Homeschool or traditional school? Which is better?


After an issue at my daughter’s preschool (which I will not go into on my blog), I’m trying to open my mind to new ideas.

How does a family decide that they are ready to home school their kids? Were they raised in a home schooled environment? Is it a religious reason? Are they fed up with the public schools?

I’ve always been on the, “Ain’t no way I’m homeschooling my kids” side of the fence. My reasons were part selfish and part concern for their socialization. In my mind’s eye, I can’t see my house turned into a classroom of sorts with little desks and school work plastered to the walls. Is that how a homeschooling home looks?
I tried researching homeschooling online and just got a headache from all of the material out there.

So, what’s your take?

What are the pros and cons of doing it? Is it best to home school for the early years then move to a public/private/parochial school at some magical age?

If you’d never ever home school your kids then why not?

If you are all aboard the homeschooling train then why do you feel that way?

I’m currently sitting on the fence with one leg slightly more on the traditional educational side, but like I said, I’m trying to keep an open mind.

20 responses .

  1. jamie says:

    Start small, places like WalMart and Walgreens sell some neat little workbooks by The School Zone. Spend an hour in the book and another hour reinforcing the ideas with household objects. See how it goes. You may find that you don’t hate it after all, and can expand your curriculum as your daughter grows. Or you may find that your initial thought was correct and you want nothing to do with it! If that’s the case, search out charter schools or Montessori schools. Also, where I live we have homeschooling partnership schools where the kids attend school 2, 3, or 4 full or half days per week. Parents partner with the teachers and the other parents to complete the rest of the normal school hours at home. Parents get a huge amount of input into the kids’ education, the kids get social time, and apparently usually come out of it above average academically. Check around in your area to see if your city has something like that!

  2. Ali the Heep says:

    I and most of my brothers were homeschooled for at least a year, but not more than two kids actually ‘enrolled’ in homeschool at once. I was homeschooled for 5th & 6th grade, then put back into regular school halfway through 7th because I was goofing off too much while Mom was dealing with the other kids. (Besides me & Kevin being homeschooled, she had two or three kids under seven running around, sometimes with one going out to kindergarten half days.)
    You’re already spending all day with them, and it doesn’t have to be a “sit down and watch Mommy at the blackboard” setup. Bringing phonics into reading and math games into playtime could be pretty painless.

  3. Tara says:

    Oh, what an expansive topic homeschool is for me. I will refer FB friends here and then tell you my take when I see you soon!

  4. Drew says:

    I was home-schooled for 3 1/2 years along with my brother, after which we transferred *back* into public school (many of my brother’s credits didn’t transfer), and I know a great many other people who have home-schooled. From what I experienced and what I know, it isn’t even possible in a lot of places to do it completely from home anymore; the student still has to go to a home-school center a certain amount of days per week, take some tests there, etc. A major flaw in the whole home-schooling system, though, is that they’re essentially all Christian, and they teach creationism as being on equal standing with evolution (I saw it in my “science” textbook as early as 4th-5th grade), so that’s something to take into account. Another (pretty unavoidable, it seems, from all the students I’ve seen) issue with home-schooling is if you *do* decide to send the child back to public school, their social skills will be underdeveloped, because no matter how often you take them to the park, let them hang out with neighborhood friends, what have you, there’s no replacement for them being around 800-3000 people every day.

  5. Jacqueline says:

    We were both public schoolers growing up, and had never thought about homeschooling until our son spent a couple of preschool months in public preschool. Now the kids are 9, 7, and 5 and I can’t imagine doing anything different!

    Our home looks nothing like “school.” We have bookshelves full of art supplies and books, which we’d likely have anyway. There are no desks or chalkboards. We spend a maximum of two hours a day on schoolwork, and that’s for the 4th grader. Sometimes we do our work in bed, sometimes at the park, sometimes at the library. We spend the rest of our day just living. They have hours of free time to explore the neighborhood, ride bikes, play with friends at the park. No one is rushing to get homework dine before soccer practice, or stressing about a project on Sunday night. We take lots of trips to museums, zoos, hiking trails. We go on tours of bakeries, grocery stores, etc.

    They get plenty of socialization. Real world socialization. It’s funny, really. If I remember correctly, too much socializing in school is actively discouraged. My kids know how to carry on conversations with people of all ages. After all, I can’t remember the last time my world revolved around a grouping of 30 other 34 year olds. The real social world isn’t set up like school. My kids don’t think that anyone is too old or too young to be their friend!

    Our plan is to Homeschool through high school. When they are 16ish,we plan on having them take some basic classes as dual credit classes at a local community college. I work with youth from all different school environments. Kids can be successful wherever they are, with the right support and encouragement. But I have no desire to have my kids as stressed and tired as my publicly schooled youth are. The amount of homework even our 6th graders are coming home with is crazy. When you spend 7.5 hours in school already, there isn’t any reason, for sending home another 3-4 hours worth of work. It’s just not how I want our days to run. I live that they have time to relax. To explore their own interests. To just be kids. I love that family time isn’t an anomaly. And that our vacations aren’t dictated by someone else’s calendar. It’s just a good life.

    • I've Got My Hands Full says:

      Ditto, ditto, ditto! Great response!

    • Drew says:

      “It’s funny, really. If I remember correctly, too much socializing in school is actively discouraged” – that’s ridiculous. Of course you’re not supposed to socialize while class is in session, but public school is where children and young adults develop most of their social skills and studying skills, and to keep them at home and to let them socialize, but how *you* want is to deprive them of that. It’s going to work against them if you ever decide to put them back into public school, I guarantee it.

      Not to mention mixing religion into school is a recipe for an ignorant citizen.

      • New John says:

        Wow. It certainly must be nice to have all the answers, to see so clearly into other people’s thoughts and desires, and to know what’s best for everyone else.

        My favorite part was where you figured out she is doing this for religious reasons even though the topic was never mentioned. That took a special genius.

        Make sure you keep telling other’s the right way to live their lives, Drew. I’m sure all around you will appreciate it!

        • Drew says:

          At no point did I even come close to saying I could see into anyone’s thoughts or desires. What are you talking about? I never said she was doing this for religious reasons. Why do you feel the need to accuse me of such when it didn’t happen? I also never told anyone how to live. You just sound like the Christian dad of a homeschooler is what it sounds like. Make sure you keep being a jackass who argues points that he draws from nothing; people love that.

          • New John says:

            Drew, you said, “…but how *you* want is to deprive them of [social skills and studying skills].” This is your reading her thoughts and desires.

            You made the value judgement that people should not “mix religion into school.” This is your telling her, and others, the right way to conduct their business (i.e. don’t homeschool or you’ll produce an “ignorant citizen”).

          • Drew says:

            If you read the rest of the sentence, you will be able to infer that I meant parent controlled/observed socializing; I did not say she thought or desired anything, so again, where are you pulling that from? You’re purposely misinterpreting what I said, it seems.

            Also, saying religion doesn’t belong in school isn’t a “value judgement”, it’s a fact. The constitution says it; it has been upheld in court. Hell, the UK threatened to take away funding for any school that endorsed any religion in any way. Again, you just sound like the Christian father of a homeschooled child who doesn’t like the fact that someone disagreed. That is why you came here, though, I guess, to participate in the “I homeschool, too!” circlejerk and be agreed with and praised. Now *that* was me saying you did something, and I could be wrong, but that’s what it seems like.

          • New John says:

            In reply to Drew, December 4, 2012 at 10:32 am:

            Also, saying religion doesn’t belong in school isn’t a “value judgement”, it’s a fact. The constitution says it; it has been upheld in court.

            While I agree that gov’t supported public schooling should be free of religious teachings, I disagree that this applies to all other forms of education. This would, for example, forbid the existence of all parochial schools.

            If we were left with only public schools, our country would be the poorer for this uniformity of instruction and loss of liberty.

            …you just sound like the Christian father of a homeschooled child who doesn’t like the fact that someone disagreed. That is why you came here, though, I guess, to participate in the “I homeschool, too!” circlejerk and be agreed with and praised. Now *that* was me saying you did something, and I could be wrong, but that’s what it seems like.

            You are incorrect. Read my long response below: we homeschool for utterly secular reasons.

            My religion or lack thereof is something I do not parade in public: I don’t proselytize for belief or bash believers as dunces. You’ll find no references to either a personal theism or atheism in what I write. To me, it’s a private matter.

            I came here to comment because this lady asked for opinion and I had one based on my experience. I don’t mind that people disagree with me (if two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary), it was the fact that your opposition to homeschooling doesn’t match my experience, and seems to be based largely on an antipathy toward religiosity in homeschooling which I know for a fact is not as ubiquitous as you believe, which lead me to respond to you directly.

            My wife and I are secular homeschoolers. We know many other secular homeschoolers. It is a growing portion of the homeschooling movement.

            Personally, our instruction is based on science, ALL science, and not on religious dicta. What we teach our children regarding morality is separate from the content of their academic lessons.

            My guess is that were you to actually see what we teach, you would approve of the content. (Though you would still argue that going through years of classes with the same age cohort is the only way to become “socialized” as you define it.)

            I suggest that you have misjudged who I am and what I do because I do not condemn people who do it differently than I do and because we as a group, whether religious or irreligious, do it differently than you do.

            If you want to send your kids to public school, that’s your choice. More power to you.


          • Drew says:

            Again, no one condemned you or anyone else nor told you or anyone else how to live. No one said anyone was better than anyone else for believing in anything. I just said that’s what you came off as., which you did. I, too, saw that she asked for opinions/different stances, and I gave her mine, my brothers and I having been homeschooled until high school, and knowing several other people who were homeschooled and put back into public schooling at that time. If you’ll notice, after I posted that, I immediately got people arguing with me, although not directly. There *are* cons to homeschooling, and the biggest two that I know of are 1.) Religion is involved. There *are* small secular groups across the country, but these are nowhere close to being even a third of the programs nationally, and 2.) The child’s social skills *will not* be as far along as their peers in the same age group.

      • I've Got My Hands Full says:

        Hm…do you really want to compare the social skills of homeschooled kids vs. public school kids? Which is known for being polite to adults? Which is known for getting into drugs or teen pregnancy? Yes, if they go to public school after being homeschooled, they might be considered a little dorky because they don’t wear the trashy fashions and talk about the trashy TV shows. It’s a shame.

      • Jacqueline says:

        I’m not sure where you’re going with the religion argument… Especially considering that I neither argued nor mentioned religion? I am religious, and I Homeschool. But I do not homeschool for religious reasons.

        And I see no need to defend my children’s social skills. They are highly social people with a large group of friends from all different schooling backgrounds.

        Again, I fully believe that children can excel and thrive in any number of school situations, with good parental support! For our family, the right choice is homeschooling, and I’m happy to share our reasons with others when asked. :)

        • Drew says:

          I mentioned it because religion doesn’t belong in school whatsoever, and in most home-schooling material it is presented as being on equal footing with scientific fact, which it simply is not. No one said you were doing anything for *any* reason, however, this is one rather large reason many would argue you should not.

          Furthermore, I find the only people who defend the “Homeschooled children have *fine* social skills” argument are the parents or relatives of a homeschooled child. Do you even Google? Maybe look it up yourself like I did.

  6. I've Got My Hands Full says:

    I absolutely agree with the first post: start small! You can always homeschool the easy stuff and enroll later if you don’t like it. Homeschooling is much more popular now, and isn’t just for extreme religious reasons anymore. I started homeschooling largely because I want the freedom to travel out of town for more than just a weekend during the school year. Also, I saw that schools have become less flexible with individuality; students never move ahead or fail grades. At best you can move into gifted programs or special ed, but there is still a rigid program that declares the topics and doesn’t allow students to pursue their interests or take a break in the subjects they dislike.

  7. New John says:

    Homeschooling is a personal choice. People do it for many reasons from religious to a desire to spend more time with their kids to concerns about the level of education they would receive elsewhere. This last is why I wanted to homeschool our kids: to give them a better education than they are likely to receive in a “standard” setting.*

    Getting to your specific questions:

    What are the pros and cons of doing it?


    — You spend more time with your kids, giving you the chance to bond more deeply with them.
    — You have more control over what they learn. This means you can avoid things which almost everyone finds irrelevant to daily life. (What was the last time you had to translate a number from Base 3 to Base 8 or produce and use matrices?)
    — You can explore both more subjects (like Jacqueline taking her kids to tour a bakery as mentioned or, as we have, talking to a pet grooming shop about letting our daughter spend some time there to learn about what they do because she thought it was cool) than may be available in a classroom
    — You can explore subjects in more depth than is possible in a class. If you child enjoys bugs, for example, you can spend the whole afternoon / day / week doing nothing but bug-related studies and projects. Or longer!
    — Your children can find their own way, focusing on the things they find interesting and really coming to love learning instead of, as is too often the case, being inadvertently taught that “learning” is too often a chore to be completed rather than a joy to be pursued.
    — In this wonderful Information Age, there are literally thousands of resources you can find to help you. If you want a religious curriculum, it’s there for the finding. If you want a secular version, they abound. If you want to join a local group, they are all over the place. Pick any subject and you can find books, lesson plans, 6-week curricula, YouTube videos, online articles, etc. etc. etc. covering every detail you can think of (and many you can’t) in a much or as little depth as your child can handle. There truly are an embarrassment of riches available.
    — Following on this last point, you do not have to be an expert in every field or in teaching to educate your kids. You can *always* find a resource to help you out, even and especially for “difficult topics” like calculus, physics, organic chemistry, etc. Many local homeschooling groups usually offer teaching co-ops which can address these issues if you still feel uncomfortable tackling them yourself.
    — As my wife (I’ve Got My Hands Full) mentioned, your schedule is not dictated by others. If you want to take a vacation, you can. And you can stay as long as you wish.
    — Plus, learning does not stop just because you are away from your school. Imagine going to the Grand Canyon and turning it into a week-long unit about geology, geography, paleontology, ecosystems, anthropology, and more. Instead of just seeing pretty scenery, they get to marvel at both the visual beauty around them and the underlying information which makes it doubly wonderful.


    — You spend more time with your kids, which can be, let’s all admit, challenging at times.
    — It takes time and effort. Not because you “have to replicate school at home” but because you are accepting the responsibility and want to do what’s best for your kids. Having all the background info necessary to make that Grand Canyon vacation an educational success, for example, would mean that you and the kids would need to spend the time doing research prior to going so that you’d be better able to take advantage of the educational opportunities that arose. (Of course, that would be considered fun by most homeschoolers. ;-))
    — Depending on how you choose to go about it, it can be expensive. If you want to follow a name brand curriculum, for example, they can be costly each year as your kid progresses. OTOH, as I mentioned above, there are plenty of free resources out there that are of very high quality.
    — You have to deal with people who disapprove of homeschooling, sometimes vehemently so. Since this is a widespread phenomenon, and almost every homeschooler has dealt with it, a quick search will find many FAQs and the like which can help you find the best ways to respond to the questions and challenges people bring up.

    Is it best to home school for the early years then move to a public/private/parochial school at some magical age?

    I would not think so. If you find it works best that way, you would be free to do so. I know some kids chose to attend school after being homeschooled. Most of those I know of later decided to return to homeschooling because they missed the freedom they had enjoyed to learn as they found natural and to explore subject to their heart’s content rather than in one-hour chunks when the teach said they should.

    If you are all aboard the homeschooling train then why do you feel that way?

    No one can say for your specific situation what is objectively best. But think of it this way: no one cares as much for your children as you do; no one has their best interests at heart more than you. If anyone is going to do everything possible to give your kids the best chance of succeeding, you are.

    The homeschooled kids I know are polite, interested, and engaging. They don’t hide their faces in a PSP or smartphone and avoid talking to adults. They don’t give one-word answers to questions which normally require more. Even the natural introverts seem to demonstrate a self-confidence many adults do not possess. And they often have a surprisingly large and deep knowledge of the world they live in. Most importantly, when something comes up they don’t understand, they are interested in learning more.

    Whichever you choose, the mere fact that you are taking the time to think through your options rather than merely go with the flow and automatically follow the crowd speaks well of your motivation and dedication to your kids.


    New John


    * Our motivation is entirely academic and secular. We wanted to give my kids a better chance of success in life than to hope they managed to “beat the system.” I went to private schools growing up and my wife went to public schools and we turned out fine. I acknowledge that it certainly is possible for these systems to be successful. The question is “Is this the norm or the exception?” Given the statistics reported about our system over the past several decades, I fear the latter is closer to the truth.

    The fact that we are better able to guide their ethical development is great, but we were never afraid their moral compass would be “corrupted” in school in the first place.

  8. admin says:

    Sorry for the delay in response from me. Thank you all for your suggestions, thoughts, and ideas about homeschooling. I am overwhelmed by the willingness of “strangers” offering their opinions and advice. It seems that some of you have had a bit of a scuffle over the issues and that saddens me to see on my blog. I believe we, as parents, have the right to responsibly raise our children as we see fit. The key word is responsibly, right? If you believe spiritual/religious components should be in your child’s education then you should have the right to do so. If you believe that they don’t then that’s your right too. As long as our children are nurtured and educated in order to become productive, active members of society when they reach the time of adulthood then I think we’ve all done a great job. I have started what I’m referring to as “Homeschooling Light”. We’ve played letter and numbers games, gone to the zoo and learned about different animals (while getting to feed giraffes), sorted beads by type and color, and counted grapes (in English and Spanish) before eating them. I really underestimated the amount of learning that can occur on a daily basis in our home.

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