Does your homeschool have a name? Does it need one? What makes a good name for a homeschool? Have you even thought about naming your homeschool?
Your response may depend on where you live and your approach to homeschooling. Some people are surprised to learn that in some states, parents are required by law to select a name for their homeschool and submit it to their state government in order to homeschool legally. People who have lived in those states "grew into" homeschooling with this requirement, and when they move, they're surprised to find a name for their homeschool not required in their new locale. Homeschoolers who "grew into" homeschooling without such a requirement may not be able to imagine naming their homeschool.
For one thing, they may not think of it as "a" homeschool. That's because even the use of the article in "a" homeschool makes a difference. Where I have homeschooled, I rarely hear of families referred to as "a homeschool." We homeschooled, or we were homeschooling, but we weren't a homeschool. We were a family who happened to homeschool. If the language doesn't lead you toward a name, you might not realize you could name it! That said, in other areas, it may be common to hear people talk about what it's like to be "a homeschool."
Homeschoolers who use a lot of school-like structure and think of their efforts as duplicating school may naturally seek out a name for their school, just as they naturally use school textbooks and start the day with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. In some states, homeschooling - or one of the options to homeschool legally - may actually be the formation of a family-size private "school;" hence, the school has to have a name. Homeschoolers who don't see their educational approach in relation to school as an institution may forego a lot of the trappings of a school, and that would include a school name as well.
Lots of people fall along the continuum with this, complicated by whether families live in a state where every homeschool has a name, or most people in their area have never heard of naming a homeschool. Whether you name your homeschool has to do with law, custom, and personal preference.
Benefits to Naming Your Homeschool
- May meet a legal requirement if your state law stipulates you name your homeschool
- You have a name to put on diploma and transcripts
- Creates a sense of belonging - tee shirts for each child with your school name!
- May reflect your personality or values
- Feels official (and may or may not be actually official - depending on where you live)
- Kids and young adults can list their school name on job applications, college and scholarship apps, etc.
That said, there are many people whose kids have homeschool transcripts with no school name and who write "homeschooled" on applications. Typically, there are not problems with this.
Disadvantages to Naming Your Homeschool
- May intentionally or unintentionally make people think your child attends or attended a regular school. You don't want to be seen as misrepresenting your child's education. Be honest and give the appearance of integrity.
- May allow others to miss that your child homeschooled - thus not giving him or her the unique benefit of being seen as a homeschooler. Colleges and employers often seek out homeschoolers - don't hide it!
- May feel uncomfortable to you or your kids if you're serious about not modeling education after institutional school
Ideas for Naming Your Homeschool
You can pair an adjective with a noun such as "Homeschool," "Academy," or "School."
You could use:
- a family name: "Faulconer Homeschool" or "Gates Academy"
- a place name such as a road, neighborhood, or area: "Briarwood School" or "South River Valley Homeschool"
- a feature unique to your home: "Twin Oaks," "Mountain View," "Garden Gate"
- a style of education: "Faulconer Montessori School"
- a tagline for your educational philosophy: "Always Learning Homeschool"
- a historic time period: "Renaissance Homeschool"
- a nature reference: "Constellation Homeschool," "Acorn Homeschool"
- a reference to scripture or faith: "Take Heart Homeschool," "Refuge Homeschool"
- a reference to a favorite quote: "Firelight Homeschool"
- a historical figure's name: "Washington's Homeschool," "Thomas Jefferson Homeschool" or "Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Academy"
- a favorite image, word, or phrase: "Lyrical Homeschool," "Half Moon Homeschool," "By the Book Homeschool"
- a reference to a song or poem lyric: "Two Paths Homeschool," "Arms Against a Sea Homeschool," "Road Less Travelled Homeschool"
You can also add a couple of words at the end of a school name to indicate a specialization, such as
- "Beasley Academy for the Arts"
- "Riverside Homeschool for Science, Math and Technology"
I've also seen some tongue-in-cheek but still classy allusions to historic school naming conventions. Referring back to school names like "City of London School for Girls" and "Archer School for Girls," a friend of ours with one daughter named their homeschool "Miller School for a Girl." Cute; still classy. She got into a very good college, not that the name was the reason.
Things to be Careful of in Naming Your Homeschool
- Don't choose a childish name that won't grow with your child or your family.
- Don't choose names that have potentially high negatives - names that could be misunderstood as insensitive or racist, for example. Run it by a friend, so you don't accidentally choose something that portrays your homeschool in a poor light.
- Avoid confusion - don't choose names of other known schools, especially in your area.
- Don't make it too long. Your child may be filling out forms using this school name in the future. Picture how this name will look on job, loan, and employment applications. Consider using a shorthand version if you're choosing a longer name. For example, Miller School for Girls might be Miller School on forms with limited space.
- Never use a homeschool name to mislead about the type of education.
- States that require homeschools to have a name may have specific naming rules you should follow. For example, take a look at the rules for naming your homeschool in North Carolina.
- Don't use the name of your curriculum package as part of your homeschool name. The name belongs to the curriculum company, not to your family. You could have legal issues.
Your Kids and their Homeschool Name
Make sure your kids know the name of their homeschool and how to use it. They can put it on job applications and college applications, but they should always be clear that they were homeschooled. For example, I told my kids to write their homeschool name followed by the word "homeschooled" in parentheses when they were in high stakes application situations. We never found this to be anything but an advantage, and we saw no reason to hide it or to let someone think we were being less than honest. This is one reason why using the word "Homeschool" in your school name might be a good idea; it's clear about the type of education.
Where a Homeschool Name Can Be Used
- On a homeschool high school transcript you make or have made
- On a homeschool diploma you make or order
- On part-time job applications while your kids are in high school
- On homeschool legal documents where required by law
- On scholarship and award applications
- On an unofficial homeschool "school" ID (may not be valid for all circumstances)
- On college applications
- On full-time post-high school or post-college job applications
Does your child have to have a name for his or her homeschool to fill out a job or college application? Nope.
If your family was required to have a homeschool name or chose to have one, you can use that homeschool name for college and employment. But plenty of people have homeschool transcripts accepted by colleges without a formal or official name of their homeschool. Again, people in states where homeschool names are common may push back if you say it's not needed; remember that homeschool laws and customs can be different in all fifty states in the United States as well as around the world.
What You Need to Know to Start Homeschooling
Still if it works for you, go ahead. Make a name for yourself! A homeschool name!