What comes to mind when you see the word homeschool? How about home school or home-school?
There has been some confusion over the years about the spelling of this word. Though homeschooling isn’t new, it has taken some time to receive mainstream acceptance. Even now, the name still lacks universal standardization, compounded by the fact that some homeschoolers still don’t get it right themselves.
Most homeschoolers spell it as one word. But others use two. Occasionally, you’ll see it hyphenated, as well.
The “industry standard” is homeschool — one word, no spaces or hyphens. Spelling it any other way may conjure up different mental images. The two word version seems to imply traditional school duplicated in a home setting. The hyphenated version can be mistaken for a traditionally schooled child temporarily receiving work at home (due to extended illness, for instance) or enrollment in an online public school program as well. And since these aren’t what homeschooling is about, spelling the word incorrectly perpetuates this inaccurate portrayal.
Is this really a big deal? I think so. Words are powerful; thus, spelling can theoretically make all the difference between fiction and reality, acceptance or dismissal, and insignificance versus receiving major national attention. It wasn’t long ago that a bear might terrorize a neighborhood. Today, the word terrorism takes on a whole new meaning. A dramatic example, to be sure, but a poignant one nonetheless.
In a recent HEM Magazine article, Contributors Larry and Susan Kaseman urge homeschoolers to use the one-word format. Spelling the word correctly and encouraging others to follow suit, they say, helps to distinguish real homeschooling from schooling at home in other ways.
While homeschooling affords many freedoms, it does not come without a price. It remains incumbent upon homeschoolers to uphold and protect the foundations of homeschooling and release accurate information into the stratosphere. Doing any less chips away at homeschooling over time by distorting public perception, which could eventually result in changes in practice, leading to unwelcome changes in reporting or legislation.
Homeschooling by any other name is not the same. Help keep homeschooling intact by keeping the word intact. Homeschool, not home school. A small effort that can make a big difference.