Pros and Cons of Public Schooling, Private Schooling, and Homeschooling Education

Updated on February 17, 2017

Every child in the United States must go to school. There are no exceptions. By law the compulsory age to attend school is between 5 and 16, and parents are to ensure that their children are involved in some type of educational system. Most parents will choose a public school setting, but others will choose to enroll their children in a private school or to homeschool their children. This article is meant to give the pros and cons of each type of school system so that the reader can make an informed decision on the type of schooling for their child.

Public School Pros and Cons

Pros

  1. It is free for a child to attend a public school. Funding for schools comes through state government.
  2. Transportation is provided to a public school by a bus system.
  3. Teachers in public schools are required to have certain credentials due to state funding.
  4. Public schools may provide many activities for students to become involved in, including clubs, sports, and fine arts, and these are free to students.
  5. Public schools are often able to provide services for students with disabilities at no cost as a part of the Exceptional Student Education program.

Cons

  1. Large class sizes often make it difficult for a student to receive one on one assistance.
  2. With reduction in funding, many programs such as art, PE, and music have been removed from the regular school day, thus limiting a student's involvement in activities outside of core curriculum unless extra curricular activities are pursued.
  3. In many states now, there are standardized tests that are required and schools are often "graded" based on students' performance on these tests. Therefore, it has been said that teachers must "teach to the test", which often includes math, English, and writing, with less emphasis on history. (This is definitely the case in Florida where I live).
  4. Public schools have a large number of students, and with a lack of funding, there are often limited numbers of teachers. This can lead to less monitoring of the students, thus a larger number of behavioral issues.
  5. In a regular education classroom, academically advanced students are often not challenged as well as they could be due to the teacher having to work with all students, and often average or lower students need more work. These more advanced students cannot move ahead until the rest of the class is able to do so.
  6. Due to state funding, religion cannot be expressed.

Private School Pros and Cons

Pros

  1. Usually a smaller environment with smaller class sizes.
  2. Usually funded by private sources and tuition from students; therefore, religion can be expressed.
  3. Because class sizes are smaller, there is often more one on one assistance, and students are able to be better challenged.
  4. There is less emphasis on standardized testing, though there are measures for accountability to the accreditation board that overseas the school.
  5. These schools typically still include PE, art, and music daily or weekly to give students a well rounded education.
  6. Curriculum is often more challenging than public school curriculum.
  7. Because private schools are centered around a teaching type or religion, the students, teachers, and parents tend to be more like minded and a community is built.

Cons

  1. Because the school is smaller and there is often less funding, there are often less choices for electives.
  2. Sports programs can be limited, and any sports played will be in a smaller division than a public school.
  3. Teachers don't necessarily have to have a teaching degree, though there are requirements set by the accreditation board. (I.E. The Association of Christian Schools International, a well recognized accreditation board for private schools, states that a teacher must either have a teaching degree or become certified through the ACSI board, which provides its own professional credentials).
  4. Typically, there are no special education classes offered.
  5. Often there is an entrance exam, interview, and/or other factors to determine eligibility

Homeschool Pros and Cons

Pros

  1. Parents and children are able to choose curriculum that meets their interests.
  2. There is more flexibility in the schedule, so more hands on experience can be used to coincide with written material.
  3. Children can be taught according to learning styles. For children with learning disabilities, ADHD, or other types of issues that make public school or private school settings more difficult, homeschooling allows these children to be taught in productive ways according to what works well for them without the stigma of a label.
  4. Children can move at their own pace: slower for children who are more academically challenged, but faster for those who are capable of moving at a more rapid pace.
  5. Since parents are the ones teaching the children, this style of schooling lends itself to better relationships within the home setting. Further, parents can separate subjects and teach the ones they most enjoy.
  6. There is a variety of programs available for homeschooling families now since this option has become more popular in recent years. Local universities, recreation centers, and other facilities have begun homeschool PE, art, dance, and visual art classes. There are homeschool co-ops where many students gather in local facilities with parents teaching subjects in their areas of expertise. Further, typically when a student is a homeschool student, they are eligible to play sports at their zoned public school.

Cons

  1. Material must be purchased and can be quite costly.
  2. Parents are completely in charge of their children's education and need to ensure that they are giving their children a well rounded foundation, particularly if the child will go on to college.
  3. Students are limited in their ability to attend classes with other children, and it takes an effort on the part of the parent to ensure that the children are given opportunities in the community to interact.
  4. Typically, one parent will have to give up their job and income to teach their child/children. This can cause a strain on the family, both financially and with the parent being with their children most of the time.

This is not an exhaustive list of pros and cons to say the least and I'm sure many readers can add to this list in any area. When deciding on your child's education, it is important to remember that their future relies on the foundation they receive. Think through the pros and cons and decide which option is best for your family.

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    • profile image

      IUniversity Prep for grades K-12 7 weeks ago

      I'm an online schooled student due to severe anxiety and depression, was forced to switch to an online school. I started with IUniversity prep. It's a free, online AMAZING school.I was hospitalized for a month last year and the teachers (real people who are wanting to help!!) sent me cards and sweet emails. I've been able to work at my own pace. I am a quadruplet, so my 3 sisters that go to public school tell me about their day. I am far more advanced with the material and have much nicer teachers. They all give you their personal email and phone number for you to easily contact them day or night. I cannot stress how much I love this school and all they have done for me. A good friend of mine is also transferring in January and she has looked into it and is speechless. If you have a child K-12 who has special needs or even is just looking for a different school environment, you HAVE to go to IUniversity. The best part is, it IS accredited and the lessons are outstanding. Oh, and did I say that it's FREE! I would love to hear if you are thinking about transferring. Would leave my life in these teacher's hands! Also, if you're a parent, you don't have to quit your job to help your child, there are live video chats (and recorded ) Live Lessons or basically video chats. All you need is something to take notes on and a laptop. Such an amazing school!

    • TripleAMom profile image
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      TripleAMom 5 years ago from Florida

      Midnight Lights-you are right about there still being bias against homeschooling. That's really sad because homeschooled children (if it is done right of course-I've seen parents who use it as a way of not having to worry about getting their children to school) are very bright. Many of my friends homeschool their children and they have so many opportunities. Many of them go on to dual enroll in college for their last two years and get their high school and AA degree at the same time. One friend's son got a perfect score on the math portion of the SAT. You have to be able to look at the individual child, parent, and family circumstance to see which school setting is best. One of my best friends has a son who was dyslexic. He was in a private school for K and 1st. He was falling behind other children because of his learning disability. If placed in public school, he would have been placed in an ESE class and labeled. She took him out and began to home school. He is now 15, going into 10th grade, and reads as well as my 15 year old son who makes all A's in the private school he goes to. Sounds like you chose well for your children and should be commended.

    • Midnight Lights profile image

      Midnight Lights 5 years ago from USA

      I homeschooled my oldest son who has ADD/Obedience Disorder/Learning difficulties for 8 years, with Switched on Schoolhouse 4 yrs, and then American School for Highschool, and my daughter for kindergarten and 1st grade (she's an A student - now 16), I sent her back to public school because she wouldn't cooperate and figured she'd enjoy public more (she does). Each situation is different, but having the cooperation and understanding of why by family is imperative - something I guess I never had considering the comments I got about doing it. In the custody case the ex used it against me in every way possible.. sadly, courts don't seem to hear the facts, just what they want to hear (or Think they Think is best) - personal preference. There's still a lot of bias towards homeschooling out there, sadly. :/

    • TripleAMom profile image
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      TripleAMom 5 years ago from Florida

      Thanks tcnixon. I do know about the other online schools. We have friends using them. Thanks for reading and commenting!!

    • tcnixon profile image

      tcnixon 5 years ago from California

      Thank you for a well-thought-out introduction to this topic. Interestingly, there are online versions of both public and private schools available for those who identify as homeschoolers and those who do not.

    • TripleAMom profile image
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      TripleAMom 5 years ago from Florida

      Yes Paul, as a therapist, I was working with a grandmother as she homeschooled her grandson. She got so involved in different things (park days, science museums, and so many other things) with her grandson that I had to recommend that she back off some to give some down time. You can be busy every day.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      I wasn't aware that there are so many resources for homeschool parents. Thanks for the information. I am sharing this with my followers.

    • TripleAMom profile image
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      TripleAMom 5 years ago from Florida

      Actually Paul, today there are so many resources for homeschool parents that the social interaction really isn't missing. Many of my daughters' best friends are homeschooled though my kids are in private school. These friends are involved in so many different activities like homeschool band including competitions, youth groups, sports activities, etc. The parents are just as active as I am with my kids. My daughter and her best friend ride bikes together each day that they can when they are not involved in other activities. There are also homeschool coops where kids go to take classes. If my kids weren't in the school they are in, I would most certainly homeschool because I would enjoy it as much as they would. Even with sports, the public schools in the child's district allows the child to play on the particular team. You are right that it takes a commitment on the part of the parent!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      This is a very informative, interesting hub. I have taught and attended both private and public schools inside and outside of the U.S. I have never been engaged in home schooling; however, to me it seems the best way to educate your children. The problem is that it takes a big commitment of time from the parents, and the social interaction with peers in learning is also missing.

    • TripleAMom profile image
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      TripleAMom 5 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for the comment, Marturion. Our school system is not that great where I am, so we are VERY fortunate to be able to have our kids in a great private school. Some of my son's friends have opted for public high school due to more extensive extracurriculars and electives. I often thought I could enjoy homeschooling as well because so many of my friends homeschool that we could work together. Here, there is a homeschool band that is excellent, homeschool PE at the local college, and other opportunities, and I love taking my kids on "field trips". Yes, each family has to choose what is right for them.

    • Marturion profile image

      Marturion 5 years ago

      Very well thought out. I.myself, was fortunate enough to have a private school education, but we have opted for public school for our son, because of the amazing programs available to him, here. The right answer isn't always obvious.