Deciding between homeschooling or sending your kid to public school can be all consuming. Going back and forth is…mentally exhausting! I want to help you get closer to a decision that’s right for your family. To think through some questions you haven’t asked yet.
I found it easy to find reasons why homeschooling would be great for our family, and harder to find criticism (from people who have actually homeschooled). But it’s really important to consider both the pros and cons of homeschooling and not just the benefits.
I personally grew up loving public school back in the day. My husband grew up in private school. And now we have chosen to homeschool our own kids. We are 1st generation homeschoolers, figuring it out as we go!
Making the decision was one of the most relieving things. I could rest and plan. I truly believe once you decide, you’ll feel a lot better.
Hopefully this post will open your eyes to see the pros and cons of homeschooling vs public school. Before we dive in, lets get one thing out of the way.
You are smart enough and capable enough to teach your kids…with or without a college degree.
You are enough!
I worried I wasn’t smart enough (with a bachelors in nutrition guys!) Or that it would be too confusing to know what to do. Or that I’d fail my kids. Or that they’d get behind kids at public school and it would be my fault. I was worried that they’d be lonely. All the fears!
Good news, there’s a TON of resources and curriculums out there now. You won’t be doing this alone.
If you are feeling overwhelmed about homeschooling, I wrote How To Start Homeschooling For The Total Beginner: Social, Curriculum, Schedules, and Legal.
And if you do go the public school route…you’re not a failure either. But your life will look different! You just have to choose which ones you want to tackle, and know that you can switch if what you choose isn’t working anymore.
Why I didn’t think we would homeschool
We decided to give it a shot “one year at a time”. I’m no experienced guru and definitely still feel out of place all the time.
But I gave myself one year to try homeschooling as a “test” to see if I wanted to keep going. There are many reasons why I didn’t think I would begin homeschooling.
- It sounded overwhelming!
- I’d have to spend A LOT of time researching so many things.
- If I chose to homeschool, then when would I get a break from my kids? I get overwhelmed without breaks. What I didn’t know until recently is that I actually wanted few hours here and there to myself, not an all day 5 days a week separation from my son. Not yet.
- It’s hard to be different. Everyone I knew (locally) was sending their kids to part time preschool and planning on beginning full day kindergarten.
- I loved my public school experience, and have fond memories all the way back to kindergarten.
- We live in a great school district.
- Fear of failure.
- Fear of not being “smart enough”
- I’m not organized in general
Why we decided to homeschool instead of go to public school
When my oldest was 6 (we started him later since he had a summer birthday), I knew I wasn’t ready to say goodbye for 7 hours a day. It crushed me to think of it. If I had a half day option, I probably would have sent him to school.
Yes, I had fears and hesitation about things he might hear too early, behaviors he’d pick up, and influences I wasn’t ready to shape him.
But wanting more time with him was my “why”. Wanting him to have more time with his siblings was also my why.
No more mid-day outings to the park, to the creek, to the zoo…No more slow mornings. I didn’t want to imagine splitting him from his sister, who played with him ALL day.
I worried his affection for his teacher could cause him to believe whatever he or she taught. I know one friend who had a teacher that told her the Bible wasn’t true in elementary, and she to began to doubt her parents.
And then I still had two kids who were napping. And drop offs and pickups would ruin the only time of the day I had to myself. Selfish? Maybe. But you’ve been there, right?
Homeschooling was the right choice for us
Now that my oldest is almost 9, we’ll be going on year 4 soon! I started with “one year at at time, one kid at at time” mentality…and now I think we are in it for the long haul!
Ready to see some of the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling I’ve found so far? Plus tips from mamas much more wise and experienced I’ve talked to? Lets begin.
Pros and cons of homeschooling
What I’ve found so far is that there are two main hurdles to homeschooling. If you can conquer these, you’re all set.
- Being with your kids all day.
- Figuring out what to teach them and making a plan to do it.
Number 1 has been my most challenging part of homeschooling and also the reason I want to continue. It’s also why I’ve seen people quit homeschooling. It’s hard to learn to be together!
I still get frustrated with my kids and need space (and we’ve been together since day 1). I won’t think you love your kids any less because you don’t homeschool.
Advantages of homeschooling that convinced me to do it
It was freeing to know that we were on our homeschool journey one year at a time. That helped me not feel as overwhelmed. And, the thought of giving up a lot of our daily flexibility if we didn’t homeschool sounded rough.
One veteran homeschool mom recently said to me, “I knew I could do kindergarten, so we committed to that. By the end I thought, I could probably figure out 1st grade.” And so it went year by year and now her oldest is 10!
Ok, here are some really good reasons you might want to try this.
1. You get to spend quantity time with your kids
I think a lot of special conversations happen by default of being together so much. It’s those random unexpected moments where they just tell you things!
Since I’m always with them, I’m also around to see when they are rude, selfish, or disrespectful. To me, especially at kindergarten age, this is a pretty big time to work on, well everything.
2. You are completely in charge of your schedule
Not going to lie, when I was considering public school for kindergarten I began to mourn my freedom. I’d have to pack up all 3 kids twice a day and worry about being late.
Not to mention being dressed with a lunch packed.
And, I love knowing I don’t have to answer to a school office for an absence. If my kid is with me, they are learning.
3. Siblings spend a lot more time with each other
You may be thinking, “girl, that’s no benefit”! I get it, a lot of siblings bicker and fight. Mine do too. But having my kids together all day forces me to deal with the “why”.
Believe me, some days I’d rather send them to school than hear “Mom, he took that from me!” (here’s how we’ve worked on that whiney voice) one more time.
But for the most part now, they adore each other. I’m so glad they will be each other’s best and most reliable buds. Even as they grow and their interests change, we have so many moments in a day where kid 1&3 go play nerf wars, or kids 2&3 go out to swing, or kids 1&2 bond over magnatiles and calico critters.
We REALLY want our kids to grow up with a special, strong bond. School kids move away, friends come and go. Siblings will always be there.
Homeschooling gives us…forces us to work on sibling friendships.
4. Freedom to travel on less busy (& less expensive) dates
It hit me that if we choose public school, the ONLY dates we can travel are the dates everyone else can too. Kids don’t get more than 10 or so days off from school at max without big consequences.
We now have the flexibility to vacation during less busy (and cheaper) times of the year. When my husband requests time off, we have so much flexibility!
How awesome it was to go to the ocean on a Sunday-Monday-Tuesday when all the weekends were full. Or to not think twice about missing too many school days if we wanted to go on a trip for a week during the school year!
5. Kids are home when my husband gets days off
Whenever my husband gets an extra half day or random vacation day off, the kids soak him up! And I shout for joy too because mama gets a break.
They are also home if he gets assigned a week of vacation time when kids are normally in school. As a resident doctor, he doesn’t have 100% say over the weeks he gets vacation so this is a big one to me.
6. Homeschool kids get WAY more time to play
A deal breaker for me for public school at the kindergarten age is how long the days are. I grew up going to half day kindergarten, which was perfect.
Kindergarten now is not what it was when we were little. It’s the OLD 1st grade. It’s too much academically, and kids need more play.
All of the moms I know with kindergarteners have said how hard it was on their kids that the days are so long. Not much rest time, too much unnecessary school time, and not enough play.
Not to mention their kids are so tired when they get home.
They will adjust. They will learn to live with structure. But I think kids so young need MORE play and MORE free time.
I don’t want my son’s most tired hours to be my only hours with him Monday through Friday.
7. Decrease bad influences and increase good ones
Kids learn from other kids behavior, and there’s plenty of variety at school!
I guess I just feel I’ve worked so hard on character training that I want it to be more engrained in who he is before sending him on his own.
A little over protective? Maybe, but I’m fine with that considering I’m talking about a 6 year old right now.
I also think you become like people that you spend the most time with. And so for now while he’s young, I want to be that person and to influence who his friends are.
We have found wonderful friends through a Wild and Free homeschool nature group and through church, and they are nice kids.
8. I can teach controversial topics to my kids
While my kids will learn about a lot of things I don’t agree with eventually, I love knowing that I can postpone some things until I think it’s appropriate and can explain it through our family’s values.
As a Christian, I know public schools don’t and can’t teach a lot of things I’ll be teaching at home. In fact, they’ll be teaching a lot of things we disagree with.
Young kids especially adore their teachers and tend to believe whatever they say. I worry some things could undermine what we teach at home or confuse kids when they are young.
If we do send our kids to school someday, I’ll just have to be very involved and ask a lot of questions. And keep lines of communication open with my kids about things they’ve heard at school.
9. No homework in the evenings
Parents I know with kids in school get pretty frustrated that they have to spend what little time they get with their kids in the evening doing homework. I’ve got friends spending an hour after dinner with their 1st and 2nd grader on homework!
That will never be the case if you homeschool!
Instead they have more time for other interests and can get the same work done in half the time. It’s just easier to be efficient when you are self taught, and have one on one instruction.
10. You control the curriculum rather than public school deciding
This terrified me at first. Because there’s a lot of options now, and the temptation is to think something else is better. That another homeschool family has the golden ticket with their curriculum.
But now that we’ve been doing this a few years, I love this!
If I see one kid isn’t responding well to a math curriculum, I can change it. For instance my oldest is doing Singapore math this year and I swapped my middle to First Grade Math With Confidence when she wasn’t liking her math.
Or if one reading program isn’t going well, you can try another!
A lot of curriculums will have a sequence for when you’ll teach what. But this got me thinking…who says you should teach American history or World history in a certain grade? Who says your kids should learn certain science topics in any particular order in elementary school?
A lot of this can be up to you! Curriculums take the guesswork out, but it’s perfectly ok to teach what you want when you want.
That was and sometimes still is hard for me to wrap my mind around! It’s taken my almost 4 years to feel confident my kids are progressing in different areas than they would be at public school.
And because their interests are different, they’ll spend a lot free time reading what they like that will REALLY individualize their education.
11. No school drop offs and pick ups
Traffic, getting in the car early mornings, waking up the baby earlier than I want to…happy to leave that behind for now.
Just today I came back from the park and drove past an elementary school pick up line. WHEW! 40 cars maybe? Not even kidding.
12. Your kids can learn at their pace
My son was interested in learning to read earlier than necessary. Here’s how I taught him to read with no experience. My daughter has been much slower, and I’m seeing it’s not a big deal!
Kids blossom on their own timing for a lot of things.
I worried my oldest was so behind with handwriting, only to really see it got way easier for him after he turned 8.
This has turned into one of my favorite benefits of homeschooling…watching my kids be good at different things and learn at different paces when they are ready.
13. Homeschool kids can sleep in
Get back late on a Sunday night from a trip? Stayed out past bed time at a friend’s house for dinner? Hurray for being able to let the kids sleep in till their bodies wake them up.
We don’t even use alarm clocks. Their bodies wake up when they are ready.
You also have the freedom to have daily rest time for ALL ages of kids, which I’d argue it’s healthy for all ages (even myself) to have down time mid day.
14. You will get better at not caring what other people think of you
No one hops on the homeschool bandwagon because it’s easy or to blend in. Family and friends will wonder why you are adding any more responsibility on to your already full plate.
And no one else will have 6 year old (and older) kids with them mid day at the grocery store or park.
When we first started homeschooling and people asked why, I’d list off all our reasons sort of “defending” myself (since I was insecure about our choice).
I wish that I would have known then to not do that. To simply say, “We’ve decided it’s best for our family right now.”
15. Way more outside time
Remember recess never being long enough? It’s because it’s not. Huge pro if you homeschool!
As soon as we got a fenced yard, I LOVED that I could make them go out and play. Many times a day. We often do some school, take a break outside, and then another subject.
Or sometimes we’ll take our math to the yard and do it there!
Nature study curriculum you can use even if you don’t homeschool:
One thing we’ve just loved this year is is using the curriculum Exploring Nature With Children. (Spoiler alert, you don’t have to homeschool to use it!). Every week you do a nature walk and learn about that weeks topic. A few examples are winter tree study, or wildflowers, fungus, or ants.
We have learned so much! I’ll do this every year as the kids get older almost as a hobby!
Also, check out this MEGA list of FREE nature study resources for all 50 states.
16. Kids will teach themselves a lot once they can read
It was so awesome when my son could read his workbooks! It’s incredible and frees me up a tad. My daughter is almost doing the same now too.
My oldest also spends 1-2 hours a day reading new books we snag at the library. I swear he learns so much more than I’d ever teach him because of how much he reads!
This is where homeschooled kids can have a truly unique education (even siblings will differ here) because they can read whatever interests them.
17. More time to teach life skills and good habits
With homeschooling, there is built in time to teach LIFE skills daily. Life is slower.
Yes, parent’s with kids who go to public school can also teach their kids things like how to do laundry, make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on their own, and empty garbages. But there’s less time together for that.
It just seems a lot easier to have those skills taught in a regular school day than after school and sports and music lessons.
18. You meet really amazing homeschool parents that “get it” and support you
Once I decided to homeschool I felt pretty isolated in my decision. No one else I knew here was doing it, and other moms would have time I wouldn’t when their kids went to school.
As soon as I found a Wild and Free nature group to join, I felt at ease. My kids would have homeschool friends, I could ask other moms questions, and I found families who’s day to day life was very similar to mine!
I also joined a lot of these homeschool Facebook groups for support!
19. You will learn a ton at the same time as your kids
An insecurity of mine is not remembering much of what I learned as a kid and not being able to teach my kids. One such thing is state capitals! Apparently I wan’t taught to memorize them or never did a good job.
I’ll have the chance to refresh my knowledge on so many topics as they learn.
And truly, I’ve learned that the homeschool curriculum you choose tells you what to teach. So don’t panic, especially if you’re starting with elementary aged kids.
20. Field trips count as school, and you can do them often
A lot of local places allow homeschoolers or homeschool groups to take tours! An offer discounts.
Plus, you can usually count on no kids over age 6 to be at the zoo, science center, or hiking trails on a school day. (Unless it’s the end of the year, then you can expect busloads).
21. No school fundraisers
I hadn’t even considered this one but I see a lot of my friends have to help their kids sell things for fundraisers. And, guilt tripped into buying stuff they don’t need at high prices to help their kid and the school out.
I’ll happily pass on this one!
22. Moving is less hard on the the family
Thankfully my husband’s medical training is when our kids are young, so they are very flexible and make new friends easily. However, we still have two moves ahead of us in the next 4 years. One for a fellowship and one for his first job done with training.
I think homeschooling will make moving easier in many ways. This is one reason why a lot of military families also enjoy homeschooling.
Cons of Homeschooling
It’s easy to be swayed by reading all the benefits of homeschooling, and if we ever decide to stop homeschooling I’ll miss a lot of them. But it’s also realistic to consider that there are some cons. Lets take a look at some.
1. The responsibility of being the primary teacher instead of support
Talk about pressure! When we first considered homeschooling, I thought how much easier it would be to send my son to school.
All I would need to do would be to get him there and he’d learn what he needed to, right? Plus a few things I wish he wouldn’t learn I’m sure.
2. A lot of your time will be spent learning about homeschooling
Before I knew it, I was reading tons of homeschooling blogs, googling how to homeschool and researching curriculum choices.
Homeschool parents feel pressure to pick the best choice for their kids and worry if they are doing too much or too little.
3. You can’t just copy another homeschool family and call it good
In some ways, I’d love for someone to just hold my hand and tell me what to teach and how to do it. The problem here is that my kids are different than yours or that homeschool mom down the street. So what works well for them may not work well for 1 or 2 or 3 of mine.
Plus, when you are getting started, you don’t really know what you like yet! Or what your kids like. Or how they soak in structured material. It’s all really a big giant experiment with your first and you have to step out in faith a bit.
How we homeschool now looks so much different than when we first started!
4. You are in charge of keeping records
This will vary depending on what state you live in. But in the end, you are in charge of storing and organizing proof that your child is being educated and “attending” homeschool. It’s more important the older your kids get.
You can find out homeschooling requirements by state through HSLDA.
5. Fear of being targeted
While we have a lot of freedom in the United States to homeschool, there are still some shocking cases of misconduct towards homeschool parents.
Thankfully you can become a paid member of HSLDA, a large homeschool defense association as they offer legal representation should you ever need it.
6. Being with your kids 24 hours a day 7 days a week
We had our 3rd baby in 4 years and 3 months later moved across the country away from all family. I was familiar with having no break from my kids since we started preschool at home with my 4 year old. And secretly, I longed for something to slow down. For time to myself.
Since we couldn’t afford a mother’s day out preschool program, I just figured kindergarten would be a time where something would be lifted off my plate.
But sending him to school for 7 hours is not really what I wanted either.
I highly recommend reading this post from Lauren at The Simple Homeschooler to see why she decided to homeschool for 1st grade even though she never though she would be a homeschool mom.
7. You are forced to deal with your kid’s behavior
This really could be a pro and a con of homeschooling!
When your kids are with you and each other all day, you can’t say things like “I can’t wait till summer’s over and the kids go back to school”. I hear this all the time.
It makes me think maybe parents are missing some of the good stuff. The part where you want to be with your kids and they want to be with you. (Not all the time, but most the time).
On the other hand I get it. Kids are hard work, exhausting, sometimes super annoying, and they get on each other’s nerves and can be so testy.
But homeschooling means there’s no “end of the summer” to look forward to and you have to 100% deal with how you cope with that.
Plus, you are forced to address sibling fights, whining, boredom, and obedience or else life at home is pretty miserable.
8. Kids may miss being with friends their age
Since my kids have never been in public school, they don’t know what they’re missing. And, they have each other to play with which is a HUGE benefit of having 3 kids close in age.
It’s near impossible to find kids the same age and gender as my 3, but they do adapt and learn to play with anyone 1 or 2 years older or younger.
Socially, it may be a challenge to homeschool an only child, kids with a big age gap, or very social kids who had great friends at school prior to homeschooling.
If that’s you, you can definitely still homeschool but may need a regular homeschool community to fill in social gaps.
9. You have to teach things you may have no interest in
You may not have loved school, and perhaps stunk at memorizing random facts. But you can be committed to finding fun ways to teach things your kids.
10. You may run low on patience
Need I say more? Clear boundaries are super helpful. I don’t know what I would do without a little recharge while all 3 kids are napping or resting. Here’s how we do rest time/nap time with 3 kids every day.
11. Errands will be with all your kids
Unless you plan to do things on the weekends or hire a babysitter, you will have your crew with you for everything. Groceries, doctor appointments, thrift stores, whatever it is that you do. It’s slower, and often boring.
But on the bright side it’s fantastic for kids to see what goes into running a household! And since you are at home most the time, these errands can be a good change of scenery.
12. It costs money
For some reason, I completely forgot that homeschooling would cost money! We did preschool for next to nothing, but that won’t continue. Here’s how much we spent on kindergarten this year.
If you are looking into buying a boxed curriculum where the planning is done for you, then those go from $300-$650 a year (though often can be used by other siblings too).
There are also much cheaper options, and even a free online curriculum called Easy Peasy Homeschool.
Utilizing the library will save hundreds as well as keeping your eye out for used curriculum on Ebay and Facebook groups. You will not be saving money by homeschooling.
Do the benefits of homeschooling outweigh the time and energy?
While it’s not as easy as adding up the pros and subtracting the cons to see if homeschooling is right for you, you can weigh each one. Find your why, for whatever path you choose and stand confident in it.
No one else has your values, your kids, your personality, or your abilities. Leave me a comment and let me know where you are on the homeschool journey or if you are still deciding! I’d love it if you’d pin this for later and come over and follow our homeschool journey on Instagram!