Homeschool vs. Public School: Making The Best Choice For Your Family

As parents we are tasked over the years with making hundreds of decisions about the future of our children. In most cases, we want what is best for our children and their well being. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we are bombarded with opinions and advice everywhere we turn. Just a simple search online can turn up hundreds of articles in favor of or opposing a single decision you are trying to make. 

Breastfeed or formula feed?

Co-sleep or sleep in their own bed?

Vaccinate or not vaccinate?

Circumcise or not circumcise?

Baby wearing? Pacifier? Baby-led weaning?  

The list goes on and on!

When it came time to make a decision about whether or not to homeschool my children, it would be a lie to say I wasn’t overwhelmed. My desire has always been to offer them the best education possible while still allowing them to have a wonderful childhood filled with freedom and good experiences. I scoured the internet looking for information from other parents who also struggled with this decision.

I came from a homeschooling family and was homeschooled for most of elementary school, as were my three siblings. Hannah, my sister and co-owner of These Lovely Acres, has chosen to homeschool her children who are of similar ages to mine.  I realized this wasn’t a decision the internet could make for me, or my mom or my sister- It was a decision that my husband and I had to make for our own family.

Last summer, I ended up choosing to homeschool my children for the upcoming school year. I would like to tell you it was because I felt an overwhelming passion for teaching my children at home. In all reality, I was going through the difficult process of recovering from a long season of debilitating anxiety and panic attacks cause by the two traumatic births of my children and did not feel equipped to make a decision about their education. My husband and I decided that we would keep the children home for another year so that we would have more time to think about what we wanted our family life to look like.

Over the course of the school year, I learned so much about myself and my children. I learned that I am capable of educating my children. I am not a “teacher” by nature and it doesn’t come easily to me, but I was pleasantly surprised that I was absolutely able to teach my children (you can’t mess up kindergarten math too bad, right?). Being able to observe the way each of my children liked to learn,what subjects came easily to them and what came as more of a challenge, was a huge benefit.

Conversely, I also learned that I have limitations. While I learned I CAN teach my children, it is very challenging for me and requires a lot of effort and, quite honestly, at times it can be stressful. As moms we put so much pressure on ourselves to “do it all”. Balancing life as a part-time social worker and full-time mom is challenging and I felt very torn about adding the title of “teacher” onto my plate.

At the end of the school year, my husband and I decided that we would be sending our children to public school. This was not an easy decision or one that we made lightly. Hours were spent talking about the pros and cons of homeschool vs public school and what that looked like for our family. For me, letting go of the role of “teacher” was a huge relief!

I can not stress enough the importance of making the best decision for YOUR family.  You know your children better than anyone else. Take into consideration every member of the family (including yourself) and ask yourself realistic questions about what homeschooling and public school would look like. Being honest about your strengths and  limitations will help to make a solid decision for your family. Homeschooling may work for a few years, and then not and that’s okay! The same goes for public school.

 

The following are some of the benefits and shortcomings to both homeschool and public school.

Homeschooling

Pros

  • time efficient learning due to one on one teaching
  • flexibility with schedule (able to sleep in, travel, etc.)
  • freedom with curriculum
  • more family togetherness
  • individualized education for each child
  • less bullying/ social pressure

Cons

  • increased cost compared to public school
  • time investment, possible loss of income for one parent
  • simultaneously managing different educational needs of older children and younger children
  • less interaction with other children their age unless in a homeschool community or group
  • juggling role as teacher in addition to mother, employee, etc.

Public School

Pros

  • interaction with other children their age on a daily basis
  • low cost
  • structured days
  • encourages independence
  • more intentional about quality time as a parent with children after school and on weekends
  • allows both parents to work if need be

Cons

  • somewhere to be every day
  • less control over curriculum
  • exposure to bullying and social pressure
  • less time for free play
  • ability to travel is limited to breaks during the school year

 

The beautiful thing about parenting is that many of the decisions we face are not black and white issues- many fall into the “gray” area. What works for some may not work for others. It doesn’t mean I am right and you are wrong. What this means is that we may have two differing opinions on how to raise our children, but that doesn’t have to change how we view or treat each other.

Standing in judgement of other parents only hurts you and your children.  This was a lesson I had to learn, and many of us do, when becoming a new parent. When we view others through the lens of understanding and grace, we open ourselves up to friendship and also the ability to view life from a different perspective.

9 Comments

  • Jennifer Penas
    Posted August 16, 2018 12:28 pm 0Likes

    You’re right. As moms we do put a LOT of pressure upon ourselves. There are so many decisions (as you listed some at the beginning) for us to make for our children. I’ve learned that at the end of the day, if your children are happy and healthy, you’ve made the right decision. Cheers!

  • Maartje van Sandwijk
    Posted August 16, 2018 12:58 pm 0Likes

    I think it’s very brave of you to have homeschooled your children! I don’t have any of my own (but am an au pair so look after two kids almost 24/7) but I couldn’t handle it if they were in the house all the time… I’d go crazy!

  • Rosemary Arbogast
    Posted August 16, 2018 5:22 pm 0Likes

    I was homeschooled for a year as well. It was a lot of fun, but I don’t think I would do it for my children the whole time. It definitely is a different experience than what everyone else gets and you really have to work to stay involved with people outside your family.

  • Kathie
    Posted August 16, 2018 8:07 pm 0Likes

    This is such a thoughtful article. Every child is different. Every parent is different. Every situation is different. I love that you choose to do what is best for your individual family. Such a hard thing to do in this age when so much pressure is put on parents to do everything “perfectly”. And not judging others for their decisions is so important. Thank you for sharing this. ❤️❤️

  • Diana
    Posted August 16, 2018 10:41 pm 0Likes

    I find it a little odd to have “bullying/peer pressure” as a con. Yes, it’s not a good thing in general, but even in adulthood, there are bullies and pressure. I think being exposed young when they have you for guidance, can help them learn how to navigate around negative people. If they never face that and then go off to college on their own, where drinking is a big pressure, they may not know how to say no. Just my 2 cents on that.

    We plan on public school just because I want my daughter to enroll in the Chinese immersion program as I believe being bilingual is a very important skill to have in this day in age.

  • Sami Summers
    Posted August 17, 2018 10:42 am 0Likes

    You’re right, this is a very tough decision. I’m very torn on the issue, but my oldest is only 2 so I have some time to come to a decision. I can see the perks of both school systems.

  • Kasey Ma
    Posted August 17, 2018 1:12 pm 0Likes

    This is always a big decision. I am not sure which way I will go when I have kiddos.

    Kasey Ma
    thestylewright.com

  • Marielle
    Posted August 18, 2018 3:38 am 0Likes

    I like how you said one thing doesn’t always work for everyone. This is so true! I think it depends on the family situation and the child him/herself. Great insights!

  • kerri
    Posted August 20, 2018 2:09 pm 0Likes

    I’ve never considered homeschool, but after doing some research it does look like an option. Thank you!

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