Education · Family · Homeschooling · public school

Homeschooling vs. Public School – from a Mom who Loves Both.

Autumn has come and gone and we’re already two full weeks into March! I have now had my all five of my children in school for a little more than six months. After 13 years of having non-stop chaos in my home, I used to wonder how these days would feel… No kids at home for half of the day. Only one around for the other half (he’s in kindergarten).

I had dreams of what this would look like.

Heavenly dreams of slow mornings, hot coffee, settling down with a good book in hand and a bowl of chocolate covered almonds in the other… Or maybe I would go on a run each morning.

Or strike off a few more books on my never-ending “to read” list.

I definitely thought I’d finish editing my book by now. And that it would be published already…

I had grand plans of organizing every single room in the house; touching up the worst of the nicked-up walls with a fresh coat of paint. Plus it was going to look clean all the time as there are no kiddos around to mess it up…am I right??

Even now I’m chuckling to myself because what was I even THINKING?!? Did I actually believe that the moment my kids got on that bus, time would just magically multiply for me? My ideas that moms with kids in public school must have nothing to do… yeah, those are quickly getting squashed.

If anything, this year has been a good reminder about the reasons I decided to homeschool in the first place.

So now that I’ve had a fair chunk of time with my kids in each, I want to give an honest look at homeschooling and public school. Hopefully, with taking a deeper look, the large wall that seems to hang between homeschoolers and those who go to public school will come down.

And we’ll realize how similar we really are. Our differences aren’t so bad either. My hope is that we begin to see that the “other side” isn’t crazy.

Or lazy.

Or bad for your kids.

One isn’t necessarily easier than the other. And honestly, both can be impossibly difficult but amazingly rewarding if done well.

Oh, and I almost forgotaren’t most Canadian’s going to be homeschoolers now for the next three weeks or more?

I had to chuckle to myself about this, because now all the people who have told me they could never homeschool… will actually get the opportunity to test that theory out. I’m willing to pay money, that at the end of the next three weeks, the children in their care will have learnt more under their intentional direction than in a public school setting. 

A Typical Homeschool Day… was not at all what my dream homeschool days looked like.

I had visions creating a curriculum a where science, social studies, ELA projects all worked hand in hand together. I also thought it would look more like the public school setting that I was raised in. And to some point I was able to achieve a bit of this. Don’t see what I mean?

To homeschool, erase much of what you know of public school. Set time schedules, hand raising for help, line ups, waiting for the kids that are ruining it for the rest of the class and subjects that follow a little bit of everything. Only to repeat and go more in depth year after year.

Homeschooling is actually much more freeing then this. And I found that it took considerably less time. Teaching my kids took a third of the time then a school day actually takes. This means I was able to pack more information into my kids before lunch then public school is able to do all day. This isn’t bragging about my teaching abilities, this is just honestly how much faster teaching goes with students who get real discipline when they misbehave and who would rather spend the afternoon playing outside with siblings, then sitting at the table alone working on unfinished assignments.

The most difficult thing was that I actually had to work out character clashes between me and the kids. This not only helped shape them and gave them opportunity to find their place in our family, it sharpened me as well! Impatience and outbursts of anger had to be worked on. It could no longer stay tucked safely away.

What I mean is this… when you only have to “behave” for a couple hours each evening it’s easy to never deal with character issues at all, rather go from “break” to “break”, merely surviving in between. But when you’re always with five children who are testing your patience ALL day long, you actually have to come up with a solution in order to function well.

Pros of homeschooling:

-Students learn at their own pace

-Less distractions

-More one on one teaching

-Flexible Hours

-Flexible curriculum

-Less wasted time

-Closer family connections

-Better values being taught

-Limited exposure to negative influences

-More affordable (You bet, more affordable! At least, it is for having five kids! Even when I spend $500 a year on curriculum, it saves me unnecessary school supplies, indoor/outdoor shoes, School fees, instruments, field trips, mandatory gift exchanges, teacher gifts, lunches, book fairs, etc). Public school is expensive!

Cons of homeschooling:

-Negative sigma- feeling isolated or discouraged from other friends and/or family members

-Lack of support

-Extra sensitive kids with uncontrolled outbursts (Which can also be a positive thing, when children are taught to properly express their emotions.)

-Some children struggle to respect other authority

-Narrow perspective

-Lack of Independence or ability to solve relational problems on their own.

-Difficulty with clashing personalities

-Very little down time or quiet moments

-Bored children

**Notice what ISN’T on this list? Socialization. Quite simply, this is a NON issue. In fact, in this day and age I would argue that most homeschoolers are more socialized than public schoolers. They are able to talk with a variety of ages… (adults, peers AND younger children) most of them aren’t glued to their personal devices, unlike most public school children. Especially those with siblings and support groups, in my opinion are FAR ahead socially. The real argument is do they “fit in”? And my response to that would be… do you want them to? Do you want them to gossip? Show disrespect to teachers? Mock those who are weaker than them? Look up inappropriate YouTube videos?

No, in this sense, my kids do not fit in. And I’m 100% happy with that.

A Typical Public School Day:

So let me just clarify a few things:

– There are no leisurely mornings… I run around like a crazy woman making sure everyone has clean clothes, lunches packed, homework done, books to return for library, gym clothes for class, flute or trumpet for band, clean shoes, washed faces, clipped finger nails, breakfast eaten, and on and on and ON!! My neighbours can probably hear me yelling through the walls, “HURRY UP! YOU’RE GOING TO MISS THE BUS!!”

– There is no extra time….After the kids are gone it looks like all my possessions were thrown into a topless blender and vomited all over the house.

– My days are more chaotic than ever.

So yes, you probably understand the chaos in the mornings and the homework/ extra curricular schedules in the evenings. But what do Mom’s really do between those 7 hours from 9-4pm. That’s a lot of time!!!

First I clean up. Dishes, lunch meats still sitting on the table, breakfast items, socks thrown around on the ground in a panic. Forgotten papers for me to sign.

An hour or two later, the house is finally tidy (not clean, tidy, there’s a HUGE difference).

Then the phone begins to ring…

“Mrs. Bergen, I have your son here in the office with chest pains..”

“Mrs. Bergen, your boy really injured his foot today at recesss…”

“Mom I forgot my…” click.

It is now 10:30 and I have approximately 1 hour left before my youngest son comes home on the kindergarten bus. And yes it’s only one kid, but can we just acknowledge that one child is often harder than having five??? I am his only entertainer ALL afternoon!!

Anyways usually, it’s halfway through the morning before I can even start my “to do” list.

Where is this “Glorious Freedom” I was told about? I have come to realize, it is there. I really just have to stop and notice it.

It’s in the peaceful silence as I work and clean.

It’s in the mornings I decide to push off the cleaning and go for a run.

It’s in the cup of coffee I drank that stayed hot.

It’s in the muffin I did not have to share.

There is a difference to being alone, and it is most refreshing!

I established early on that if I was staying at home while my kids were in school I would not waste my time. The temptation for moms to “Netflix binge” is all too real. To safeguard myself, I established firm rules for the days I do find myself with extra time:

1) I do not watch Netflix while my kids are at school and my husband is at work. I do not turn on the T.V. Period. I do not spend time on social media while they are at school. (WordPress is the only social media that I’m currently on). Wasting time on my phone or other devices would be incredibly unfair to my family.

2) Only one social outing a week while the family is at school/work. Again, how is it fair if my children are working all day and my husband is providing all day for our family and I am lounging around?

3) I get all the housework/cooking done while the family is away so that we can make the most of our family time together in the evenings. Yes I make most of our meals and lunch snacks from scratch. It’s healthier and it saves us A TON of money. The secret to living off of one income: Budget well and eat at home. Seriously.

4) The only shopping I do during the day is for necessities. Therefore, I do not waste time browsing stores for my enjoyment.

You may wonder, why all the rules? Quite simply, because our society sees stay at home moms as lazy, particularly once kids are in school. I know this can be true. But I also know, that if done well, stay at home moms are vital to the family unit and to society.

Who else has the time to volunteer in the school system and help struggling children learn to read?

Who else has the time to visit the sick, give meals to the weary or babysit for those who desperately need?

How about public schooling on the students side of things?

The first thing my kids noticed about public school was the noise. It was so loud and distracting! The kids were constantly interrupting the teacher and showing disrespect. My kids honestly felt terrible for the teacher and found it hard to work.

They did enjoy having weekly activities that we did not get to do at home (for instance: music class, phys ed, science labs, after school sports, track and field, etc.) I just simply could not fit all these things in for them, but the school system can!

They also enjoyed making new friendships, hearing new perspectives on life, having recess and lunch with kids their own age, being able to have friends their ages to relate to their struggles on a new level! This was all very wonderful to see!

I also appreciated that there were areas I never taught because I didn’t know how like French and art. Our kids have grown to love these subjects, and I’m so glad that they’ve had the opportunity to study them!

Pros of public school:

Consistent routine and schedule

-Close friendships

-Unique opportunities

-A larger worldview/different perspective

-Space away from parents (Yes I listed this as a good thing! There are some homeschooled children who are smothered by their parents in an unhealthy way.) They do need space to make their own choices and freedom to grow!

-The variety of subjects/courses

-Independence

Cons of public school:

-Homework

-Less Free time

-Overly busy schedule

-Negative influences

-Costs and pressure to do more outings

-Distractions and noise

-Disrespect to teachers

-Lack of individuality in teaching that is often needed for students, especially ones with minor learning disabilities (Although to be fair I think the school system has improved tons in the last few years in this area).

-Lack of supervision

So there you have it! I know I’ve missed some of the pros and cons and there’s so much more I could write. But this is a starting point to better understanding both sides. I’ve learned to appreciate both public/private school and homeschool and I’m so thankful that I live in a country that allows me to choose!

23 thoughts on “Homeschooling vs. Public School – from a Mom who Loves Both.

  1. As someone who was home educated but might end up sending my daughter to school, I appreciated this balanced perspective. Having been to school aged 16-18, I’m not dogmatic either way either 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! I find so many people that are dead set one way or the other, usually, an unbalanced perspective is a sign of us not fully understanding the other side! All the best as you decide what’s best for your daughter!

      Like

      1. I don’t think it’s a case of right and wrong but about what the best of two legitimate options are, and that will look different in different contexts. Thanks 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for taking the time to think through this and write it all down. My two children were in a private Christian school, but have now been homeschooled the past 3. Now that all schools are closed and all are forced to adapt to home instruction that is school led, I do hope we we can appreciate all forms of schooling and that parents want what’s best for their child(ren).

    Side note: I think it may be harder to administer school led education at home because while it provides the curriculum, it also dictates the quantity of work and when it is due. I think it is easier when you can schedule those things in an individualized way for each child, especially when there are learning differences.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree! I think we will learn to appreciate a lot of things that we have taken for granted after this pandemic! And I totally agree about trying to administer school led education at home! That will definitely be a challenge, especially since many may not have any idea of what the teachers have been teaching until this point!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good for you on your stay-at-home mom rules. I’m not quite as productive as you are, but I also have rules. The biggest one: no TV during the day. My mom was an excellent example in this area. Although, now that I’m entering the writing/blogging world, I’m finding that laptop time is sucking away my day, even when I’m well intentioned. I’ll have to set some boundaries there, soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s human nature to find ways to waste time! Lol! My current time wasters are games on my phone, which sometimes I delete when it gets really bad… Also I’m a bit of a day dreamer and can totally zone out for an hour without doing anything. But yes, the boundaries I’ve put in place have helped me to be a lot more productive!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I admit that I had to skim a few sections because my now-homeschoolers are getting into things… 😀 Our experience has been exactly what you describe. I don’t have a bus, do have a kindergartener… I’m driving around so much that, compared to now, I get less done. When we have a system in place, we all accomplish more when we’re all home.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with Robert’s comment about the importance of your balanced perspective. It’s lovely to hear! I am very pro home education; however I actually loved school myself and am happy to discuss with my children as we go along to check that this is what the still want to do. I think your post shows a fantastic respect for both systems and helps reduce the polarisation that can happen in education. Thanks for sharing and you’re doing a great job! Five! Gosh..

    Like

  6. As a teacher for over two decades, my friends and I worked hard to prepare these students, getting them to know the basics to mastery, but more so to think for themselves. We firmly believe, that education as it stands, is a thing of the past. Young people, learning at home, some with tutors, perhaps online, perhaps in private, will do far better. As the years passed, I saw students becoming less educated with each passing year. We worked hard to reverse that trend, but always at political costs. Yet, when I talk with home schooled, charter schooled, private schooled students, they are far and above. Which begs the question.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The academic studies confirm your first hand experience as well. I share that vision of the future of K-12 education. I consider homeschooling the golden standard, though I realize it can’t work for every family today (e.g. single parent households). I’m very concerned by what appears to be a growing anti-homeschool movement that touts the idea of making homeschooling illegal.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That is concerning! I’m hoping now, with many students around the world at home, the world will be able to see the positives about homeschooling and that it isn’t as horrible for children as many fear! Maybe families being forced together will help our current systems rethink their teaching strategies 😊 Hopefully, some of the ignorant attitudes about homeschooling will be changed.

        Like

      2. That’s the hope. Since the 80s, perhaps before, a downslide in education was increasing, but that was never to the students’ best interests. When I read about the education those of generations past, and the education in Japan and other countries, we could cry. There’s so much opportunity for educational excellence in this country, but it takes time to reverse perception.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. What is education supposed to be about? Preparing the youth for adulthood. Each family is responsible for their own children. Not the state. The state is supposed to respond to our requirements within the framework of the Constitution. Public education is to be responsible to the families, but families need to be responsible for their children.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Absolutely! You are so right… the problem is that few parents are truly willing to be responsible for their own children. They want others to do the work for them and then blame society when it goes sour!

        Like

      5. Changes sometimes are difficult and take time. People need to be educated about what real education is, and that takes time. We worked hard to ensure, when students left our classes, they were academically much stronger, and that takes determination. But at home, parents can develop lessons, projects, field excursions, and more, and at their children’s pace. This opens a ton of opportunities. And that’s the key. Preparing the youth for adulthood so they can be successful in their own right is what education should be, along with knowing our true history.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Times are always changing. I love learning about astronomy, friends and I with telescopes, reading some materials on nebulas and exciting new discoveries. As a kid/teen, finding out that most of the stars we don’t see, but the light coming to us from thousands, even millions of years ago, was awe inspiring. Then, later, to find out space is continually growing at break neck paces. Wow! I remember a student asking into what is space growing? While we’ll probably never know, it does make for interesting pondering. **Then, as a kid, pouring through insects in the children’s encyclopedia. It’s no wonder some scientists spend their lives learning about amazing creatures. When I found out that there is a tiny insect, kind of like a hornet, that lays its eggs inside dragon flies, I was glad I was not a dragon fly, but it opens a world of wonder. **Topics like these, including the myriad of inventions, inventors, paths to getting one, and carreer opportunities with professionals speaking to students should be part of what our youth grow up. I always saw my job as preparation, not what it turned into. At home, parents have all the resources available, and can help their children find interests which leads to so much.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s