3 Reasons to Choose Public, Private, and Home School

I started getting asked how we were going to educate Stefan when he was just a few months old. I am worrying about nursing, sleeping, teething, and how much he poops, and I am being asked to make a decision regarding his school choice. Really? And is it really a one-time decision that we have to stick to for the rest of our children’s educational career? I don’t think so. We sometimes make this decision thinking that if we start down one path, we have to stay on it forever. We don’t. And maybe we shouldn’t.

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Today I offer up three good reasons to choose public, private, and home school. There are many other reasons, I just chose to narrow it down to three. Please feel free to add yours in the comments. I speak here in generalities and the specifics will vary widely from school to school or home to home. Also, just because I included a reason for one choice does not necessarily mean it is completely absent in the others. Again, generalities. This is more to get you thinking, and to remind us all that each option is viable and meets different needs.


  1. Options for children with disabilities: Special education teachers, therapy, etc. Because public school has to, by law, provide schooling for every child, they have to provide for children with disabilities. This is not required of private schools.
  2. More extra-curricular options: sports teams, drama, band, art, etc. 
  3. Cost. It would be impossible to not include this as an extremely good reason for choosing public school.


  1. Choice of school based on academic success or educational philosophy. This often comes with a high price tag. (In our current city there are numerous highly successful private schools using traditional, Waldorf, Classical, and other models.)
  2. Choice of school based on your religious beliefs. Remember, though, you might be sacrificing in another area, so keep that in mind!
  3. Smaller classrooms (usually), which allows for more teacher interaction which is invaluable.


  1. Option to tailor the teaching to fit each child’s learning style. (This is a lot of work to pull off, though, so do not assume it is easy!)
  2. Flexibility. This is probably one of the more popular reasons for homeschooling. You can choose to do the traditional school year approach, or a year-round approach taking days off when they are convenient for your family, etc.
  3. Ability to have a very hands-on approach to your children’s education, choosing different educational models that might not be available in your area.

The choice of schooling is a big one for every family. It is a very personal decision. There are so many factors that play into this decision that it would be wrong to put any one approach as superior or better. And we always need to be gracious toward others who choose something different than us. After all, you might change next year.

Ultimately, though, it is important to remember that you as the parent are responsible for your child’s education. Whether you choose to outsource the teaching or not is up to you, but you are still responsible. If your second-grader is struggling with reading it is not the teacher’s problem, it’s yours. If your home-schooled child is not excelling like he should be it is not the curriculum’s fault, it’s your problem to determine if that curriculum does not mesh with your child’s learning style. Figure out a solution.

Finally, it is essential to always keep re-evaluating. One commitment we have made as a family is that we will re-evaluate every year. This does not mean that we will change every year. But we might. Is this best for our family situation this year? Is this best for each individual child this year? Are there other options available to us that would suit our needs better? What is best for us today may not be what is best for us in five years. Or even next year.

The perfect education does not exist. Each schooling choice requires its own sacrifice. In essence, there is always an opportunity cost. The give and take of life is as evident in this choice as any. You must not only evaluate the education your children receive, but also its effect on your marriage and family, and your particular life situation.

Now it’s your turn. What advantages do you feel the different schooling choices offer?


  1. Becky Holmquist says:

    Thank you SO much for this…especially for the reminder to respect others’ choices for type of school. Having homeschooled and deciding 2 years ago to put the kids in public, I faced a bit of negative comments and actually had people pull away from friendships (either w/ me or w/ my kids). My husband and I have also adopted the policy to take things year by year… observing & praying all the way! So far, the Lord has really blessed w/ wonderful teachers. We’ve also had some teaching moments when they’ve faced certain social situations that have come out of a predominately non-Christian environment.It is keeping is on our toes, spiritually!
    I loved your gracious approach to a subject that can (but shouldn’t) be a real “hot topic”.

    • The fact that people would pull away from friendships because of a different choice in schooling grieves me. I personally benefit so much from people with different perspectives and different choices (in all areas of life).

      Thank you again for the reminder, though, to be mindful of how I act as well. What is communicated not only with my words, but also my body language and the message I communicate to my children about people who make different choices than us. Actions speak louder than words, right?

      I needed that reminder, Becky! Thank you!

  2. Thanks for this! :-) It is such an important point that parents are still responsible for their kid’s education. The most successful students in my classrooms have always had strong parental involvement.

    • Oh yes! Ultimately it is the parents that set the tone of how learning is perceived for children. They can do so much to support or tear teachers down behind the scenes. Thanks for your hard work as a teacher, Jill!

  3. This has become a hot button topic for many people. We pulled our children from public school 6 years ago to home school them. We have 3 children 2 of whom have learning disabilities. It is nearly impossible for the public school to provide the much needed one on one time that my children required to learn. Now remember each school district is different. I know many people who have their children in public school and they are doing great. But for us the decision was a no brainer. Your right…it is not easy. There are so many days I really want to throw in the towel and just send them back to public school. We hear all the time from our neighbors, “When are you going to start sending them to school?” Is home schooling for everyone…no way. But I must say over the past few years there are many more options out there for us….Especially with the internet.

    Whatever your education decision is for your children please remember, it is vitally important that you talk with your kids. Make sure you know who they are friends with, what they are doing. Often we put our blinders on and think we do know. I’m saying this from experience.

    • I am so glad you have found something that is working for your family. It is wonderful to see that you realized something was not working and found a way to allow your children to excel better.

      THANK YOU for the reminder to always be aware of what is going on. You are so right. Even when they are home with us we need to be vigilant.

  4. I absolutely agree that we must honor each person’s decision about how to educate their child. I am a teacher and a mother…my sons are in public schools. I believe I am the most important person in my children’s education, but I also see it as my responsibility to communicate with the teacher when I feel my sons’ needs are not being met. Teachers are tied to curriculum…believe me, I am sometimes very frustrated by it, but I am not tied to teaching all the children the same way. As a teacher, I must ensure I meet all my students’ needs. It is my problem if a student cannot read, but I also need the help of the parent to be successful. If someone is not happy with their public school, I strongly recommend talking with the teacher about what can be done to remedy the situation. Teachers are trained in differentiating. I can do it with 25 students. I know some teachers have much more challenging classrooms than myself, but I don’t think public schools should just be looked at in terms of their curriculum.

    • Thank you so much for your comment! It is so good to hear from public school teachers. My sister is also a teacher in the public school, and I am always glad to hear of teachers that are rising above “the system.” I do think (from the experiences I have heard) that some administrators/schools are better to work with than others. In certain situations it is harder than others for teachers.

      I love what you said about not looking at teachers just in terms of curriculum. SO true!

  5. We do some of each of the three. Our son goes to a private school, and our daughter with special needs is homeschooled and receives some services through the public school. These options seem to meet each child’s needs at this point. It may not be what we do the rest of their school career. We are so blessed in this country to have many options. Not everyone has a choice regarding the schooling of their children (thinking specifically of missionaries). But whatever the situation may be, we can always be sure of God’s enabling grace and protection.

    • I love how you are using all the options available to you to meet your children’s needs! And you are SO right. We are incredibly blessed with many, many options in this country. And yes, yes, yes, to God’s enabling grace and protection no matter what the situation!

  6. I enjoyed reading this great post! Currently, our daughter (who is in 2nd grade) attends a public school in order to receive the special education services offered there (she receives 21 hrs. per week of therapy which includes vision, occupational, speech, and orientation and mobility). While we would LOVE for her to attend our church’s christian school (whose academics are outstanding, and where my husband teaches!) that is not an option since they would be unable to provide her with the necessary support. However, we have begun to research other educational options for her since we strongly believe she would benefit from a more specialized setting tailored to her specific needs. We know first-hand that what works for one person may not work for another and what works for one child may not be the same for another child either (we plan to enroll our son in the christian school next fall). Thanks again for this post.

    • I love how you are continuing to research and find options for your daughter. I admire that so much.

      “We know first-hand that what works for one person may not work for another and what works for one child may not be the same for another child either.” — LOVE that!

  7. Johanna,

    This is a very succinct post on a complicated topic–nice work! You are right, how to educate your children is a very personal decision.

    One thing that parents of preschoolers should know is that these days, both public and private schools need a lot of help from parents via fundraising and volunteering. Gone are the days of simply dropping your child off and then picking them up six hours later! The needs are so intense that I started a blog about it: parentssavingschools.com.

    I am in the slightly awkward position of being a busy, involved PTA board member at my sons’ school, but also considering homeschooling. My older son has some special needs that make the school day very stressful for him.

    If we homeschool, I would enroll him in a public online charter so that we could still have access to services that the district is required to provide to students that need them.

    • That is so awesome that you are trying to help save the schools. I agree, the public online charter is a great thing. I’m so glad that the public schools has made that available. I hope you find a great solution for your son. Off to check out your site. :)

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