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Homeschooling and Edu-ese

Has this ever happened to you: You have some vehicle troubles, so you take your car to the mechanic. The mechanic inspects the vehicle, comes out, and explains what the problem is and what needs to be fixed. You have no idea what he is saying because you don’t understand automotive “edu-ese” jargon. But you don’t want to look ignorant, so you just nod your head and agree with whatever he is saying, trusting his professional expertise.

Just like mechanics, professional educators have their own professional jargon. But unlike the mechanic, when it comes to home education, you’re a professional too. If you’ve embarked upon the homeschooling adventure, you are just as much a full-time educator as any public-school employee or professor. So why not familiarize yourself with a bit of the professional “edu-ese” jargon that educators often use? That way, the next time a teacher friend brings up these terms, you’ll be ready.

Here’s a glossary of education buzzwords (pay attention, there will be a quiz at the end)…

Scope & Sequence

This is a term used in curriculum planning. When plotting your student’s education, you probably have had questions like “What courses does my high schooler need to complete before graduation?” or “How will I distribute these courses over the four years of high school?” These are questions about scope and sequence. A scope is the depth and breadth of content to be taught. A sequence is the order in which the content is to be taught. In other words, a scope and sequence is a plan of what and when to teach specific subjects and courses. If someone asks you “What is your scope and sequence?” they are basically asking you “What are you teaching and when are you teaching it?” (Click for help in creating your homeschool scope & sequence.)


“Pedagogy” and “pedagogical” are terms educators love to throw around. It’s a fancy-sounding word, but fortunately, this one is quite simple: pedagogical simply means “relating to education.” If someone asks, “What pedagogical method do you use?” they are simply asking, “What is your teaching style?” If someone says a movie has “pedagogical value”, they mean the movie is educational. This very blog post you are reading is pedagogical because it is teaching you about educational jargon.


Speaking of a “synchronous” course is a complicated way of referring to a live, interactive course, i.e., a traditional class where teachers and students are interacting in real-time (in person or online). It is called synchronous because the instruction and the student engagement happen in synchronicity—at the same time. (Click for Homeschool Connections synchronous courses.)


If synchronous means a live class, you can probably guess what asynchronous means. That’s right… it’s a recorded, independent-learning class! Unlike a live course, asynchronous courses rely on a model where the student engagement comes after the teacher’s instruction. Students are watching recordings of instruction that happened before they ever signed up for the class. Since the instruction and student engagement happens at different times, this is called an asynchronous course. (Click for Homeschool Connections asynchronous courses.)

Credit Recovery

This is what we used to call a “make-up course.” Credit recovery is when a student fails a course and needs to take a make-up course to “recover” the credit they lost. Easy.


This one is tricky because first, we must understand what a paradigm is on its own, then what it means applied to education. A paradigm is essentially a model or construct; it is a basic framework of ideas and assumptions that other more concrete ideas can be built upon—a set of first principles. So, applied to education, a paradigm is a framework that enshrines the principles of an educational philosophy. Educational paradigms have their own theories about the purpose of education, what it means to learn, and the roles of teachers and students in the learning process. For example, some characteristics of the homeschooling paradigm are the centrality of parents as educators, the value of education outside of traditional structures, and the idea of “forming the whole person” as the goal of our educational endeavors. This paradigm creates the framework for how we proceed with our homeschooling. The Montessori Method is another example of an educational paradigm, as it has its own assumptions about the purpose of education, how learning happens, and the roles of teachers and students.


Spiraling is a method of instruction that revisits the same content repeatedly over the years, going into greater depth with each subsequent revisit, thus building mastery over time. For example, a spiral approach to history would look like this: We study the Middle Ages in elementary school, maybe just learning about castles, knights, and reading stories of King Arthur. We study the Middle Ages again in middle school, now learning a bit about the events and people of the period. Then in high school, we study the Middle Ages for a third time, now doing a deep dive into the philosophy and cultural life of the era. It’s like an educational drill, circling around to the same content again and again but drilling down deeper each time.

Alright…did you get all that? Now let’s give you a little quiz. See if you can translate this sentence from edu-ese into plain speak:

“I think you will appreciate the educational paradigm our university program offers, Mrs. Jones. Our scope and sequence utilizes a spiraling approach to education. Our pedagogical vision includes both synchronous and asynchronous options with generous opportunities for credit recovery along the way.”

So…what do you think? Translated into common parlance, this means:

“You’re gonna love our approach to learning! Course plans revisit material at multiple levels to build mastery over time. Our educational approach incorporates both live and recorded courses—and if your student bombs a class, it’s no biggie because there’s lots of make-up options available.”

See? It’s not so difficult! Now when career educators talk to you about education, you don’t have to have that “listening to the mechanic talk about repairs I don’t understand” look in your eyes.


For more help in your job as a professional home educator, check out the Homeschooling Saints Podcast available on your favorite podcasting app and also on YouTube.
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Resources to help you in your Catholic homeschool…

Catholic Homeschool Classes Online

Homeschooling Saints Podcast

Good Counsel Careers

The Catholic Homeschool Conference

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