As we count down the days left until school starts, it’s a good a time as any to cover the ever popular topic of schooling choices. Specifically, whether to send your kids to school or keep them out of the school system and homeschool. Rather than trying to argue one side or the other, I figured it would be more helpful to get input from parents like you and me. Parents, who, for various reasons, have fallen into homeschooling, or tried homeschooling and switched to traditional schooling. I even learned about a hybrid blend of the two, called “afterschooling” — which I thought was very interesting.
As you read through the responses below, keep in mind that I asked these parents three questions:
- what you do and why
- the benefits for you in doing what you do
- what you find difficult about what you do
As you’ll see in the various responses, no two experiences are exactly alike. Whether you choose traditional schooling or homeschooling, there are joys and challenges. It’s all about what works best for your child, what works best for your specific circumstances.
I hope these parents’ experiences will help you if you’re trying to make the choice about whether to send your children to school or to educate them at home.
Some Parents Choose Public Schools
My daughter attends a public traditional school. She is bright (and quirky) and in third grade. We chose to send her to public school because there are really awesome teachers there, she has a strong quest for knowledge and I like that she has built in social time at school while building independence in a supported environment. When she gets home from school we sew, craft, bake, garden, and explore the world together.
The benefits are that she has the best of both worlds, learning at home and at public school. She is a very well rounded, thoughtful child.
It is challenging to find ways to deal with things at school that I don’t necessarily agree with. As a reading specialist, I was dissapointed that their spelling / vocabulary tests consist of the teacher reading the definitions and the students (from memory) write the word with correct spelling. My daughter is 8 and the words tested are words like surrounded (shut in on all sides: encircled, enclosed) and anxiously (uneasily: nervously). From my personal and professional opinion, these tests do not accurately measure vocabulary use and put undue pressure on kids. We have luckily found a way for my daughter to find success in these tests, whether or not I’m a fan, they still exist weekly!
Amanda Boyarshinov, The Educators Spin on It
My daughter who is also 8 goes to the third grade of a regular public school in California. Both of us work full time in technology jobs, and we don’t think that either of us could be a successful homeschool teacher even if we could “swing it” financially. Our public school is considered to be a good one in a good district.
My daughter constantly receives positive feedback from teachers and other kids respect her. This brings confidence. She learns to listen to different adults and to cooperate and compromise with her classmates. She is also learning to do what she doesn’t like to do or to be bored sometimes – I consider that to be an important skill if these “lessons” don’t happen too often.
My daughter is highly gifted, and public schools are not well equipped to support such kids. Everything depends on the teacher. Last year we had a teacher who taught to the middle, and daughter was bored more than we consider acceptable. This year after a lot of advocacy, they created a gifted cluster with a very strong teacher, but it feels rather an exception than a rule.
Natalie, Planet Smarty
I loved homeschooling my kids. But I hated the stressed-out mom I became trying to do it.
I loved that my toddler got to spend so much time with his older sibling. But I hated neglecting him most of the day to focus on their homeschooling.
I loved that my Preschooler was excelling at Kindergarten content. But I hated hearing her beg to go back to public school with her friends.
Now we’re loving public school, because…
My kids are learning more social skills than I was able to provide while homeschooling. They have so many friends!
I feel like my time with them at home is more quality mama time instead of stressful “teacher/school time.”
THEY are happier.
I am happier.
Krissy, B-Inspired Mama
Most kids go to a private school (with varying expenses) in India. Education is not funded and the government schools are not really up to the mark. we spend an average of 2500$ per year for the school fees ( 5000$ and upwards if you want an international syllabus) which is a big deal when you do the conversion.
Homeschooling is an option that is picking up but we don’t have support and since we both work in technology jobs full time, its not an option for us.
Education in India is highly competitive and rote based…My daughter is 8 and is doing well in school. They have a 1:12 student to teacher ratio and that ensures she gets the attention she needs while still functioning in a group setting.
Some Parents Choose Homeschooling
We homeschool for several reasons, the easiest of which to explain is the freedom it affords us. We get to learn whatever we want, whenever we want, in whatever way works best for us.
The best benefit so far has been that my son gets to go at his own pace and learn what he is interested in. He loves math and science and is able to explore those subjects at incredible depth for his age. Many times in the morning he brings me a book that he is interested in and we spend the entire homeschool day centered on that one subject, incorporating reading, math, science, and history.
I find it difficult to find time for myself and sometimes I feel jealous of my friends who get a break while their kids are at school! I love my kids and I love to be with them, but spending 12 hours a day with them can be a little challenging sometimes!
Crystal, The Science Kiddo
We kinda fell into homeschooling, only truly it was the Lord’s plan all along for us to homeschool our girls during each of the seasons of their lives we have done so
Homeschooling is hard enough already! Truly it is often a very draining, time-consuming, even grueling at times feeling endeavor. But other days it can be wonderful, and free-ing and downright awesome! Honestly, it’s just like any other area of our lives…. can’t just about everything we experience, at times alternate between awful and awesome?
Sybil Brun, She Lives Free
We homeschool. We tried two years of public school and it was a terrible fit for my kids (both are highly gifted). We are also a military family. Our options for schools are limited to where the army sends us and how far my husband is willing to commute to the base in order to (hopefully) find a good district.
In summary, we didn’t care for the curriculum, the pace, the lack of enrichment opportunities for gifted kids, or the social aspect. They had some great teachers (I still talk to two of them), but overall, that couldn’t overcome the issues. I can elaborate if you need, but I generally do that via email because I’m not up for the argument that I’m only concerned about my kids (I am, they are the ones I’m responsible for). I’m a certified teacher myself. Just spent the last 20 minutes doing polynomials with my 12 year old, my 9 year old is exploring ungulates. Everyone is much happier.
Would I love a break? Yes. And several. And I want to go to Starbucks right now. And I’d like to have lunch with a friend and take a long hot shower at noon. But I’m not willing to put my kids into a bad situation again in order to do it. The private school I’d pick is well beyond our budget, so homeschool it is.
We sent our oldest 2 to private school. When Eldest was in 1st and Princess was in K they began all day everyday K. My kids were gone from 7:50-4:20 each day. We no longer had the freedom to do things like trips to the zoo or playing at the park during the week. Numerous times my daughter fell asleep on the way home. I was pregnant with Big Red and knew financially having more than 2 in private school wasn’t feasible. We now have 4 and take a relaxed eclectic almost unschooling approach now. Trying to let each child follow their interests and be kids a little while longer.
Thaleia, Something 2 Offer
My life is dedicated to teaching my children, not only academics but life skills, so that they may one day be independent and successful on their own, if at all possible. I have found, for me, this much easier to do on my own, than to work with the public school system, teachers, counselors, therapists etc.
…In summary, I guess home schooling chose us, rather than we chose it. Both my husband and I went to public schools. We enjoyed our education. However, that type of education is not one that will work for our children …This is our story. It’s A LOT of work. It’s a HUGE time commitment. However, I love it. I love to watch the kids faces as they see new activities on our shelves. I love to watch them succeed.
Renae, Every Star is Different
Some Parents Supplement with Afterschooling
We do “after-schooling” which might be a made up term:). The kids do go to public school during the day. We purposely chose this school because it is extremely diverse in cultures and religions, and want our kids to learn side-by-side with kids from around the world. After school, we have fun with pursuing my kids’ interests whether it’s cooking, hands-on science experiments, animals, crafts, etc. We also love to travel and take field trips often.
Becky, Kid World Citizen
And then there are some more links I found that you might enjoy:
- Tsh from The Art of Simple talks about her decision to switch from homeschooling to afterschooling
- Jeannett at Life Rearranged talks about her decision to Hybrid Homeschool
- Part-Time Homeschooling, as discussed at PBS Parents
- After School Home School
- Parents decide to homeschool straight-A daughter after school labels her a truant
What are your thoughts? Did you go through the school system? Do you think it was a good choice for you? Were you given a choice, or would you consider giving your kids a choice when it comes to schooling options? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. (also, please remember this is a hot topic for some, so an extra dose of kindness won’t hurt!).