Since we stopped homeschooling, this is our first “back to school.” My 4 kids all go to public school now. As a former homeschool mom with 9 years teaching under my belt, this is a huge change for us. And so I wondered: what would I tell people who ask is public school better than homeschooling?
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Well, it is and it isn’t.
Obviously, there are pros and cons to this question. And the answers depend on your individual situation. I’ve summarized things as they apply to our family.
10 reasons why public school is BETTER than homeschooling
1. Public school excels at structure.
A homeschool structure often eluded me. Little kids have different needs than big ones. A million things beckon to homeschool moms – things like cooking, laundry, little kids and errands.
But school teachers are able to focus on teaching with a group of kids in one grade. They enjoy a well-defined structure. Everyone knows when it’s time to switch subjects, eat lunch, and wrap up to go home.
2. Our public schools cover academics in depth and provide more electives.
My kids did things last year that we would never had had time to do (not to mention the resources or knowledge). They had art, music and gym. They planted gardens, did science experiments and group projects. Skilled teachers guided them.
Homeschoolers use curriculum for these things, but I was never able to dig in as much as their teachers did. It was a rich experience for my kids. (Psst – here’s an easy craft option: Green Kids Craft boxes. Save $10 with coupon code SCHOOLTEN)
3. Public schools encourage independence.
Public school kids navigate the lunch line, manage their books and relate to other kids without mom coaching from the sidelines. My kids gained a lot of independence in public school last year.
4. Our public schools have great teachers.
My kids’ teachers were fantastic! It was such a blessing for me to know that there were others who enjoyed teaching my kids. Perhaps not every teacher is as caring and skilled, but our experience was a positive one.
5. We enjoyed summer more!
When we homeschooled, we frequently worked into the summer. This year, we didn’t do ANY school work during the summer. The kids savored this time. It was a true break.
As a homeschool mom, I spent a huge part of my summer preparing portfolios and lesson plans for the next year. This year, I just got to enjoy it with my kids!
6. Public school is cheaper than homeschool.
Homeschooling cost us a lot more than public school does. We spent over $1000 on high school curriculum alone. I know it’s possible to homeschool on a shoestring budget, but that wasn’t what I wanted for my kids.
This year, I spent about $150 for school supplies for 4 kids including this backpack and a bunch of school supplies. That extra couple thousand dollars will a such a blessing to our budget this year.
7. Public school gives us time apart.
I do love them, but I don’t think it’s wrong to say that I need a break from my kids. This is a lesson I’m learning over and over again. When they come home from school, we’re all glad to see each other.
The same is true for the kids needing time apart from each other. My kids are intense (do they get it from me?) and so their time at school is helpful for everyone.
8. Public school provides socialization.
Yep – I just said the dreaded “S” word. It was tough for my kids to get in enough time with other kids. My kids relate to many different personalities at school.
Homeschoolers often dismiss the question of socialization. But, for us, the advantage lies with the public school.
9. Public school allows me to be “just mom.”
Doing double-duty as teacher/mom to 4 boys is grueling! No wonder I was overwhelmed!
They won’t tell you this, but my sons enjoy having other teachers besides their mom. This is on of the big lessons I learned a lot of when we quit homeschooling.
10. Public school allows me more time for my youngest.
A busy homeschool day never left me much time to just play with my kids. Life is still busy, but I have a lot more time to play with my preschooler. I’m grateful for this special time with him.
Of course, public school isn’t all sunshine and rainbows 🙂
I realize that public school has been a bad experience for plenty of families. I don’t regret our homeschool years one bit. I think it’s only fair to provide both sides of the equation.
10 Reasons why public school is NOT better than homeschool
1. Public school requires 6am alarm clocks.
2. Public school takes away my control over curriculum.
More than once last year, I was frustrated with a lesson I thought was poorly written. As a homeschool mom, I would have re-worked it or skipped it; in public school, my kids didn’t have a choice.
3. Public school means a long bus ride.
Two of my kids have a 25 minute bus ride. Unfortunately, that’s what it takes to get to our schools. They saved this time when we were homeschooling.
4. Public school takes away our flexibility.
Flexibility is the flip side of structure. While structure is a great thing, we do miss that flexibility. We don’t get to choose when they study, what they study, or who they spend their time with.
5. Homeschool allows more time together.
Sure we like our time apart, but learning together is nice, too. My kids range in age from 15-4. While it was challenging to teach such a wide range of ages, my kids benefited from having each other around.
My youngest picked up a ton by being around when his brothers were having lessons. He doesn’t get near that amount of exposure now.
6. Public school sends us out into bad weather.
There’s nothing sweeter than snuggling up with a good book when it’s 30 degrees outside and windy. It was on those days that I most appreciated homeschooling since we could stay home. Now that’s not an option. Brrr!
7. Homeschool allows for efficient learning.
This is a huge plus of homeschooling. If a child understands something, you breeze through; if he doesn’t, you slow down. Maybe you reteach and take the time to let a lesson sink in.
Not so in public school – teachers just don’t have this luxury.
8. Homeschool helps avoid bad influences.
When your kids leave the house, they may encounter bad influences. While we’ve had some negative influences and we’re just dealing with them as they come. It makes for productive discussions at the dinner table.
9. Public school requires standardized testing.
I am not a fan of standardized testing.
10. Public school means more paperwork!
Oh my goodness! I had to develop a system just to manage the school paperwork. What is the deal with all that paper?
Sending my kids to public school was a huge letting go process for me.
But isn’t that just what parenting is about? From the day they are born, to the day they take their first steps to the day they drive off in a car, we’re letting go. We just have to decide how much and when.