Homeschool vs Public Education: A Complete Guide for Parents


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"Homeschool vs Public Education, I wonder which is better?"

Has this thought ever lingered in your mind too when deciding between the two educational systems?  

Depending on which resources you've read in the past, you might've encountered articles that favor one over the other. But a biased comparison is the last thing you need especially if your child's optimum learning lies in the balance.

It's imperative to fully grasp the ideals and motivations of the two setups before anything else. And we're here to present all the essential facts and statistics you need in making an educated decision. However, let us tell you right off the bat that school education vs home education both have their pros (and cons!). 

Ultimately, you'll be the one to decide. And rest assured that whatever that may be, remember that learning will happen where learning is possible. As Elizabeth Foss once said: 

"When the atmosphere encourages learning, the learning is inevitable."

 

What is Homeschooling?

Homeschooling is the process of educating your children at home. As opposed to public education where a dedicated building is allotted for teaching a diverse collection of kids.

Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling's been the norm for centuries. it was the convention way back to the colonial era.

During that time, the combined efforts of parents, older siblings, and on some occasions, a hired tutor, were the ones that conveyed instruction to students. 

And if history serves us right, homeschooling was a system that worked!

But after several centuries, institutions began providing the same service in a one-teacher-classroom setup. This sparked the establishment of formal education — a system that also proved to be effective.

It's not surprising why advocates from both ideals clash in discussions. Both educational methods are effective in their own right, but it all boils down to a case of different strokes for different folks

Countless statistics and data proclaim why public school is better than homeschooling, and vice versa. But which of the two meets your child's needs better? 

We'll dig into that in a bit. But since you're well aware of formal education, here are homeschooling statistics to show what this system has to offer.

 

Homeschooling Statistics You Need to Know

 

  1. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, there are approximately 3.7 million homeschooled children to date. The majority of homeschoolers hail from the USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, and Australia.

  2. Homeschooling has shown steady growth for the past years hovering around 2-8% annually. Although in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of homeschoolers drastically increased from 1.9 million in 2019 to roughly 3.1 million in fall 2020. We may attribute this to the closing of some schools in the US which limited the perpetuation of public education.

  3. Brian D. Ray's research statistics on homeschooling reveal that homeschoolers score 15-30% higher on Standardized Academic Achievement Tests than public school students.

  4. Homeschoolers engage more actively in extracurricular activities than public school students. Research showed an average of 5.2 activity engagements, including community involvement and leadership skills.

  5. Racial disparities in homeschool vs public education, are eliminated. Statistics show that homeschooled kids, regardless of race, score an average of 85% in reading tests. Indicating the advantage of homeschooled children vs public schooled, especially in minority groups. 

Infographic on Homeschooling

Statistics provide tangible insights into why there is a debate on homeschool vs public education. Based on the metrics, there are some aspects that homeschool triumphs. We can't undermine that there are also areas where public education performs better. 

But are these parameters enough to select homeschooling over the conventional method? No. The learning setup you select depends on what would reap the most benefits for your child's learning. That said, below lists the respective benefits and drawbacks in homeschool vs public education!

 

Homeschool vs Public School: A Toe-to-toe Comparison

 

Why is homeschool better than public school?

A mother homeschooling her daughter

1. Tailor the learning to the students

The most obvious benefit of homeschool vs public education is custom-tailoring. Parents or tutors have the liberty to suit the lessons to the kid's learning pace. This increases the mastery and grasp of lessons than in a competitive public school environment.

 

2. Flexibility and availability

Homeschooling allows busy parents to be flexible in their schedules. This is one advantage of homeschool vs public education. It accommodates the availability of both students and parents which can help optimize the learning.

 

3. Safe and controlled environment

The incidence of bullying is at an all-time high at 20.2% or 1 out of 5 students are bullied. That said, keeping children safe is one benefit of homeschooling. Plus, the mere fact that the home serves as the school saves time and travel expenses.

 

4. Parents have more curriculum command

The difference between homeschool vs public education is that parents can emphasize certain topics or perspectives in the curriculum. This is especially important for religious or cultural affairs that schools don't discuss.

 

5. An opportunity to strengthen family connections

It would be a lie to leave out bonding as an advantage of homeschool vs public education. Aside from the learning, strengthening the familial relationship is rewarding in homeschooling.

 

6. The safer option

In light of the pandemic where cases are still on the rise in some areas, homeschooling might be the best option. It does its job to keep students safe from viral infections.

 

7. Learning for knowledge

Parents control the pace and progress of learning. This helps develop the adeptness of children on subject matters. The focus shifts from towards how much is learned, not how high the grade is

 

8. Opportunity to diversify learning angles

Learning is not just about manuals. With homeschooling, you can extend the learning to other non-conventional outlets like STEM toys. These toys are not only fun to play with but can cultivate children's affinity and learning in science. Our handy and durable portable microscope may help in this regard if needed.

 

Disadvantages of Homeschool vs Public Education

 

1. Limited socialization opportunities

Peer interaction in homeschooled children vs public schooled is lower. Inability to socialize with other kids may pose socialization problems if not addressed. Homeschoolers need extracurricular activities to meet that demand.

 

2. Immense parental responsibility is required

If parents are not invested and committed to homeschooling, the venture might fail. Parents need to assure that kids are following the schedule, and have a good grasp of the lessons. Discipline is key, and it's your job to enforce it.

 

3. Potential lack of learning facilities

One reason why public school is better than homeschool is that they have access to equipment. This includes a library, computer laboratory, art studio which are all essential for learning. 

 

4. Not many opportunities for self-esteem building

Recognizing a student's capacity, especially in a competitive environment encourages better learning. For example, the recognition of top-performing students motivates others to perform just as well in class. Without such, a decline in interest and motivation might occur. Another difference between homeschool vs public education.

 

5. Might be more costly than public education

Some believe that homeschooling saves costs from tuition fees and other expenses. But the truth is, sometimes focusing on the child can put the family's goals and ambitions on hold. Which has a more long-term effect on finances.

 

Why Public School is Better Than Homeschool?

A public school teacher reading to a group of children

1. Socialization and exposure to diversity

This is arguably one of the biggest reasons why public school is better than homeschool. Exposure to people from different backgrounds and cultures aid in developing social skills. These interaction skills will serve kids well especially in a professional environment.

 

2. Teachers are experts

Educators with degrees in teaching handle the teaching tasks better. They have gone through screening and training procedures to be capable enough.

 

3. Routine is child-friendly

Children are routinary creatures and they thrive best in systems with a clear pattern. The school is structured for that purpose, unlike homeschool that needs recalibration every now and then.

 

4. Variety of elective options

Options like sports or music where kids can join are available in public schools. Although kids can perform the same in homeschool, it is not as rewarding. Performing for school representation than for personal reasons is a liberating exposure for children. 

 

5. Independence

To some degree, home schooled children vs public schooled ones are more sheltered. Public schools train students to become independent by being responsible for their class schedules, behaviors in class, and grades.

 

6. Generally less expensive

Public schools do not ask for tuition fees aside perhaps from the miscellaneous ones. School supplies are typically cheap. Public school parents may also focus on their careers since they don't have to dedicate their time to teach kids. This increases their purchasing power while diminishing the education-related expenses. 

 

Cons of Public Education vs Homeschool

 

1. Bullying or negative peer influence

The majority of reasons why parents choose homeschooling is to protect kids from a negative environment. Bullying affects not only a person's education but even their social, mental, and physical health.

 

2. Limited learning potential

Public schools serve the general public and not specific individuals. This can pose a limitation especially if your child shows promise. The school will still pace the lessons to the average of the whole class which limits a gifted child's potential.

 

3. Lack of student consideration

While gifted kids might feel dragged by the class in public schools, kids that are a bit challenged can fall behind their lessons completely. Not everyone is academically gifted. This means they need extra support for their studies. An aspect that home schooled children vs public schooled ones, benefit from.

 

4. Influence of educators on viewpoints or beliefs

Some families have their strict standards, principles, religion, and cultures. Most of which public school educators might lack in emphasizing. This results in a shallow-rooted valuation of the family's viewpoints.

 

School Education vs Home Education Structure

 

Aside from the abstract differences, benefits, and drawbacks of each learning setup, there are also tangible variations that must be considered like the learning curriculum and physical environment.

 

Curriculum

How and what your children learn is a significant determinant in the homeschool vs public education comparison. You can observe a clear distinction between the two philosophies, but one approach may suit your child better than the other.

At the very least, both homeschool and public school cater to the rudimentary concepts kids must learn. Learning how to read, write, solve equations are fundamental. The difference arises once it goes beyond the common foundational understanding.

Generally, parents who homeschool their children decide what curriculum to follow. This may be influenced by the parents or by the kids' natural curiosities/interests. Sometimes, religion is the principal reason for the matter. 

On the other hand, the curriculum in public schools follows state standards. Schools expose children to pre-determined lesson plans. The primary goal is to surpass those state criteria. Public schools focus more on teaching children a plethora of ideas to cultivate a broader interest reach.

In a nutshell:

  • Homeschooling teaches kids fewer concepts but in a much deeper, more substantial level of understanding. 

  • Public school exposes children to a broad spectrum of ideas for students to see the interconnection of each subject in one massive network.

 

Environment

Homeschool environments are branded as calm and safe. After all, there is no place more secure for children than with their parents.

In homeschooling, kids do not have to deal with the peer pressure of "fitting in". This means that children can focus more on pressing matters, like their lessons. 

Having no competition but themselves is an opportunity to work at their own pace. Additionally, non-conventional teaching methods like educational TV shows or inspirational kid-friendly science movies can be integrated.

Some parents even report that math manipulatives or STEM toys are effective thought-inducing tools for homeschoolers. 

Public schools, on the other hand, are heavy on peer interactions. Some can even be negative. Being around a diverse collection of kids can pressure them to abide by the popular clique. Worse, forced to fit in with the “right” clothes from the “right” store.

Although the classroom chaos is arguably an integral aspect that develops a child. Public school also promotes social relationships and collaborations to thrive. These are team-playing skills valued in the professional environment. Just watch out for cases of bullying which destroy the rapport of public schools.

 

So based on environment, which should you select?

  • Homeschool is perfect for children who need to escape from the negative public school environment. Those who just want to “be” without being forced to become something they’re not. With proper handling, homeschool can offer higher quality education. While for kids that struggle in classes that need more time to cope, homeschool is a good option.

  • Public schools are best if you want diversified and competitive exposure for your child. If they thrive in social interactions and carry themselves well then public school is a viable choice. The competition develops their competitive nature. It allows them to power through their peers and perform the best they could. Learning how to collaborate early on, as observed in public schools, helps in the "real world".

 

The Verdict: Homeschool vs Public Education

 

Homeschool vs public education has been a lifelong debate on which works more effectively. But the truth is the decision of whether what method will be better for your child is in your hands.

We recommend observing your children for the indicators we have listed in the article. Talking with your child about their preferences and experiences is helpful too. Homeschool vs public education has its respective strengths and weaknesses.

Whichever is better is entirely your prerogative based on your observations and goals for your child.

 

An Alternative Learning Tool for Students

At the end of the day, whichever route you choose, STEM toys are great alternative tools to support your kids in learn through open-ended play!

Our STEMscope kids microscope is a good place to start. 

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