Wendy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice. She is married with three children (23, 20, and 14).
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
- It is free for a child to attend a public school. Funding for schools comes through state government.
- Transportation is provided to a public school by a bus system.
- Teachers in public schools are required to have certain credentials due to state funding.
- Public schools may provide many activities for students to become involved in, including clubs, sports, and fine arts, and these are free to students.
- Public schools are often able to provide services for students with disabilities at no cost as a part of the Exceptional Student Education program.
- Large class sizes often make it difficult for a student to receive one on one assistance.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Due to state funding, religion cannot be expressed.
Private School Pros and Cons
- Usually a smaller environment with smaller class sizes.
- Usually funded by private sources and tuition from students; therefore, religion can be expressed.
- Because class sizes are smaller, there is often more one on one assistance, and students are able to be better challenged.
- There is less emphasis on standardized testing, though there are measures for accountability to the accreditation board that overseas the school.
- These schools typically still include PE, art, and music daily or weekly to give students a well rounded education.
- Curriculum is often more challenging than public school curriculum.
- 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.
- Because the school is smaller and there is often less funding, there are often less choices for electives.
- Sports programs can be limited, and any sports played will be in a smaller division than a public school.
- 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).
- Typically, there are no special education classes offered.
- Often there is an entrance exam, interview, and/or other factors to determine eligibility
Homeschool Pros and Cons
- Parents and children are able to choose curriculum that meets their interests.
- There is more flexibility in the schedule, so more hands on experience can be used to coincide with written material.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Material must be purchased and can be quite costly.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Questions & Answers
Question: It seems to me I recall another type of school available for pre-high schooling. Smaller classes, more like homeschooling. Am I wrong?
Answer: There are many different types of home school programs. Some people choose to home school independent of a community but others join a home school co-op. These types of programs may have children go to a location one or more days a week but are homeschooled by parents other days. This allows children to interact with others in a school type environment part time and home school the other time. I have seen other types of programs that allow children to come to their center and work at their own pace with tutors or instructors available. Here parents send their children to this location daily but the children do their own classes at their own speed. These programs may be what you are talking about.
Question: I currently go to a private school, but I feel like I am not invested myself when I attend said school, I want to go to a public school so I can focus on myself and invest in my own education. What do I do?
Answer: This is a question to discuss with your parents. As the article states, there are many benefits to private schools and I am not sure I understand what you mean by wanting to invest more in yourself and focus on yourself. You and your parents need to decide together what school is best for you based on what school options are available to you and what your ultimate goals are. If staying at private school is the decision made, look into whether the school allows dual enrollment or look into what volunteer opportunities there are. What activities does the school offer? Are you involved and making the most of the opportunities you have? What are the reasons for wanting to move to a public school? Is there something this setting provides that your current school does not. If so, make a list of your reasons and present them to your parents.
Question: Why do most schools require uniforms?
Answer: Many private schools and some public schools require uniforms and there are many different reasons. First, uniforms cut down on competition and bullying of students based on some having the ability to buy name brands and expensive clothing and others not having the ability. Another reason schools use is it is easier to maintain a school dress code and avoid students wearing inappropriate clothing. Many schools that require uniforms use "plain clothes days" as rewards or incentives for various positive behaviors or contests.
Question: It seems that I recall parents paying taxes are still paying public schools in general. Am I wrong?
Answer: If you are referring to parents who send their children to private school, yes, these parents pay taxes but also pay the private school. Private schools don't receive money from the government and are run on tuition money and money raised by fundraisers. It's the choice that these parents make to send their children to a school of their choice based on type of education or religion.
Question: There are many private schools with programs for the disabled. Right?
Answer: This often depends on the size and funding of the school and the type of disability you are referring to. If it is a physical disability then yes schools should be prepared for this. Schools are required to have ramps and other assistance for physically disabled students. As for emotionally or mentally challenged students, some schools do and some don't and parents will have to ask these questions to the individual schools when they are making a school decision. Some private schools are so small that they don't receive enough funding to employ special education teachers and private schools do not receive government funding. Students in private schools are often able to receive some services from the public school board like special education plans, hearing impaired services, blind services, etc. that can supplement what the private school does but this would have to be discussed with the school.
Question: What are other cons to homeschooling?
Answer: One con I have noticed since my 14 year old is home during the Covid school closings is that it is hard to be motivated. At school she has a schedule and knows when her work needs to be completed. At home, she has all day to finish. When she started, she was excited to do everything quickly and be done, now it is easy for her to put things off knowing she doesn't have to have it done til the end of the day.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on May 25, 2020:
I have a friend who is jobless, a full time mom, she does home schooling for all her kids. They had never attend school in real life.
But i heard that her kids are well discipline and independent
paloma on February 05, 2020:
I think that you should put the pros and cons of charter schools even if it is almost the same thing as public schools so PLease put the pros and cons of charter schools.
TripleAMom (author) from Florida on December 05, 2019:
It is definitely good to hear from a student and it definitely does not reduce your credibility. I am so sorry to hear that you are so unhappy in your current circumstances.
Are you able to talk to your parents? They need to know that you feel this way because it sounds like you are going through a pretty intense depression. Would they consider taking you to counseling to address the issues you are dealing with?
As for public school and home school, the difficulties are hard. While you are in homeschool, is there an extracurricular activity you would enjoy participating in? Something that would give you motivation to get up and get going each day. There are many things that homeschoolers can do like sports, music lessons, voice lessons, horseback riding lessons, church activities, etc. It is very hard and takes work to find things to participate in with others but is possible.
If you return to school, see if you can find a friend or a small group of friends that you feel comfortable with. Also see if there is a teacher or guidance counselor that can provide a safe place for you to go if you need it.
I really hope that you can become more satisfied with your life.
Anonymous on December 05, 2019:
I think this comment section could benefit from someone actually in school. I'm in 8th-grade middle school and even though that makes me lose credibility its important information. I've been in public school and now I'm in homeschooling. Not the usual homeschooling. I do this thing called clever. It's an online classroom. Its got the same problems though. Public school sucks for the following reasons.
The other kids. God the other kids. It's just so awful. It's no wonder that most people around my age have severe depression. It's just so hard to keep your cool and not breakdown in public school.
The teachers. I don't know about your public schools but the teachers usually have no idea how to handle children. Not only that but the public school system is a sham. The teachers don't even know what they are talking about half the time. I've had some really bad teachers who didn't do anything except bitch and whine (Excuse the language but its the only way to correctly express my true feelings) If you have any contradictory opinion or an opinion at all they put you down and tell you to be quiet and sit down. They turn kids into sad kids that are afraid to speak they're true emotions.
The problems with homeschool are as followed.
Having no social interaction is just awful. As a kid who didn't have many friends in school it became even worse after I left. I lost contact with any humans other than my family. Whenever I have interaction with someone I don't know now I get anxious and try to back away from the conversation. I've gotten so used to not speaking to people that it disgusts me to have any interaction. I feel so isolated and lonely all the time.
My biggest problem with no motivation. I have no motivation to do anything. It was much easier to get excited about doing something in public school. It also made my life plain miserable. I dread waking up in the morning and I can't find a reason to get out of bed. All the days just blend together now. It's like this huge gray area in my life where nothing exciting happens. I hate it. I just go week after week just waiting for it to end. Honestly, I would rather be angry and sad than to feel nothing. That is why I desperately want to go back to public school in hopes that maybe I can find a reason to be happy.
I hope maybe this helps you decide what to do with your children.
Robert Sacchi on October 18, 2019:
Good points. I noticed when I went to school, sometime last century, teachers built relationships with "A" students as opposed to average students. I had a niece who went to a charter high school. There the counselors spent a lot of time with the students. When I was in high school average students saw the counselor once a year. It was when planning for the next grade. It usually consisted of you are taking aubject A-1 take subject A-2, subject B-1 take subject B-2, etc.
TripleAMom (author) from Florida on October 18, 2019:
Robert Sacchi, I have not read about this per se, but I know that in public schools the teachers have so many students to keep up with, particularly in secondary schools, that it is hard to individualize each and every one. It would make sense that in this setting children tend to find their praise or positive attention from their peers. Private schools tend to be smaller with smaller class sizes so the teachers have more of an ability to focus their attention on the individuals in their classes. This is a generalization of course and not to say that public school teachers don't try or don't care. Often, however, these teachers are given difficult mandates to teach to particular standardized tests for performance so getting in standards over relationships has often become the norm. Math and reading over recess or field trips where teachers can spend more time outside of academics. These are just my opinions based on some things I've noticed in our state.
Robert Sacchi on October 17, 2019:
A good list and explanation of the pros and cons. I read an article comparing (small) private schools vs public schools. The article used President Clinton and Vice President Gore as examples. The article pointed out in small private schools all praise comes from the teacher. In public schools praise comes largely from fellow students. Have you read anything about that?
Margaret on May 09, 2019:
Thanks! I used this for my essay.
brittanyfletcher on March 14, 2019:
why are public schools even made?
TripleAMom (author) from Florida on February 02, 2019:
I don't know this particular middle school, but it would be a good idea for you and your parents to look into what it has to offer and see if it is a good option for you.
angnrg11 on February 01, 2019:
Is Steam a good middle school and do you think I could get in being a home school student?
Nugget on January 14, 2019:
I'm in school
Aera on December 05, 2018:
Public school is pointless
MnM on October 26, 2018:
thanks for your website!
cody on July 27, 2018:
i was homeschool for a year and i want to see if its worth going again this sort of helped
WhereTheWindBlows on April 19, 2018:
I'm currently a high school student and this had great research for an essay!
Ghostly on April 02, 2018:
I have been struggling a lot with school and parents have proposed homeschooling. If they had asked me a couple years ago I would have definitely said no but now I think it's my best option right now.
justyce on February 14, 2018:
IUniversity Prep for grades K-12 on October 24, 2017:
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 (author) from Florida on July 03, 2012:
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 from USA on July 03, 2012:
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 (author) from Florida on June 24, 2012:
Thanks tcnixon. I do know about the other online schools. We have friends using them. Thanks for reading and commenting!!
tcnixon from California on June 24, 2012:
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 (author) from Florida on April 03, 2012:
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 Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on April 01, 2012:
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 (author) from Florida on April 01, 2012:
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 Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on April 01, 2012:
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 (author) from Florida on March 01, 2012:
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 on March 01, 2012:
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.