statutory regulations concerning official travel and transportation of members of the Uniformed Services



KONOS:  A hands-on, unit-study type of curriculum emphasizing character development from a non-denominational biblical viewpoint.




manipulative:  Anything that can be handled, but the general meaning in terms of learning is something a child can manipulate in learning math, so that the abstract nature of the numbers or function that is being learned can be felt, seen or moved around.  My favorite manipulative was 15-bean soup because it is cheap, easily available at the commissary, no one gets too fussed if some of the beans go missing (although they do make a dreadful racket with the vacuum's beater bar), and if you get desperate, they can be rinsed off and cooked.  Other manipulatives are blocks, pattern blocks (such as tangrams), rulers, and rods (such as the Cuisinaire rods).  All those are inedible.

Montessori education:  A teaching method based on the works of Maria Montessori.



MWR: Acronym for Morale, Welfare and Recreation.  Usually just called "rec services" (in the Army).


NAEP: National Assessment of Educational Progress; "the nation's report card" since 1969; "NAEP does not provide scores for individual students or schools; instead, it offers results regarding subject-matter achievement, instructional experiences, and school environment for populations of students (e.g., fourth-graders) and subgroups of those populations (e.g., female students, Hispanic students). NAEP results are based on a sample of student populations of interest."

NAF: non-appropriated fund

NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization; a post-WWII alliance for the common defense of Europe against threats to national sovereignty by the USSR. The first document of NATO, the Treaty of Washington, was signed in 1949.

NCHE: National Center for Home Education; a division of the conservative Christian company, HSLDA

NHEN: National Home Education Network

no-fee passport: An official passport issued to DoD civilians and dependents for overseas travel.

not ordinarily resident: a person who live in a country temporarily and arrived with government travel orders; typically US citizens who are DoD, federal or military personnel, and their and family members, who are on the travel orders; other personnel having diplomatic privileges and immunities.


OCONUS: Outside the CONtinental United States

OPSEC: Operations security; minimizing vulnerability and the amount of information available to adversaries; "loose lips sink ships."

ops tempo: Frequency of operations.

ordinarily resident: living someplace as if you were an ordinary, permanent resident; a citizen of the host country or a citizen of another country who has shifted the main residency focus to the host country and has the required work and/or residency permit for employment in country overseas: all assignments outside the 48-contiguous states.


PCS: permanent change of station (change of permanent station); a move or transfer

permanent storage: long-term storage of household goods in the US during an overseas tour of duty

POA: power of attorney

power of attorney: A legal document allowing a person to specify someone else to handle his or her legal affairs on his or her behalf; the catch is that businesses are not required to honor the document and may decline to do so

POV: privately-owned vehicle; a car.

portfolio: A collection of examples about a child's learning.  This collection may include:  library checkout receipts, photographs of projects, drawings, musical recordings, ticket stubs from museums, plays or exhibitions, writing samples, certificates, awards, or anything else that indicates a child's activities.

PSAT:  Preliminary SAT 


quarters: A domicile; can be a house, an apartment, a barracks or a tent.


remote assignment: An  assignment to a military installation or other activity in the
United States for which military and civilian medical or dental facilities accessible to that installation are inadequate to support needs of assigned personnel or their families.  Also, being stationed at an installation a minimum of 50 miles or one hour of driving time from the nearest military


safe haven: area to which noncombatants of the United States Government's responsibility may be evacuated during an emergency

SAT: Tests in math and English used by college admissions offices as one measure of the abilities of prospective students.  Apparently the initials don't stand for any words.

Saxon math:  A series of arithmetic and mathematics books that were first written for elementary grade 4 and up by John Saxon.  Later authors then wrote arithmetic books for younger children.  The Saxon publishing company was later bought by the Harcourt company.

school-at-home: a homeschooling style resembling the structured, subject-divided style of public schooling school-in-a-box: also a colloquial term for a boxed curriculum or for a a self-made structured curriculum.


school liaison officer: "A member of a commander's staff who has demonstrated effectiveness, maturity and leadership as a military commissioned officer, an officer grade civilian, or a senior noncommissioned officer to serve as an installation school's officer. The school's officer shall function as a liaison between the school principal(s) and the Military Department installation staff, but shall not be assigned responsibility for any aspect of operating the school(s)."  See C1.4.3.13, DoD 1342.6-M

scope and sequence:  A term I never heard of until after my kids finished homeschooling, so you'd best look elsewhere for its meaning.

servicemember: a member of one of the military services to include Reserves and National Guard
services: one of the five military services: Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines or Navy

SLO: See: school liaison officer

SNAFU: Situation Normal All 'Fouled' Up; synonym FUBAR ('Fouled' Up Beyond All Recognition)

socialization:  A persistent worry of anyone who has never interacted with homeschooled kids who go more places and often do more things with people of all ages than do their schooled peers.

SOF:  See: statement of faith

statement of faith:  A statement of agreement with specific religious beliefs signed by members of a support group for the benefit of being allowed to attend meetings.  Often, the SOF isn't required to be a dues-paying member, but it is required for any leadership position.  In other words, they'll take your money and your work, but you don't have a voice.

SOFA: status of forces agreement; define areas of legal responsibility held by a host country over U.S. military personnel stationed within its borders

space-required: in reference to DoDDS enrollment, a required space for a command-sponsored military dependent

sponsor: Military member or DoD civilian with dependents

standardized tests:  These are tests that measure a child's knowledge in relation to the other kids who have taken the test (norm-referenced).  These tests do not measure absolute knowledge (such as a driver's exam does), but purposely ranks the test takers from best to worst.  Examples of such tests are the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the California Achievement Tests.


TAD: temporary attached duty

TDY: temporary duty

temps: overseas term for temporary quarters, not to be confused with guest house; fourth-floor walk-up quarters in overseas government apartment buildings; often formerly maids' quarters; may be either 2 bedroom or 8 bedroom

territory: an organized division of the US that is not a state and is administered by a governor and legislature

theater: a geographic military theater-of-operations such as
Europe or the Pacific.

textbooks:  Boring sanitized collections of too much information in too small of a space.

The S-word:  socialization

Tier system for military recruits:

  • Tier I Regular high school graduates, adult diploma holders, and non-graduates with at least 15 hours of college credit

  • Tier II Alternative credential holders, including those with a General Education Development (GED) certificate of high school equivalency

  • Tier III Those with no education credential

TMO: transportation movements office(r)

transcript: the record of a person's schooling; generally includes course names, whether or not the course was a lab, and the use of correct terminology in describing courses

Transportation: in reference to families the office(s) who handle the shipments of household good and hold baggage; AF term "TMO"

truancy: being absent without permission, usually from school.


UCMJ: See: Uniform Code of Military Justice

umbrella school: Organizations offering various ranges of help to families concerning home education.  Services can be as simple as 'bookkeeping' of grades and courses, on up to assistance from staff members, and course recommendations.  Services are not usually as comprehensive as those provided by a correspondence school or distance learning provider.

unaccompanied baggage: Express shipment or hold baggage sent overseas before a servicemember PCSes.

unaccompanied tour: An overseas assignment without the presence of dependents endorsed by the appropriate overseas military commander

Uniform Code of Military Justice: The portion of the US Code detailing the code of military criminal law applicable to all servicemembers

unit study: The themed study of an entire topic; a study of pencils might include a look at the manufacture of 'pencil lead,' the development of mechanical pencils, reading the essay, "I, Pencil My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read," a visit to a pencil factory, a collection of various kinds of pencils and a booklet written about pencils in pencil.

unschooling: A homeschooling style where the learner is allowed to decide what to learn and how much of it to learn. Upon hearing a description of unschooling a friend of mine said, "Oh, like adult-education."

UR: acronym for USAREUR Regulation

USAFE: United States Air Forces in Europe

USAREUR: United States Army Europe

US Code: Code of laws and supplements of the United States



Waldorf schooling:  Using the educational concepts developed by Rudolf Steiner.



weight allowance: In connection with a PCS, the total amount of weight paid for by the government for the shipment of a servicemember's household effects

white paper: An authoritative report about a major issue.







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This site was last updated:  Wednesday, 10 March 2010