Homeschool, Public School, or Private School: Which is Best?

school classroom

My daughter is only 1 year old, but I’m already pondering what type of schooling we should give her: public school, private school, or home school. Each one has it’s own lists of pros and cons. I’ve been a student at all three types of schools and can speak from experience in this area.

Since I happen to like lists and use them frequently in my decision-making processes, here’s how the lists play out in writing.

Pros of private school education

  • It’s a close-knit community where most everyone knows everyone else. In good situations, it can be like a family atmosphere.
  • Parents and teachers have open lines of communication, more so than in a big public school.
  • This type of school is usually religious in nature, and therefore children are being taught your specific religious beliefs along with the rest of their education.
  • Teacher to student ratios are balanced out nicely.

Cons of private school education

  • These schools have expensive tuition that can run into the thousands each school year.
  • Opportunities that exist in public schools may not be available to students, such as drama or art classes, BOCES programs, and classes that can earn college credit.
  • Because these type of schools are often small, the sense of community and family can quickly become an ugly thing, as disagreements and conflicts arise but there are not a lot of people to help balance it all out.
  • Busing is often not available, causing parents to have to provide transportation to and from school each day.
  • If the schools can’t keep up financially, they end up shutting down, which leaves the kids in limbo — especially if the school shuts down when the kids are in high school and nearing graduation.
  • Education isn’t always top quality. For instance, I had chemistry class but it was by video and I never had any chemistry labs. This left me completely unprepared for labs in nursing school, which I later had to drop out of as a result (because of chemistry labs that I just couldn’t comprehend).
  • College scholarships are limited come graduation time.

Pros of public education

  • Public education opens up a broad range of people and ideas to your children that they may not be exposed to in private or home school. This can lead to learning how to think through things — or it can fall on the con side, and cause total rebellion to all your family stands for.
  • Public schools offer advanced classes in art, music, and drama.
  • Public schools offer advanced classes like Regents and classes that earn college credits.
  • Students are able to be a part of clubs, such as debate club, productions like musicals, and sports teams that private schools may not be able to offer.

Cons of public school education

  • Values may be taught to your children that you do not agree with, and not necessarily according to your knowledge. As stated above, this may lead to a family crisis within the home as your child begins to believe things you do not hold to as a family.
  • Drugs are readily available.
  • Sexual harassment may be rampant, though teen girls are usually “used” to it or cowed into fear and won’t say anything.
  • So is bullying.
  • The teacher-student ratio can be out of balance. I’m hearing of elementary classes that are as big as 30 kids these days, with only a part-time aid!
  • Because the teacher-student ratio is lacking, it may be a bigger hurdle for parents to be able to keep the lines of communication open with their children’s teachers.

Pros of home school education

  • Parents have the ability to teach and expose their children to what they feel they need to be taught and exposed to.
  • Homeschooled children often have a very close relationship with their parents and the family unit is strong.
  • Homeschooling can be especially powerful in the younger years, as this is when children are still forming relationship attachments and emotional development.
  • School can take place all day long and isn’t necessarily limited to book learning. Education may include helping mom cook meals and clean the house or helping dad in the garden and with changing oil. Everything can turn into an educational experience and it rounds out learning to all aspects of life.
  • Children are not exposed to sexuality, drugs, alcohol, and/or bullying.
  • Homeschool communities have a great sense of family to them that remains, even after the children graduate.

Cons to home school education

  • Like private school, resources and advantages are not available to children or high schoolers, leaving them somewhat unprepared for college (depending on what their major will be). No biology lab in homeschool can make for rough pre-med in college.
  • Children can be so sheltered that they experience a huge shock when they get out into the “real world” and hear swear words, see indecency, or hear of things like rape and murder.
  • If parents aren’t proactive about it, socializing can be hindered due to staying home all day long and social skills will not develop properly.
  • The parents, usually the mother, has to teach school on top of caring for younger children, taking care of her home, fixing meals, keeping up her friendships, and maybe even holding down a part-time job. This can be exhausting. She does not get a break, nor to her children get a break from her.
  • Because everything is a learning experience, families can forget to have fun just for the sake of having fun.
  • Curriculum can be expensive.
  • Curriculum can also be a confusing process as one venue may have a math program that works for your children but another venue has a great English and grammar curriculum.
  • Many states have laws about hours spent doing certain subjects and activities, how they should be done, and a demand for detailed reports submitted to the school district every month.
  • Being able to play team sports and be a part of things like drama clubs, band, and chorus are not possible.
  • Students are not able to have a real graduation, complete with walking an aisle, walking a stage to receive the hard-earned diploma, and standing in a receiving line with their class.
  • Senior trips usually don’t take place, causing a student to miss out on some awesome memories.

When I review my lists, the pros of homeschooling outweigh the pros of my other two options.

The cons however, outweigh the pros of public. As a result, I still find myself unable to decide what will be the best case scenario for my daughter (and future children). I’m thinking right now that I will do her elementary years as a homeschooling mom and then, once she enters high school, consider the option of public school so she can have all that type of education will provide.

I still have time before I made my decision — a decision that requires an education in the making, all by itself.

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