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Making the decision between homeschool vs. public school can be tough for many families. Many parents see the pros and cons of both and have trouble deciding on the best choice for their family. Like any major decision, doing your research can help make the right choice more clear.

While the public school system is being questioned more and more by parents, homeschooling is on the rise. Deciding on the right choice for your family and individual children requires careful thought. That right choice varies from family to family, and sometimes even child to child.


Comparing Homeschool vs Public School

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Finances


While you can homeschool successfully without a huge budget, typically homeschooling requires that one parent stays home. If your family needs the income of two full-time salaries, homeschool may not be the best option for you. Many families find that public school is a must for them due to their need to work outside of the home full-time. While finances are definitely a factor if you truly want to homeschool you can make it work. Many homeschooling moms work from home. Other parents follow opposite work schedules to accommodate both finances and homeschooling. Where there is a will, there is always a way.

Socialization


A big concern for parents when considering homeschool is socialization. There is still the old stigma that homeschooled children are sheltered, awkward, and antisocial. In the modern age of homeschool, the socialization of children depends on the homeschooling style of the parents. Your child will be as “social” as you allow and encourage them to be. Many homeschool families find that their social schedule is even more full than those in public school. If you are considering homeschool, research your local homeschool communities. Most communities have a variety of co-ops, weekly groups, workshops, and even sports programs. It is possible to homeschool your children while still giving them plenty of social opportunities.

Personal Sacrifices


It’s no secret that if you chose to homeschool your child, you become the teacher. While there are many programs available in most communities, even some drop-off programs, you will be your child’s main teacher as well as a chauffeur. You will need to decide if you are okay with losing those in-school hours of time to yourself. While your fellow mom friends are exercising or having lunch together, you may be homeschooling or driving your child to programs.

On the flip side, parents whose children attend public school may feel stressed that they aren’t getting enough time with their children. By the time the entire family gets home each evening there may only be enough time for dinner and homework before bed. While there is no right or wrong, only personal preference, the sacrifice of time to yourself versus the loss of time with your children is a point to consider.

Time Commitment


When considering homeschool versus public school, time commitment factors are not what you might think. Many parents think they wouldn’t have time to homeschool, without realizing that they probably spend more time in car drop-off and pick-up lines than they would actually spend doing sit-down homeschool work.

The advantage of homeschool is that the timing is flexible, and teaching your own children one-on-one takes far less time than teaching an entire classroom of children. Homeschoolers also have the advantage of choosing when they do their studies, which can vary day to day or season to season. For example, some homeschoolers in warmer climates tend to do more book-work in the hotter months when they’re already indoors more, and then more field trips, exploring and playing outdoors in their cooler months. If you want to create a more flexible life not ruled by school schedules, homeschool is a great option for you!

Curriculum and Learning Styles


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Public school can be a wonderful opportunity for our children to learn from amazing teachers. There really are great benefits to our children being educated by our public school systems. However, many parents find that their children may struggle because their particular learning style doesn’t work within the current limitations of the school system. Other parents may find they disagree with the curriculum, short lunch and recess periods, or other factors.

Researching lunch and recess periods, curriculum, and other factors of your public school should help you have clear points when comparing homeschool versus public school. Homeschooling is a great option for any parent who wishes to choose their own curriculum or cater to their child’s best learning style. Homeschoolers can choose to focus on certain subjects of interest more in-depth, and allow each child to learn at his or her own pace.

Teaching While Also Learning


If you enjoy learning and challenging yourself, homeschool can be a great choice for you as a parent. Homeschool parents are always learning along with their children, which can be really fun if you enjoy learning new things. If you are not confident in teaching your child, you may be more inclined to lean towards public school.

If you are leaning towards homeschool but are afraid you won’t be a good teacher, remember that it takes time and practice to become confident at anything. Homeschool parents can choose curriculums that are fully prepared for them, and there are even some school programs that allow children to attend one day per week and bring home the rest of their work for the week to complete under the parents’ supervision.

There are also co-ops, where other parents take the responsibility of teaching classes to groups of children. Often times these teachers are retired public school teachers or more experienced homeschoolers. Extensive networks of homeschool families and resources are always happy to help new homeschoolers.

Child’s Input on Homeschooling vs Public School


While comparing all of the pros and cons of our own beliefs and preferences, it’s important we don’t forget to consider each child’s individual input. Homeschooling an unwilling child could be quite difficult. Talk to your child about the options, the pros and cons of both in your opinion, and get their input. Hearing things from their perspective can help you make a more clear decision, and having them on board with the final decision is key.

Your State’s Laws


An important factor to consider is your state’s laws on homeschooling. Most states make homeschooling fairly easy for parents, but you will want to make sure you understand the requirements of your state before deciding to homeschool. For example, some states require an “Intent to Homeschool” be filed and then an annual evaluation by a certified teacher to ensure progress. All requirements vary state to state. You can start researching your state’s laws by visiting the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

Travel


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If you are a family who loves to travel, or one parent has to travel a lot for work, homeschool can be a great option. For example, some families who are able to work remotely will travel to different countries studying world history. While that is a luxury not all families can afford, you will still find more flexibility to take local day trips and explore new places if your children are homeschooled.

Travel can still be accomplished if you choose public school, although you’ll have to work with the teachers and school officials on their rules for absences, and may have to plan trips only during school breaks. Many homeschool families enjoy taking trips to certain destinations during the times when most families are not traveling because of school schedules.

Long-Term Plan


If you have researched all the options and are still on the fence about homeschool versus public school, remember that neither plan has to be long term. You can try homeschool for one year, and during that year experiment with different schedules, co-ops, programs, and curriculums. You can also try out public school, if your children have never been before, and see if it ends up being a good fit.

Neither option has to be permanent, and choosing to do one doesn’t have to mean you are against the other option. Just like our careers, sometimes we don’t know what the right fit is for us until we try things out for a while. We can always reserve the right to change our mind once we have more of a personal experience.


There are pros and cons to both homeschooling and public school. Each family has to decide which one provides the most benefits for them. If you do the research, trust your gut, and keep an open mind, you’ll make the decision that is best for your family. All we can do as parents is our research in an impartial manner, making the best decision we can with the information we gather and trying it out with an open mind.


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Sources: Homeschool Laws in Your State

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