The National Home Education Research Institute reports that there are more than 2.3 million homeschool students in the United States right now. This figure has been rapidly climbing since 2010, with some years seeing 8% growth. Homeschooling is the traditional educational practice that was once considered an alternative form of instruction, but it is now becoming a mainstream choice for students of all capabilities. Some public schools even offer it as an option for the most gifted and talented students in their district.
It Is often far cheaper to educate students in the home environment when compared to the structure of modern public schools. In the United States, the average taxpayer supports each student to the tune of more than $11,000, plus capital expenditures, to create a positive learning environment. Homeschooled students cost virtually nothing to the taxpayer because the family picks up the tab.
Although there are some stereotypes involved with homeschooling, it is just as diverse as the public school population. You will find Christians, atheists, liberals, conservatives, families in poverty, and households with enormous wealth all looking at the pros and cons of public schools compared to homeschooling.
If you are thinking about making a switch, then here are some of the key points to consider.
List of the Pros of Public Schooling vs Homeschooling
1. Public schools allow parents to work outside of the home more efficiently.
The design of the average day for public schools is purposely intended to work in conjunction with the usual demands that adults face in the workplace. Kids will get on the bus at 8am, and then return home around 4pm during each weekday (save for early release days, holidays, and some teacher work days). That makes it possible for a two-parent household to make ends me it better because both adults can work outside of the home full-time without the added financial burden of daycare expenses.
2. Public schools are still an affordable option compared to other outcomes.
Homeschooling is still cheaper than a public school, but for the average household, attending classes through the local district is still an excellent financial consideration. The average cost of a boarding school in the United States was more than $24,000 in 2017. If you attended classes at a school that was independent of affiliation, your price would be even more than that. Many families can attend the local public school without an additional expense beyond their tax liabilities. That is why it is such an affordable option. Everyone in the community chips in to provide an effective learning environment.
3. Public schools offer access to more diversity.
When children attend a public school, then they are more likely to encounter other people that don’t look, act, or think exactly like they do. It is an opportunity to learn about different cultures, income levels, and perspectives that homeschooling does not always provide. There are even opportunities to work with other students that may have physical or mental disabilities. By understanding how humanity is diverse at a younger age, it creates a strong foundation that students can build upon as they get older and approach adulthood.
4. Public schools offer more extracurricular opportunities.
Students in public school often have more options for activities after the final bell compared to children who are attending a homeschool or private school. There are options for athletics, theater, and music. Although some school districts will offer these opportunities to homeschooled students upon request, this option is not always guaranteed. If a student is interested in high school sports, then in most locations, public school is their only option to be active.
5. Public schools require specific certifications that teachers must meet.
Teachers in public schools are generally required by their state or community to be certified in the subject material that they will teach. Private schools and charter schools do not always have this requirement, which means parents are not always aware of the level of training that their child’s teacher has obtained before being hired. Homeschooling often places the burden of teaching on the parent, which means they must be well-versed in all subject materials to help their students stay competitive with the local district.
6. Public schools allow students to have more social opportunities.
One of the most common complaints that students have when they are homeschooled is that they do not get to spend as much time with their friends when compared to their public school counterparts. When you attend a public school, then the connections that you can make are automatically there. If you are homeschooling, then it is up to each family to find the connections in their community where relationships can begin to build. If you are the only family that decides to homeschool or you live in a very rural area, then it can be an isolating experience.
7. Public schools offer a guaranteed schedule.
Unless there is a snow day or an unexpected emergency, you know what to expect from the public school calendar each year. Families receive this schedule at the beginning of the year, allowing them to plan for specific events in advance that might have a conflict with their regular schedule. When the end of the year comes along, you know whether or not your child will advance to the next grade. With homeschooling, parents must always be vigilant about motivation. Otherwise, the school year can easily extend into the summer months.
8. Public schools provide a glimpse of how the world operates.
With the development of homeschooling co-ops, there are more opportunities for students who learn at home to socialize than ever before. Where a public school holds an advantage is in its overall structure. When you are in control of your entire schedule as a homeschool student, it can be a struggle to adapt to firm expectations about what you are supposed to do or when you must arrive. Being in a public school creates an opportunity to learn how to manage these expectations so that it is easier to be successful once you begin to pursue a vocational career.
List of the Cons of Public Schooling vs Homeschooling
1. Homeschooling allows parents to determine the curriculum.
Parents have a lot more say in the curriculum that their children follow when they decide to homeschool instead of sending their kids to public school. Although there are state laws that must be followed in the United States regarding the quality of the materials are used, there are several options from which to choose that you would not receive if you worked with your local school district. You also get to be in control of the schooling schedule, which means you can work around family needs more often without having an extensive back-and-forth with administrators.
2. Homeschooling helps you to create stronger bonds with your kids.
Many homeschooling parents act as the teachers for their children when using the educational materials for each grade level. There is much more time for family bonding when compared to public schooling because the classroom is wherever you want it to be. You are spending more time together in a way that promotes conversation and bonding that is just not possible when working with the local school district.
3. Homeschooling allows you to move at your own pace.
Homeschooling makes it possible to adapt teaching methods to the best ways that individual children learn. Even when parents are using a K-12 online schooling option for their homeschooling needs, the teachers and administrators which work with the program can adapt to changing circumstances more quickly than public schools. If children need to spend extra time working on a challenging concept, then they can stay at that part of the curriculum until they have mastered the issue. This structure promotes a greater understanding of core issues that may impact the student later on in life.
4. Homeschooling provides students with greater safety.
The stories of school shootings that flood the news cycle each year create a rightful worry for parents who send their children to public school. You may never know when a text or phone call comes in that says a lockdown incident occurred at the school where their child attends. When you make the decision to start homeschooling, then you can begin to provide an extra measure of safety for your family.
It is an opportunity to protect kids from more than just school violence. There are fewer issues with drug use, behavioral distractions, and other adverse events which can sometimes occur in a public school setting. As a parent, you won’t be dealing with lollipops in the hair or gum being thrown at someone because another child thought it was funny.
5. Homeschool allows parents to discuss controversial topics with discretion.
One of the most critical elements of parenthood today is to teach children your family’s culture and perspectives on life. Even though kids may disagree with the perspective of the parent, the discussions on controversial topics can lead to more information and knowledge about the subject matter. This structure may not always be available in public schools. Whether the topic involves sexual education, spirituality, or the potential problems with common core math, the extra level of control that is available outside of public schools allows for a greater depth of individual learning.
6. Homeschool students often score higher on standardized tests.
Homeschooled students average more than 70 points higher on their SAT scores when compared to kids to attend their local public school. The average score on the ACT for homeschooled students is 22.8, while it is 21 for the general population. Although critics may point out issues with demographics and sampling, both boys and girls who receive homeschooling score in the 85th percentile or above on average – even when household incomes are below $35,000 per year.
7. Homeschooling allows for more play learning opportunities.
Public schools often stick to a specific schedule for play opportunities by incorporating recesses of 15-20 minutes a couple of times per day. Although there are in-classroom play opportunities growing in some districts, homeschooling provides this option whenever you want to have them. Even if you don’t get outside to play all of the time, there are STEM toys that can become part of your lesson plan.
8. Homeschooling provides more opportunities to learn how to schedule priorities.
When students attend a public school, their schedule is often dictated for them. That includes any extracurricular activities which they may wish to pursue through their district. Because homeschooling encourages more independent learning, it creates a situation where a student and their family must become cognizant of their educational priorities. You must learn how to identify essential tasks, and then manage your time in such a way that it becomes possible to complete them.
List of the Similarities Between Public School vs Homeschool
1. Both groups can take vacations during the school year.
In the past 20 years, the regulations that require students to attend public schools have eased considerably. As long as parents provide enough notice to their school district about a vacation or trip that they need to take during the school year, they have the same advantage as homeschooling parents do when it comes to schedule flexibility. Public school teachers provide assignments for students on vacation during the school year just as homeschool parents would offer to their children.
2. Both groups have access to multiple teaching opportunities.
Many states have encouraged their public school districts to identify students who would benefit from learning opportunities that fall outside of the definition of “normal.” You will find gifted and talented programs creating different classroom environments for students today. Teachers and administrators are creating pods in schools that get students away from their desks. There are gardening and farming program opportunities available to students as well.
3. Both groups can eliminate homework from the learning equation.
More public schools today are embracing the idea of removing homework from a student’s routine than ever before. Homeschooling doesn’t really have homework either because you are completing lesson plans based on the schedule that works with your family. Although there are exceptions to this similarity on both sides, many kids have their evenings free to pursue other activities.
4. Both groups can pursue curriculum choices that are interesting to the student.
Both educational groups have the opportunity to provide input on the curriculum choices that they pursue at school. Although homeschooling families have it easier with this similarity because they can choose specific courses based on their local requirements and resources, public school students are finding more choices available to them as well. The number of districts that are requiring study halls or filler classes to complete the school day are diminishing rapidly.
5. Both groups can still encounter bullying.
Although homeschooling will typically create a family environment where bullying does not occur, it does not eliminate this issue entirely. It is not uncommon for kids to encounter this issue at homeschool co-ops, at church, or even by other families in their neighborhood. It may be less prevalent than at public school, but bullying happens everywhere. Parents in both groups must teach their children how to recognize a toxic environment and how to respond to that situation to help protect their kids.
6. Both groups provide opportunities for children of any age.
You can choose to attend public school through the 12th grade in the United States, which is also an opportunity that homeschooling families can access.
A Final Thought About Public Schools vs Homeschooling
The pros and cons of public schools vs homeschooling must be taken from an individual perspective. There is no right or wrong answer that is specific to everyone when comparing these two educational options. Some families are more comfortable with the idea of sending their child to a local school. Others prefer to provide educational opportunities within the structure of their family environment.
What matters most is that each kiddo gets an opportunity to maximize their potential. Choose the option that will do that for your family, and you will have a successful experience either way.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.