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Comparing Homeschooling to Public Schooling

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 1/5/2012

Should you take your child out of public school and start homeschooling her? That depends on how you understand the issues of homeschooling versus public schooling.

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    Educational Content

    Public school curricula are usually set by the local government, the school system, or possibly the school itself. Although teachers try to carefully consider each student's strengths and weaknesses and tailor their lessons accordingly, some may feel forced to stick to specific schedule or to "teach to the test."

    A homeschooling parent, on the other hand, can be much more flexible in terms of the material she presents to her children. She can give a child enrichment in his strongest academic area and extra help in his weaker subjects. She can focus on subjects that her child seems most interested in more than those that seem to bore him. She can even teach her child by helping him organize a lemonade sale, build model airplanes, or volunteer at an animal shelter, assuming that she develops these activities so that they contain valuable educational content. At the same time, a homeschooling parent runs the risk of skipping over important information that the child should learn, especially if the child does not enjoy a specific subject or topic.

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    Social Differences

    In public schooling, your child would be in a class of many children; in some districts, the class size is greater than thirty. A homeschooled child’s only possible classmates are siblings who are also schooled in the home environment. (Of course, some children do attend classes outside their own home, especially in subjects that the parents do not feel comfortable teaching.) Therefore, parents of homeschooled children are often nervous that their children will lack the social skills that their public school counterparts have. At the same time, children in homeschooling can learn how to interact with other people without the structure that public school provides.

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    Character Development

    Some public schools view their jobs as imparting academic material, which means that they leave a lot of character development up to the parents. Additionally, public schooling may impart values that are not the same as the parents' values, especially if the parents hold certain religious beliefs. Many parents who homeschool, however, take their child’s character development extremely seriously. They may even incorporate lessons about morals or religion into their curriculum. In addition, homeschooled children are not as strongly subjected to the peer pressure of classmates as are their peers in public school. Instead, their primary influences come from their families and other adult figures, who presumably have stronger ethics than typical grade schoolers or high schoolers do.

    These are the main differences between homeschooling vs. public schooling. The advantages and disadvantages are constantly debated, but there are definitely clear differences between the two of them.