While homeschools and private schools have some obvious differences in terms of who attends, how they’re funded, their scheduling flexibility, and their governance, there are also some ways in which they can be quite similar. this article explores some of these.
Faith and Education
There are certain ways in which homeschools and private schools can have a lot in common. One of the main points of comparison is that—freed from the public schools’ restriction regarding the separation of church and state—both private and homeschools can offer an integrated approach to faith and education. Just as a homeschool can integrate a parent’s beliefs—whether Christian, Muslim, Latter Day Saints, Jewish, etc.—there are private schools that take a similar approach to the melding of faith and learning.
In both cases, this may mean that opportunities for prayer and worship are incorporated into the school day. It may also mean that holidays, traditions, and rituals are practiced, discussed, and included with other school activities and functions.
Another area in which homeschoolers may find themselves with a similar view to private schools is in ideas about class size. Homeschools tend to have small class sizes because they often have only the children of one family enrolled. Private schools may choose to operate with a small class size as one of their distinguishing features, separating them from the too often overcrowded classrooms of public schools. In either case, the child has both socialization opportunities, but also the benefits of a great deal of teacher attention. And of course, the opportunity for the teacher to get to know each student is increased when there are fewer students in the class.
Private schools and homeschools take advantage of some of the same curriculum products and services. Both, for example, may employ distance learning alternatives, curriculum materials from A Beka or other Christian publishers, etc. There are also private schools and homeschools that use Montessori education and Waldorf education, to name two of the most popular educational approaches.
Private residential schools share with homeschools the experience of learning with the people you live with. Although in the first case this is your classmates and the second your family, which are quite different experience, in both cases there is an integration of education and life.
Of course, there are also some differences between homeschooling and private schooling.
Instructors in private schools more often have professional teacher training than homeschoolers, although the licensing requirements for faculty at private schools may be different and less stringent than the requirements for public schools. Private schools generally have more extensive resources—including buildings, supplies, books, materials, and equipment—than homeschools can afford.
Private schools with small class sizes may be able to have extremely flexible schedules, and more flexibility about location (because of smaller costs and less planning required) than public schools, but homeschools—when funding is not an issue—are still likely to have more flexibility in both areas. And private schools are likely to offer more opportunities for large group activities (even if the large group is smaller than what you would find in a public school) than homeschools can, due to larger enrollment.
Looked at a different way, homeschools may be able to offer many of the benefits of private school without what are in some cases exorbitant tuition charges. Private school tuition can run up to $40,000, and for far less than that, one could have an absolutely fabulous homeschool experience, provided one has the commitment and ability to do so.
In fact, by taking advantage of free or low-cost resources, both those available for the community at large and specialized resources, supplemented (if desired/necessary/affordable) by private tutoring, lessons, and activities, one can create an exceptional homeschooling experience for far less than $40,000 per year. Of course, if a parent is forgoing work in order to homeschool, that is an important cost to factor in.
And in the end, the choice between private school and homeschool is a very personal one, that will depend on the factors mentioned here, and others that are particular to your family situation and your particular child’s needs.