Home school vs Public school? The debate continues and often turns into very heated arguments between the two opposing sides. Reading further, you should know that this article is not going to feed the debate or take any particular side. The side of the fence that you choose is your decision and I'm sure that your choice is the absolute best for your children. With all of the debates on whether home schooling or public school is the best for children it is difficult to know if you are doing the right thing concerning your child's education. The truth is, there is no right or wrong decision here. You can choose either method and as long as it is done appropriately, your child will receive the greatest possible benefits. Let us compare.
As a former homeschooler, I observed my children learning to their greatest potential. They had the freedom to spend more time on subjects they were interested in and that made a world of difference in the knowledge that they gained. We had the freedom to study anything we wanted but also had to meet specific subject standards. In the state that we lived in at the time, this was not difficult to do. We were able to meet the standards and still have time for learning about things we wanted to learn about. It all depends on your state guidelines though. Some states require a mass amount of documentation and specific subjects that you must cover. Others only require core subjects, which will leave you more time to do what you want to do. Check your state laws and curriculum standards to find out what is required in your state. Curriculum standards for most states can be found here http://www.oleyschool.com/statecurriculum.html these standards generally apply to all students within that state whether home schooled or enrolled in public school. Now as a homeschooler, I saw my children gain a vast amount of knowledge and enjoy doing it. According to their end of year tests, we could see the subjects where they surpassed the knowledge of their peers and also the subjects where they scored lower. Grade levels were calculated and they scored above grade level in some subjects, on grade level in some and below grade level in some. One of the best things about home school was that I as a parent worked closely with my children and could observe on a daily basis where they needed more work and where they did not. This allowed me the freedom to concentrate more on subjects that they needed the most help in. I was well informed and could tailor their curriculum to meet their individual needs.
Socialization was always one of the major questions that we received. While many think that socialization is lacking in a homeschool setting, this is usually far from the truth. We made sure that the children were able to socialize with other children. The main factor for socialization for us was joining a home school support group. Play dates, picnics, study groups and just hanging out at the park were things we did several times a week. Not only were we able to socialize with students who were the same age, but we also socialized with babies, toddlers, adolescents, teenagers, adults and seniors. This pretty much covered the entire spectrum of socialization. My children learned to appropriately interact with all age groups and learned to respect all of those around them.
Eventually my children returned to public school. Upon returning, I will admit that their grades did fall and they did struggle in some subjects and on standardized tests. The reason for this was mainly adjustment. They were used to a particular style and then had to change to another style. Adjustment will always take time but will eventually even out. After a year or so back in public school, their grades did even out and again they excelled in some subjects, worked on grade level in some subjects and we saw subjects where they scored lower.
When my children returned to public school, I worked very closely with the teachers and school staff, I made sure that I knew what they were learning, what they were having trouble with and what subjects they were scoring above average in. Anytime I had a question, I would write a note, or call the teacher. I visited the school regularly and kept myself well informed of my children's progress. While this is a little more difficult to do in the public realm, it can be done with some determination. By working closely with the school and the teachers, I could work with my children at home on subjects that they needed more help in. They still had to follow state curriculum guidelines and learn the same core subjects that we did in homeschool. They had a little less freedom on what they were permitted to study in public school but we continued instilling that thirst for knowledge after school. We set study times for after school during which they could do their homework and when they were finished, they had the freedom to choose what they wanted to work on.
Socialization in public school was a bit different than home school. While my children were able to socialize "more" in public school, that socialization was mainly with children their own age. This left out important skills that I felt were necessary as far as socialization goes. Even after they returned to public school, we continued to be a part of our home school groups. This allowed us to supplement the socialization to still include all ages.
As I mentioned, returning to public school after home schooling did take some adjustment and caused some setbacks. After my children returned to public school, we had to move to a new school district. Guess what we observed during this transition? You guessed it their grades did fall and they did struggle in some subjects and on standardized tests. The transition took some adjustment and eventually evened out just as it did when they transitioned from home school to public school. After a year or so, again they adjusted and their grades did even out.
Overall, as far as the knowledge they were gaining and the scores they were receiving, there really was not a big difference between public and home schooling. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. Each will need to be supplemented to some extent. As long as the student's needs are being met, the choice that you make for your children will be the best choice.