If you’re considering homeschooling you probably have a million questions running through your head like homeschool vs public school, which is better? Today, we’re answering this question and 30+ of the most commonly asked homeschool questions plus providing links to additional resources to help you on your journey. So, if you have questions about public schooling vs homeschooling pull up a chair because we have answers.
Homeschool vs Public School: Why We Decided To Homeschool
So, a little backstory before we dive into the questions. We started homeschooling about two years ago. My daughter was in the 4th grade and went to an amazing school. People thought I was insane to pull her out and homeschool. I’m a single mom, have zero teaching experience and if I’m being honest, I was an awful student that skated by. I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried too.
We choose to homeschool for a few reasons. First, Reese was diagnosed with ADHD when she was five and really struggled in school. She often got bored in class, and once she grasped a topic, she was ready to move on. This became an issue because while she was ready to move on, the class was not. This usually meant she was always in trouble for talking or being disruptive.
Reese was an advanced reader (reading at the 6th grade level in 4th grade) but also behind in math. She needed more one-on-one instruction and a hands-on math curriculum. She loved history (especially black history) and her school just didn’t cover it. In addition, Reese was an actress at the time which came with auditions, days spent on set, and lots of missed school. Add our love for travel and educational field trips and homeschooling was just a better fit for us.
While I understand homeschooling is not for everyone, it 100% was the best decision for us. I had a lot of fear surrounding homeschool vs public school but I am happy I took the plunge. It is a lot of work and you do a lot of learning along the way but there are tons of resources (like this post) to guide you. If you are struggling with the homeschool vs public school decision give it a try, you really have nothing to lose. When we first started homeschooling we decided to test the waters for a year. I said If it turned out to be a good fit for us (which it was) we would continue. If it wasn’t a good fit, we could always return to public school with nothing lost. At the end of the day, only you can decide if homeschooling is right for you.
What Is Homeschooling and How Does It Work?
Homeschooling can be called many things. You might hear it called “Home School”, “Home Education”, “Unschooling”, “World Schooling”, and many other names. Regardless of what people choose to call it, what it basically means is parents have made the decision to educate their kids at home as opposed to using the public or private school system. Check out 7 Tips Every New Homeschooling Parent Needs To Know.
What is Deschooling, Unschooling, and World Schooling?
What is “deschooling”?
Deschooling is the process a child goes through when leaving traditional school and beginning homeschooling. To really benefit from homeschooling, a child should disconnect from the idea of traditional “school”. The thought is that all children are born with a sense of creativity and a desire to learn and that these desires have possibly been squelched by an institutionalized school setting.
What is “unschooling”?
Unschooling is a form of homeschooling that does not rely on a curriculum. It allows children complete freedom to learn in whatever way they are interested in, without following any set guidelines or instruction. This can be an attractive option for parents who want to allow their children more freedom and creativity in their education
What is “world schooling”?
Worldschooling is a unique form of education that allows students to travel and learn about different cultures all over the world. It can be a great way to provide a more diverse and immersive learning experience. Children can learn history by visiting famous historical landmarks. Children can learn about math by learning how to exchange currency. Children can even learn a foreign language by immersing themselves in a country.
How Do You Homeschool Legally?
Homeschooling is legal in all 50-states however, make sure you are in compliance by checking your state’s requirements before you pull your child(ren) out of school. I am located in California where there are 5 legal ways to homeschool.
- File an affidavit and operate as a private school.
- Enroll in a private school satellite homeschool program.
- Hire a certified private tutor (or become a credentialed tutor yourself).
- Use a public school independent study program.
- Enroll in a public charter school for homeschoolers.
We choose the easiest of these options and enrolled with ASU Prep-Digital and have had no issues complying with homeschool laws.
Why Homeschool Your Child (Reasons People Decided To Homeschool)?
Parents choose to homeschool for a wide range of reasons and luckily for those that live in the United States, we don’t have to give a reason. In the United States, a few of the reasons people decide to homeschool are Academic, Religious, and or health reasons. Are you curious why more and more people are turning to homeschool? Check out this post 9 Reasons People Homeschool Their Kids. At the end of the day, your child’s education is your decision and you get to decide how to educate them through homeschool or public school
Homeschool vs Public School: Is Homeschooling Better or Is Homeschooling Bad?
I get asked these questions all the time by people considering homeschooling. “Is homeschooling better”, “Is homeschooling bad”? That’s a hard question to answer and is going to depend on who you ask and their situation.
Some kids do amazing as public school students. They are able to conform to the rules, they get along great with their peers, they have amazing teachers and they never experience bullying. For some kids, public school is a nightmare. They might attend a school that’s failing state standards, lack proper supplies, experience daily bullying, and/or violence.
For us, even though we enjoyed public school, homeschooling was just a better fit. I would suggest sitting down and writing out your Pros and Cons of Homeschooling list and making an informed decision. Had you asked me two years ago if I thought public school was better than homeschooling, I would have said Yes! Now, having homeschooled for 4 years, you couldn’t pay me or Reese to go back to public school.
I’m Not A Teacher and I’m Bad at Math. Can I still Homeschool?
This was my biggest fear when I first considered homeschooling. I am far from a teacher and if we’re being honest, I passed high school by the skin of my teeth. I still remember sitting in my living room on the day of graduation waiting for my high school counselor to call and tell me if I was actually graduating.
I did end up graduating that day, (with a .33 GPA) which I didn’t even think was possible. I then went on to earn two degrees and am now a licensed nurse. That in and of itself should tell you a lot about our public school system but that’s a conversation for another day. I used to always say if I had to homeschool my kid she would be dumb as a box of rocks.
Homeschooling is not about what you know, it’s about what you introduce your kids to. There are so many resources available to kids now for learning. You have google, youtube, co-ops, other parents, and blogs at your fingertips to guide you along the way.
If you’re really struggling with the idea of homeschooling math, check out these Tips For Homeschooling Math When You’re Bad at Math.
If I Homeschool Will My Child Be Able To Go To College?
Yes, your homeschooled child can most definitely go to college. As a matter of fact, they may even be able to start college earlier than their peers. It’s no secret that top schools such as Harvard, Stanford, and Duke University all actively recruit homeschoolers. The most important thing for homeschoolers to have when applying for college are accurate transcripts, solid letters of recommendation, and great test scores.
Can I Homeschool For Just Elementary School? Middle School or High School?
You sure can. You can choose to start and stop homeschooling at any grade and at any point during the year. It’s very common for people to homeschool elementary through middle school and later return to public school for high school. Other people may have their children attend public schools all the way through middle school then decide to homeschool through high school.
You can also decide to homeschool during the middle of the year. When we made the decision to homeschool we went on Thanksgiving break and never came back.
Is Homeschooling Expensive?
That depends on how you run your home school and what state you live in. If you live in California or other select states and homeschool through a charter school, homeschool is super affordable and even free. Charter schools in California provide their students up to $3000 a year (depending on grade) to homeschool.
If you elect to do your own private school affidavit you will need to cover your own homeschool supplies and expenses. Some parents choose to homeschool on a budget and use several free resources like printables, library books, and online tools like Google, Khan Academy, Youtube, and Netflix. Some parents even get creative and homeschool using Disney+. Other parents spare no expense when it comes to curriculum, field trips that involve traveling, and online classes.
Can You Homeschool As A Single Parent?
Yes! It’s going to take a strong support system, hired help, or a flexible job but it’s possible. I’m a single mom and I homeschool. I’m also an entrepreneur and work from home. I also recently hired a full-time live-in Au Pair to assist with childcare.
I know some single parents who work their children’s schoolwork around their work schedule. Remember, there is no rule that says what hours you have to homeschool. If evening and weekend work best for you and your children, that’s okay.
Can I Homeschool One Child But Not The Other?
Yes, many families choose to homeschool one child and not the other. Some parents have children in different grades and will choose to keep one child in school while the other homeschools. One child may have special needs and do better in a homeschool environment. One child might enjoy public school and find homeschooling is not for them. Either way, as a parent, you can choose to do whatever works best for your children and family.
Can Homeschoolers Take AP Exams?
Yes, homeschool students can take AP classes as well as sit for AP exams just like traditional school kids. Homeschooled students can study and prepare for AP exams on their own or by enrolling in online AP courses. Homeschoolers wishing to have courses labeled as “Advanced Placement” on their transcripts, will need to have their course syllabus pre-approved by the College Board AP Central. For more information on preparing your homeschooler for AP exams check out “Tips For Taking AP Exams As A Homeschooler”.
Can Homeschoolers Get Scholarships?
Yes, because of homeschoolers’ unique schooling setup allowing them to focus on extracurriculars, they are able to focus on things they are passionate about and can do well. Many organizations offer scholarships based on extracurricular activities. If your child loves animals and you can build that passion into their education, that may open them up to veterinarian-focused scholarships or scholarships related to the care of animals. The sky is the limit when it comes to scholarships for homeschoolers. Start your homeschool scholarship search here.
Do Homeschool Teachers Get Discounts?
One of the perks of being a homeschooling parent is that many companies will consider you a “teacher” allowing you to qualify for teacher-only discounts. For starters, make sure your homeschool has a name. Next, apply for a school id for both you and your child. You can order a homeschool ID online. From there, use your educator ID to sign up for discounts at several locations such as Barnes & Noble, Apple, and even Staples.
How Many Days A Week Do I Have To Homeschool?
There is no set number of days you have to homeschool. When we first started we tried a few different ways. Some people follow a traditional school schedule and homeschool Monday-Friday. Some people homeschool Monday-Thursday and take Friday-Sunday off. I even know a few people who homeschool 7 days a week but they only do an hour a day. Keep in mind, learning takes place all the time so you may find you homeschool a lot more than you think? Did your family take a vacation and visit a museum on a Saturday..guess what, that counts as school, even on a Saturday.
How Many Hours A Day Do You Have To Homeschool?
For as little or as long as you want, that’s one of the perks of homeschooling. This was one of the reasons we decided to homeschool. Since Reese has ADHD, some days she’s just not feeling it while other days I can’t get her to put a book down. I have seen her get really excited about a topic (like division) and she will spend hours doing problem after problem. Other days she wakes up and I can’t get her to write her name on her paper. I’ve learned to not push. If she’s not in the mood to learn I’m not going to force her. She won’t retain the information and it’s just going to make me upset.
If you’re really looking for numbers, here is a helpful guideline based on age/grade.
- Kindergarten (Prep)—Grade 2: 1 to 1 ½ hours/ 3 to 4 days per week.
- Grades 3—4: 2 to 3 hours/ 4 days per week
- Grades 5—6: 3 to 4 hours/ 4 days per week
- Grades 7—8: 4 to 6 hours/ 5 days per week
- Grades 9—10: 5 to 6 hours/ 5 days per week
Do Homeschoolers Have To Do PE (Physical Education)?
Yes, Physical Education (PE) is a requirement for homeschooling as well however you can get really creative with how you choose to meet that requirement. We have spent time swimming with friends in the summer, taken ice skating classes, and even walked the dog for 30 minutes. When it’s rainy outside Reese loves popping Just Dance into the Xbox and spending 30 minutes dancing around our living room to her favorite songs. P.E. can even mean spending an hour at the park with a friend or riding your bike or skateboard.
When Can I Start Homeschooling (What Age)
You can start homeschooling your child as early as age 5. In California, children must register and attend a school or comply with the homeschool laws starting the school year in which they turn 6 (by September 1) and must continue to attend school until they have officially met the requirements for graduation or until the child’s 18th birthday.
Do You Get Paid To Homeschool?
You don’t get paid to homeschool but you can receive homeschool funding depending on what state you live in. We are in California and because we decided to homeschool through a charter school we do receive public funding. Currently, we receive $2,800 per year (K-8th grade) and $3,000 per year (9-12 grade). These funds are not paid to the parent but are paid to vendors the parents select for things like textbooks, classes, and elective or extracurricular activities. Not all schools offer funds for homeschooling so, check with your state first.
How Do You Calculate A Homeschool GPA?
GPAs can be hard to wrap your head around and sometimes seem even harder to understand when you homeschool. The process for calculating a GPA is actually pretty easy once you figure out the formula. Here’s how it works:
- First, assign points for each course credit your child completes.
- Next, add up the number of course credits taken. Award either 1 or ½ credit for each course. Give 1 credit for a 1-year course and ½ (0.5) credit for a 1-semester course completed.
- Lastly, take the total of the grade points and divide them by the total of the course credits taken in a year. Nest, round to the nearest two (2) decimal places. This is your child’s yearly GPA.
How Do Homeschool Kids Make Friends? Homeschool vs Public School Socialization
I always laugh when people ask how we make friends when I tell them we homeschool. I usually ask them if all their kid friends are from school? My daughter is friends with other homeschool students, we have friends from Girl Scouts, after-school sports teams, other kids in the community, friends from church. Her friendships are actually stronger now that we have started homeschooling because she tends to only connect with kids she really has things in common with instead of just other school children.
Can I Homeschool Without Textbooks
Yes! Many homeschooling families choose to not use any books at all to educate their kids. Parents who decided to homeschool without textbooks often depend on resources like Youtube, worksheets and printables, online programs, field trips, and even Netflix and Disney+. Nowhere is it written that learning has to take place from a textbook. I actually suggest not using textbooks at all during the first year of homeschooling.
How Do I Talk My Parents Into Letting Me Homeschool?
Ahhh.. you’re the kid who hates school and found my blog lol, welcome. First, I’m happy you are doing your home education research and that you found my blog (that’s a good sign). Convincing a parent to allow a child to homeschool can be tricky especially if they don’t know much about homeschooling, to begin with.
For starters, make a list of the reasons you want to homeschool and include the benefits of homeschooling vs public schooling. Make sure the list includes homeschool vs public school pros and cons as they relate to you. Focus on the things you can learn and how your education can benefit from homeschooling. Next, show them this Homeschool versus Public School post and allow them to spend some time reading it along with the other homeschooling posts on my blog. Best of luck.
What Do I Tell People Who Think Homeschooling Is Bad?
Non-homeschooling parents love to ask the homeschooling vs traditional schooling questions. How you choose to answer will depend on your personality. For me, “mind your business” or “did I ask you” typically work for me. But, if you’re not the type to ruffle feathers, you can simply say. “Homeschooling is not for everyone and neither is the public school system. We’ve tried public school and now we want to try homeschooling, if it does not work out we can always go back but I owe it to my child to try”, then change the subject. That’s usually enough to shut them up and get them off your back.
My Child Is In Special Education Classes? Can We Still Homeschool?
Yes, as a matter of fact, homeschooling might be a better situation for those in special education classes or those who have 504 plans and IEPs. When we first started homeschooling my daughter had a 504 for accommodations. While we still kept her 504, a lot of the things we had accommodations for didn’t matter anymore. She could now take breaks whenever she wanted, she didn’t need “permission” to use voice to text for papers instead of writing. She could wiggle and move all she wanted. Since we went through a charter school a lot of the same services that were offered to public education students were still offered to her through our charters school district.
Do You Have Any Statistics on Homeschooling?
Sure, here are a few general homeschool statistics.
- There are about 2.5 million homeschool students in grades K-12 in the United States. It appears that the homeschool population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 2% to 8% per annum over the past few years).
- A wide variety of people homeschool – these are atheists, Christians, and Mormons; conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; low-, middle-, and high-income families; black, Hispanic, and white; parents with Ph.D.s, GEDs, and no high-school diplomas. One study shows that 32 percent of homeschool students are Black, Asian, Hispanic, and others (i.e., not White/non-Hispanic)
- Taxpayers spend an average of $11,732 per pupil annually in public schools, plus capital expenditures. Taxpayers spend nothing on most homeschool students and homeschool families spend an average of $600 per student annually for their education
- Homeschool students typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.) A 2015 study found Black homeschool students to be scoring 23 to 42 percentile points above Black public school students
Looking for more statistics on homeschooling? Check out these:
What is A Homeschool Co-Op?
A Homeschool Co-Op is a group of families in the community who come together to support their kids in homeschooling. A Co-op might offer classes taught by the parents, go on field trips together, share curriculum, socialize, etc. You typically pay a fee to join a co-op. They can range from a few dollars per activity to $200+ for co-ops that provide curriculum, field trips, etc. You don’t have to join a co-op to homeschool however many new homeschoolers find them very useful.
Can you Homeschool Online?
Yes. There are several options for homeschooling online. A popular one is K-12, an online trusted provider of online learning for many virtual public schools, as well as homeschooling. K12’s public schools feature a rigorous online curriculum. K-12 is designed to mimic a traditional public school. There is a set curriculum and it aligns with state standards.
Outschool is another online option for classes and is currently our favorite. Outschool is a marketplace of live online classes for kids. Their mission is to inspire kids to love learning. Outschool offer 8000+ video chat classes for K-12 science, art, mindfulness, English, social studies, life skills, and more.
I’m often asked, “Can I homeschool without having to actually teach”? The answer is k12 and Outschool!
If We Homeschool Will My Child Earn A Diploma or A GED? Does It Matter?
That depends on how you choose to homeschool. If you homeschool through a public charter or through an online program like k-12, your child will receive a diploma from the school district. If you choose to homeschool under an affidavit, your child will more than likely receive a GED.
Both a GED and a Diploma say the same thing. Your child was able to meet the requirements set forth by the state to pass. A GED, however, is not the same as a diploma and often carries less weight than a high school diploma. The majority of colleges will accept a GED instead of a high school diploma for admission. Keep in mind, however, not all colleges across the U.S. accept a GED and they are not all viewed the same.
While a high school diploma and/or GED are required for most schools, the vast majority of schools focus more on the classes you took, the grades you received, your test scores, and what you did outside of school. Things like extracurricular activities and volunteer work carry more weight.
Are There Any Famous People Who Were Homeschooled?
There are many homeschoolers who have left their mark on the world. If your child is curious about how the lives of others turned out, have them check out these famous homeschoolers.
Presidents: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, James Garfield, William, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, James Polk, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and George Washington
Celebrities: Justin Bieber, Emma Watson, Venus and Serena Williams, LeAnne Rimes, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Love Hewitt
Scientists and Inventors: George Washington Carver, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Orville, and Wilbur Wright.
Business Owners: Bank of America’s founder, New York Tribune founder, McDonald’s founder, Kentucky Fried Chicken founder, Wendy’s founder
U.S. Supreme Court Judges: John Jay, John Marshall, John Rutledge, Sandra Day O’Connor
So, what have we learned? First, there is no one right answer for everyone when it comes to public schooling vs homeschooling. What works for one family may not work for another. Second, do your research! There are tons of resources out there to help you make the best decision for your family. Finally, ask lots of questions and talk to other homeschoolers. They will be a valuable resource as you navigate this new journey. Are you ready to start homeschooling?