Which is better homeschool or public school? Like so much else, that depends. Wonderfully vague answer isn’t it? There are endless variables that contribute to one being a better fit than another, but the basic point is, they are different. There are different goals and strategies in each, both have the same end goal of educated happy kids but the means to achieving it are often very different. For the purposes of this article- I am using the term “public school” to encompass traditional schooling except in the section relating to religious education
What Are The Key Differences?
One of the most glaring differences in the homeschool vs. public school debate is the student to teacher ratio. In my local school district, a child would be lucky if he or she had the student to teacher ratio of 25 to 1. This is fairly typical across the US. Schools are crowded. Teachers are expected to teach a vast amount of information to large numbers of kids, each with different learning styles and different strengths and weaknesses. In my house even with my large family the child to parent ratio is 4 to 1 (in March that will change to 5 to 1) but still it is significantly lower than the school system. I also have the benefit of knowing my children well, I know what they enjoy, I know what they are good at and what needs work. I know them. Teachers are given a new class at the start of a school year and expected to figure it all out almost immediately- it is seemingly impossible!
Schools are small societies with a social hierarchy with a power structure. Many people who are not familiar with alternative schooling methods express concern over a homeschooled child’s ability to socialize. The definition of socialize is key here- if it pertains only to a child’s ability to talk and relate to peers then this is usually almost a non-issue. If a homeschooled child goes to the park, plays sports, has neighborhood friends, he or she will learn how to be social. However, when adults are discussing the concern regarding a homeschooled child’s ability to socialize they are often (and usually unknowingly) taking it a further step: that a homeschooled child will not know how to compromise and go along with the values of the larger society. This to me is almost funny. I love that homeschooled children hold firm and question society and the power structure. How can we as a culture hope to grow if we accept things without question?
Public U.S Schools – Secular or Religious?
In the US public schools do are entirely secular in nature. Religion is not discussed unless it pertains to history or similar. Because of the strict separation of church and state, schools are not permitted to observe anything related to a religious holiday or festival. Many families elect to homeschool precisely because of this void. They believe that an education should be based in faith and contain moral development as well as academic achievement. While many families choose private religious schools to do this, other families either do not have one close, do not have the means, or the schools do not meet their needs. Whichever the reasoning, religious content is a key difference in homeschooling vs. public schooling.
In a similar vein as religious content public schooling does not require a lot of parental involvement or control. Children are taught according to the curriculum and lessons prepared by the teacher. Parents get a limited say into what their children are taught. An example: In my local school district second graders were given some information on puberty as some girls were beginning to develop at age 7 or 8. Parents found out about this after the fact when kids came home and had questions. Parents who elect to homeschool do not have this concern regarding their child’s lessons. This is one of the most crucial issues in the homeschool vs. public school debate.
Of course there are more differences between the two methods of education and learning, I merely discussed some that factored into my decision regarding homeschooling vs. public schooling. My opinions on each very well may be (and very likely are) entirely different than another parents. The point is while both options serve to educate children the manners in which it is accomplished are very different.