Because this post turned out to be a major hit with Google, I have revised it to reflect my views now that I have 2 years of home-school under my belt. And by the way, we are returning to “regular school” this fall. We will actually be using a Christian school run by our church. Our youngest son is only 3, so he will be my only one still home with me.
First, we did try public school.
We were fortunate to belong to an amazing community with a high performing school. Our neighborhood elementary school in Northern Virginia tested well above the national averages. While that was great, and my boys were pretty happy at school, no school is perfect.
See, my boys had trouble paying attention to things that they are not interested in, especially in large group settings. I don’t mean they day dreamed a little. They day dreamed so much that their teachers tried to interject my boys’ names into every few sentences to encourage them to listen.
Now that they are older I think this has actually improved, but back then I was all throwing my hands up and feeling discouraged.
That’s my biggest hang-up with public schools and my boys: Large groups. Joshua’s second grade classroom had 28 students and 1 teacher. The 1st grade class had 26 students and 1 teacher. Has anyone stopped to realize what we’re asking our teachers to do here???
I attempted teaching public school 1 year, 10 years ago, in a low income area of Texas. That was a class of 19 students, in a combined 3rd/4th grade classroom, and it was a HUGE job. I was fresh out of college and had little experience with children, so it was too much for me.
Think about it. 26 1st graders–in 1 room–with 1 teacher. Do you really think that teacher has any time whatsoever to give any individualized instruction? I doubt it.
So I confess, I thought I could do better myself. The boys and I took on home-schooling for the past two years.
It was painful for me. I was mostly stressed and miserable. The boys grew to like it because 1.) no home work 2.) shorter school days and 3.) so many pajama days.
But for me it was more stress than I could handle. I was not one of those ‘fun’ teacher types, doing cool experiments and building forts and playing games. I was more like, “Hey, look, I don’t care if you think it’s hard. The book says we have to do it, so please just do it now so we can be done with this already.”
Yeah…..teaching was so not my thing. Good things did come out of it, mostly personal growth for myself: I learned that it’s important to accept help from others. I prayed more.
Also, good things came out of it for my boys. They grew even closer together. My oldest had needed an attitude adjustment before we started home schooling, but over the past two years he matured in character in manifold more ways than I expected, and I am incredibly proud of him.
But I will never home school again. The stress and unhappiness made me physically ill. Literally, I am now on heart medication.
But some people love it, so don’t take that to mean I’m anti-home schooling. You may be an AMAZING teacher-mom. But if you do go for it, I hope you find some things to delegate. You aren’t supposed to have to be everyone and everything to your family. People need other people.
Also, I think it’s important to mention that some of us are a better fit for public schools, private schools, or home schooling than others. One kid may thrive in one environment, while another thrives in the opposite. We all have to choose what works best for our particular situation.
So let’s see the list!
Public School Pros Vs. Cons
- It frees up time for you to spend with your pre-schoolers during the day.
- It gives you breathing room and less stress in some ways.
- The kids get to make friends at school.
- They must learn how to function in a highly ordered environment.
- Children must learn responsibility of turning in assignments on someone else’s timeline.
- The kids learn skills of dealing with people of diverse backgrounds.
- They learn to eat new foods in the lunch room, and you don’t have to even get involved. (And that’s coming from a mom of a severe nut-allergy kid.)
- The burden of your children’s education does not lie squarely on your shoulders alone.
- having to trust whatever random teacher your kids are placed with
- not knowing what they are doing all day and whether they are paying attention at all
- having to re-teach many things they learned at school when they get home…..because they weren’t listening
- dealing with them occasionally not bringing home their homework assignment
- your kids being taught things at school that you don’t actually agree with
- your kids not learning what success feels like because their attention problems are getting in the way
- no one-on-one instruction
- They dislike school.
- summer not beginning until practically July
- Sometimes I feel like I don’t see them at all between school, homework, and extracurricular activities.
- lots of negative outside influences on their attitudes
- learning lots of trash talk from friends (Think back. You remember this from your school days, right???)
PRIVATE SCHOOL (Christian school):
Same as above, but also:
- They learn Christian principles and morals that I actually DO agree with. (Be sure to thoroughly vet what your school of choice teaches. Know what denomination it is and what that means.)
- Their environment is like-minded.
- They learn Bible verses that will help them for the rest of their life.
- So important: Smaller class sizes!!
Same as for public school, but also:
- It costs a lot of money.
- They would have to be “car riders.”
- If it is a prestigious school, there may be homework and stress overload. Be sure to check on that. Thankfully, the one I’m choosing assigns very little homework, or so they tell me. Here’s hoping!
- Life would run more on your own time table.
- You can choose a curriculum that fits the needs of each child.
- 1:4 teacher/student ration allows for more individualized instruction
- better for their attention problems
- more time with your children
- less outside influence on their attitudes and language (if only I can also control MY mouth)
- You might enjoy planning their lessons.
- Fun field trips. Home school day at the aquarium!
- Home school co-ops often offer 1 or 2 day/ week of all the arts or P.E.
- Your kids will probably enjoy it.
- You have to learn to be more structured.
- They may not learn the same coping skills they’d learn at school for dealing with difficult people and focusing in large groups.
- a LOT of work for Mom
- no freedom for Mom whatsoever–ever
- Will you be able to have patience with them?
- Wearing so many hats is stressful.
- You may feel isolated from being home teaching everyday. (I felt extremely isolated.)
- You will either like it, love it, or hate it. If it makes you want to poke out your own eyeballs, just stop.
OK. Your turn to chime in! What have you chosen for your children? What do you love about it?
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 12:15
Of course, in the end, we will choose what we think is best for our particular children, based on lots of research, thoughtful consideration, and prayer.
This is our first year trying out a private school. Have any of you had positive experiences with public or private schools? Have any of you felt run down from home-schooling? Just checking because I think I need to belong to some sort of Home-School-Teacher Drop Out Support Group! Ha!!
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