Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Growing up, I LOVED school! I wasn't homeschooled myself, and in fact, I attended a very poor elementary and middle public school. I excelled through courses all the way into college. The note-taking, fun facts, new trivia knowledge, the teachers, EVERYTHING! And throughout my life, people screamed the same thing in my ear: you need to be a teacher!
I was a professional nanny for years, and people saw how great I was with kids. Arts and crafts, educational games, and meaningful field trips were my forte! I could turn ANYTHING into a lesson. But I resisted.
I resisted for a long time, because I hated public schools. I knew in high school that I would be homeschooling my future children. At some point throughout the journey, I caved (hello! I needed an income). I started my teaching career teaching second grade at one of the poorest schools in one of the poorest districts in my state. Basically, I took the first job that was offered to me. And....
Every. Single. One. Of. My. Fears. Came. True.
Administration (that hadn't been in the classroom for years) was telling me that I was doing everything wrong despite my results
My creativity in the classroom was stifled because I wasn't following the curriculum with fidelity
Children didn't value learning
Their confidence had been squashed (BY SECOND GRADE)
After my second grade job, I took a fifth grade opportunity at a school I had rapport with. I knew the staff and faculty, my brothers went to school there, I was comfortable with my kids attending, and I loved my administration. I figured, maybe I didn't hate teaching - I just wasn't a good fit for the last school. So, I jumped in.
It was worse. I was miserable, despite trying to break the mold.
Big kids DEFINITELY didn't want to learn anymore & their confidence was in the gutter
I was told to teach for them to test well in the spring
More time was spent on negative behaviors than actually teaching
The topics were dull and boring - no matter how hard I tried to ramp them up
I was forced to use teaching models that didn't work with nearly 30 kids in my classroom
I knew that the public school system was not compatible with my teaching style, and my kids weren't thriving either. My son was bored with sitting at a desk and getting into trouble. My daughter was extremely bored and getting into trouble over things we wouldn't bat an eyelash at! We were able to experiment during holiday and summer breaks. So, I decided to make the jump.
So the question you've been asking: Homeschool or Public School?
*For each factor, I'll be giving each one a fair assessment of 1 - 10, 10 being the best choice*
Homeschool (7/10): Families have endless possibilities with content and curriculum. There are options for all subjects, plus many interest-based topics. You can choose between an already done for you box-set, or you can make your own curriculum as you go. A lot of families choose to homeschool to add Bible study, or they want an emphasis on nature investigations. The flexibility is a major pro for a lot of families, and there can be convenience in it. The downside to this is the execution. It can take a lot of time, effort, and knowledge to teach your own kids. Some parents don't feel like they have the skills to teach the content, or they're afraid of passing on the wrong methods. Honestly, education and knowledge is valuable, no matter what you teach.
Public School (3/10): For decades, leaders in education have created curricula designed to push students and teach critical and logical problem-solving skills. Most of the time, it's rigorous, precise, and parallel to future grades. Depending on your district, some teachers are bound to the specific curriculum, causing very little flexibility in style, topics, and activities. This works beautifully for some children! A lot of kids thrive in this traditional setting. However, some kids get lost in the content. With very little flexibility in the pacing, some students struggle to keep up. Most skills are taught in a way that builds on one another, so if they don't understand simple addition, they will struggle when they're introduced to two-digit addition. Without addition, multiplication is hard to grasp, and so on. In ELA and science, students can become bored or lose interest quickly, meaning they aren't paying attention, acting out, and barely retaining any information. In higher grades, a lot of public schools are focused on getting high test scores because these scores help fund schools. There's a lot of focus on test-taking, but very little application to the real-world. With these cons, it's hard to side with public schools.
Homeschool (8/10): As with content and curriculum, the time you spend homeschooling your kids is flexible. You have full reigns on when school begins and ends for each day, as well as days off and holidays. You have the option to school for 3 or 4 days a week or all 7 days if you want! Some parents choose to follow public school schedules, starting their new year in August/September and ending in May/June. However, you can start your academic year any month of the year and even choose to homeschool all year long. Our family schools all year, so I plan out educational goals for each child to hit and don't move on to the next "grade" until we've hit them. We only school 3 or 4 days of the week (depending on how we're feeling or what's going on at home), but we can take off whenever we need to. The holidays are a great time to slow down! Another pro of homeschooling schedules is the amount of time per day you spend working. Kids have small attention spans, so why try to work them for seven hours? Maybe your child works for four hours on Monday, but can't focus after three on Tuesday - THAT'S OKAY! The biggest pro with homeschool schedules is the accountability. It can be very difficult to start learning at home if they've never done it before. Not to mention, new homeschool parents may have trouble kickstarting their days or put too much pressure on the days. Either way, it can create hard, stressful, and frustrating days. You have to know yourself and your kids enough to know what kind of homeschool schedule works for your family. My daughter can go with the flow on a flexible schedule (she's only five, of course), but my son (nearly eight) has special needs and requires a strict routine every day. They school differently, but we can allow that with homeschooling.
Public Schools (3/10): The hours of public schools are attractive to working parents. Most schools match up with an average work day, so they don't have to worry about childcare or fitting in time to educate their children. Students are given time for breakfast, lunch, academics, socialization, and exercise all in one day. However, some schools start too early for children's natural rhythm, or worse: they're stuck on a bus for an hour at the crack of dawn before even getting there. Kids show up too tired to learn from the get-go! With schools only lasting seven or eight hours a day, yet having to fit in everything, it doesn't allow for much wiggle room in work. Most teachers have a set time limit per subject and cannot allow students much more time. Students can get frustrated or anxious when they feel these time restraints. Often, classrooms have anywhere from 20 to 30 students in one room, and negative behaviors are bound to arise. Teachers have to take time away from others in order to address these behaviors, thus, shortening the already short amount of instruction time. We all have bad days, and kids are no exception! If they aren't ready to learn, they can't go back to bed or play instead. Most kids over the age of five don't have access to naps when they're tired, so these long days put a lot of strain on them. In the United States, there is no flexibility in school days, so you have to look at your family and life and decide if these schedules are best for you!
Homeschool (5/10): People have asked for as long as homeschoolers have existed - how do you socialize your children? It's a legitimate concern! If you're stuck at home all day, just you and your child, where do they get peer interaction? Learn to share? Learn sports? Easy - extracurriculars! Homeschool parents aren't gluttons for punishment. They need breaks from their children, and children need breaks from their parents! If you're lucky enough to live near plenty of activities, you can sign them up for all kinds of stuff: gymnastics, basketball, coding and cooking classes, etc. There are homeschool co-ops available in a lot of areas, where homeschool children can get together to learn similar subjects or specials. They can play at the park like other children (gasp!), and even have playdates with other available children. Some parents see the selectiveness as a positive. The biggest downsize is obviously the price. Most of these activities for socialization cost money, and sometimes, A LOT OF IT. In order to ensure your children get the proper amount of socialization, it's important to have a plan and budget before taking the plunge into homeschooling. Ultimately, the socialization factor is as positive or negative as you make it.
Public School (7/10): Every day, your child is surrounded by different students within their classroom and entire school. They can learn to socialize with children who are younger and older than them, who come from different religions, ethnicities, and socio-economic statuses, and adults who can enrich their lives. While recess time has been reduced through the years, they are given opportunities to collaborate and learn from others. In the classroom, there is a major push for group work to prepare them for future careers, and students are taught how to have accountable talks. Socialization wise, public schools have a lot of opportunities! However, negative behaviors are rising in public schools, and it's scary to send your kids off to learn these behaviors. You will never know how another child is being raised or their mental health status, so school shootings and fights are a constant concern (especially for American parents). While learning with diverse populations is a positive factor, your child could be exposed to things you're not ready to share with them: cursing, sex, fighting, etc. To be honest though, your child has these risks just by leaving the house. So, it's a plus that in public schools they have trained professionals who can help them handle these situations.
Teaching (Professionals, Styles, & Ratio)
Homeschool (8/10): Parents have the home field advantage here - you know your child the best! During the course of their life, you've noticed a thing or two about how they learn and what works. You know what motivates them and how to get them to cooperate (most of the time). You're able to completely teach using your child's unique learning style! Does your child have a hard time sitting? Let them dance during a lesson. Does your child like to work on something else while they listen? Have them color or take notes while you're reading aloud. Do they need more opportunities to draw, sketch, or paint it out? Then you can allow that! It's just you and your children, and despite your schedule, you're able to encourage them in their learning styles AND work one-on-one (or small group if you have more than one kiddo) with them. As long as you know how to read, you can teach your kids! You don't need an education degree to teach children - you just need to have the WANT! Once you've got that down, you're golden! Maybe you're not the best at math or teaching your child to read, and there's NO shame in that. You're able to outsource those subjects to tutors if you need to! However, there are some flip sides to all of this. Right off the bat, your confidence can get in your way. Parents are notorious for being too hard on themselves, so that can impact you! Another difficulty is the clashing of personalities. Let's be honest: we don't get along with our children all of the time. It can be hard as an auditory learner to teach a visual learner. If you're someone who truly believes in classical, traditional note-taking but your kid needs movement, there can be some conflict! It's okay to know that it's not for you. Then there's the ratio.... Depending on your child, this one-on-one interaction can create a wonderful relationship... or co-dependence. My daughter thrives during learning time with me, but tends to be clingy afterwards. My son prefers to be as far away from me as possible to work and play independently. Either way, you need to know if you can actually teach your kids. The plus side? You can always change your mind.
Public School (7/10): A lot of people don't actually understand the extensive education a teacher has to endure before getting into the classroom. There's three years of a variety of subject-specific courses, some general/broad ones, and then an entire semester student teaching (aka teaching without a paycheck). Teachers are trained on managing behaviors, cultivating relationships, and different methods of teaching and accommodating. They receive training on different special needs and best practices for helping those kids the quality education they deserve. They are given a specific curriculum that tends to be hard to mess up - meaning they will educate your child on the topics the district requires. However, teachers have to teach 20 - 30 very different children. They just can't give your child one-on-one attention or teach in the exact method they may need. In some states, teachers don't even have to go to college in education. They simply need a college degree, some continuing education classes, and to pass a simple test. This can lead to classrooms having someone not completely qualified in charge of their education. While not every teacher who goes this route is incapable of teaching, it can be trouble - especially for first year teachers. Teachers have the same obstacle as parents do: personality conflicts. It's a very real possibility your child will have a teacher who doesn't like your kid or isn't capable of matching the learning/teaching styles. Despite any possible downfalls, most teachers will give your child as much as they can and love them dearly. If you keep your kids in public schools, make sure to remember that the teacher is a human being who is trying their best. Be kind!
So who is the winner?
Based on my opinion, homeschooling your child will win every time. However, there will never be a clearcut answer. The decision on how to educate your child will always be very personal and needs to be thought through very carefully. Check out some of the books I've recommended here to see if it's something you really want to do. Consider what factors matter the most to you and the best method for your child to receive it.
What was the deciding factor for you? Tell me in the comments!
When you're ready to make the plunge, check out our shop for no-prep, eclectic homeschooling curriculum. Eclectic Learners is constantly rolling out next year's curriculum for consciously educating future world changers. We offer an eclectic, secular homeschool curriculum that combines some Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, and hygge methods, with a twist of our own learning model. We believe that by using the three Cs: connection, community, and creativity, children will grow up with the skills and conscious to make changes. These units are broken up into nine week quarters in order to provide the most manageable and affordable options to parents. It can be SO OVERWHELMING to receive an entire year’s worth of content. And how frustrating is it to drop that much money without knowing if you love it or if it’ll work with your kids?
Our ELA focus is on deep diving into literature, grammar, vocabulary acquisition, community outreach, and developing passions. So many people grow up without having the chance to truly learn what they're passionate about or creating self-care routines. We believe that by teaching children at an early age, they’ll be able to maintain those skills for later in life when discovering career and happiness paths.
During your child’s first science quarter, they will be surrounded by animals and ecosystems! The flow of energy through our ecosystems is the foundation to all life on Earth. With options for deep studies in flowers, animals, aquatic life, and more, students have access to broadening their horizons, even if they don’t have access to those locations currently. Students are also given the opportunity to explore their local ecosystems and witness nature in all it’s beautiful glory.