July 27, 2014

Home School, Private School or Public School: Touchy Subject


A recent post on the New York Times parenting site made this statement. “There are certain words you learn to use carefully when you write about parenting. Breastfeeding is one. Co-sleeping is another. Home schooling is on the list, too. These are words that tend to divide parents by world views that they did not necessarily even know they had.“

Educational choices are such a touchy subject, and like the quote above, one may step on toes with out any intention of doing so, just by bringing up the discussion of school choice. Since I am a home school veteran and a trainer/speaker within the home school community, I’m often asked why I don’t address more home school subjects on this blog.

People want to know why I home school, what curriculum we use, how to handle specific issues for various grades, along with a myriad of other topics. Two and a half years ago when I began Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, I had this crazy idea that I could write a separate blog just for our home school journey. HA, that was when I didn’t really even know what a blog was, and before I realized  how time consuming this one blog would become.

As much as I would love to address home school topics for those of you who are curious, I just don’t have the time to focus and give them the concentrated time to effectively communicate my vision through written posts, nor is that what I am called to write about now. Honestly, I don’t mind heart to heart conversations on topics that tend to be potentially confrontational, and based on The New York Times post, this is one of them, but those conversations I prefer to have in real life.

Home schooling is a complete lifestyle for our family, and that philosophy weaves in and out of every aspect of our life. Our oldest will be 18 in November, and we have been home schooling since the beginning. There has been just one exception to that this year, our two oldest sons took  three classes at a local military academy that enabled them to play football with their high school team. While we will not continue there this upcoming year, it was a great option for the interim.

As parents, each of us are the final authority on our children.

We know our children best. We have studied them. We know their personalities, needs, quirks, and no one loves our children more than we do. With that underlying premise, you will never hear me share on this blog that everyone should home school their children. I can not begin to be anyone’s Holy Spirit, nor would I make a judgment call for anyone, since that is such a personal choice for each family.

I have strong convictions for our family, but again, this is something our family has been called to, not necessarily yours.  I am only responsible for my children, no one else‘s, and it’s frustrating to me when any kind of “side,” so to speak, presumes to tell others what to do when they haven’t walked in their shoes.

Honestly, I believe that every mom out there is a home school mom.

What, you say? I could never home school my child!

Trust me, every single one of us are home school moms. Since birth, you have been, and still are, the primary educator of your child whether you choose to put them in public, private or school them at home. You are continually teaching your child so many important things on a daily basis, in school and out. Your calling is to love, nurture, guide and educate them on all sorts of life issues, and as a mom, that role should never be abdicated. Again, that will look different in every home.

I will be your cheerleader and encourage you to be the most intentional, hands-on parent that you can be for your family. My desire is to help cast a long term generational parenting vision. If some of you choose to look into home schooling as an option, then I am honored if I had any role in that, but that is not the goal of my blog.

Since I am one of the home school speakers at a large conference this weekend, I thought this was an appropriate time to answer just one of the questions that I have avoided in my inbox due to time constraints, and since 66 % of you have children in public school, 20% have children in private school and 26% home school their children, this will never become a home school blog. There are fabulous ones that do that so well already.  These stats are based on my reader survey and yes, the answers equal more than 100% since some have children in all three forms of education.

So will I blog more about home schooling?

Not necessarily, but what you will continue to see in terms of home schooling posts are those life learning lessons that are sprinkled through out our home which any parent can glean from whether they have children in public, private or home school. (And yes, many of those life lessons center around frugality in some form or the other.)


  1. Is that not the sweetest picture?! WOW!

  2. Jen, you’ve given such a graceful answer. While I’d love to learn from your years of experience, you should definitely keep doing what you have been called to do.

  3. Well written post! While we have chosen public school for our children, I have the utmost respect for people who choose other options. I think it is important for our children’s futures that we as parents support others decisions, even if they are different from our own.

    Joy Reply:

    I agree with you Daphne!

    I wish I had the patience to home school, but I don’t. But I certainly admire and respect those who can. I do work extra at home though with one of my sons who has a non-verbal learning disability on improving his math and reading skills.

    Love the picture! So sweet. :)

  4. Sara Matthews says:

    Again, great post and great respect for all. Every child, family, school and age is different and calls for different approaches. While I plan on using public school for my son I know that education will not stop there. Parental involvement is key no matter the education choice. Again, respect to all!

  5. This is so beautifully written and so lovingly conveyed. Really, all I can say is “thank you.” The world needs many, many more cheerleaders and far fewer self-proclaimed judges of righteousness. :)

    Kerry D. Reply:

    @JessieLeigh, YES, I so agree… cheering, encouragement, and compassion! Our lives are complex and challenging enough. I know what worked for my children and my family (including home births and seasons of homeschooling) isn’t necessarily what will work for another. :) Group hug to all you awesome parents.

  6. april yedinak says:

    I love your picture on this post. I homeschool my children, but believe me, there are days I wish I could afford boarding school! Haha.

  7. Great article! I absolutely agree. It’s interesting how much division we can have out there on this topic. And although when I began homeschooling I was a bit high minded about it without realizing it, I quickly understood that not everyone can or should.We should be concerned about empowering each family to follow their path and what works for them. At the end of the day we are each accountable for our families as in the parables, what have we done with what has been given. We should be supporting each other as a community. I speak to teen parents and I tell them how they raise their children affects me as well as how I raise mine affects them. Although we all have different paths we are a community who need each other and need support.

    I am glad that your honest and transparent, to me that is what blesses people and builds community.


  8. Ladybug's Mom says:

    I have been a public school teacher for 10 years and you are so right. Every child IS different, and what works for some, won’t work for all. Parents know their children better than anyone else and therefore, are the best people to assess which mode of education will make their child excell and become a happy, well-adjusted, productive adult.

  9. So often I have thought that homeschooling would be easier than having my kids in public school. My energy peak is in the morning… but my “homeschooling” begins in the middle of my energy dip when they get off the bus in the afternoon! Great article, Jen! Blessings!

  10. Thank you so much for this wonderful, well-written post. We homeschooled all 3 of our boys for many years. Now the oldest 2 are in public school and we are very thankful for the opportunities that they have had there. I have to say, however, that I was very hesitant to tell fellow homeschool parents that we would be sending our oldest to public school, for fear of judgmental attitudes towards us. Very sad….I was always SO thankful for dear friends and acquaintances that encouraged us and knew that we were doing what we thought was best for our family!

  11. I’ve done all 3 with my kids and there are advantages and disadvantages to the all! My girls were in a private school that I absolutely loved. The had every advantage and opportunity that I could imagine, more than I could give them at home. The downside was that I afforded it as long as I possibly could without living in a box and we switched to homeschooling. We had so much fun. It was relaxed and eclectic. I didn’t have a specific curriculum but with my oldest daughter, I didn’t need one. She is extremely gifted and I think I could leave her alone with an algebra book and she would teach me! I really think my middle one needs the social aspect of school–she’s a group learner and she feeds off others (extrovert?) My littlest one is a mixture his sisters. If I could homeschool him part time I think he would thrive. When we moved here 4 years ago, my husband took a job with the public school. I really felt obligated to put the kids in school simply to pacify those who signed his paycheck. Bad reason I know but it was just something I felt I needed to do. I went back to work full time so now homeschooling would be a stretch but I still would enjoy it. I could go on and on about what’s wrong with public school (in general) these days but I won’t…I’m sure you probably already know all the things I will whine about ;) That said, my kids have been blessed with exceptional teachers this year and they have been very successful. I can’t say that will happen every year but we have had a good year.

    One thing I will say about homeschooling is that there are so many hoops you have to jump through in certain states. When we moved here, we actually considered Texas instead because the homeschool regulations weren’t strict (they may be now though). There are states that require you to be a certified teacher to homeschool your kids. Your own kids! Ugh, I don’t need to get started on that soapbox!

  12. About the picture-this is why I LOVE LOVE LOVE having 10 children and 19 yrs between the oldest and the youngest!!! The relationships between my older ones and my younger ones is just precious.
    I love seeing those older brothers loving on their baby brothers and sisters. I have so many pics like the one you shared, and it just warmed my heart all over again! I am an only child, so the bond shared among my children is something of a mystery to me, but something that attracts me again and again.
    Thanks for making my day brighter by sharing such a sweet time between 2 of yours!!

  13. Such a wonderful reminder, you can’t be the Holy Spirit for anyone and one family’s educational choices will vary greatly from another. And for those moms who do not home school that reminder that you are still your child’s greatest teacher is so important. Too often, some parents do abdicate that role, and often to their child’s detriment. I say “some” because I know many who do not. But unfortunately I do know those who forget that. Thanks for sharing your own thoughts on such a complex subject! (and I’m wishing I was in your area to attend that conference!)

  14. What a beautiful picture! I’ve done both homeschooling and public school. We each have to decide what is best for OUR family and no one else’s. We also need to not make others feel bad because they choose a route different than our own. That is one thing that really upsets me. I’m never quite sure why, as mothers we try to convince others that we have the perfect solution. We teach our children against bullying and then we turn right around and do it to others. I have a friend who makes a point of bringing private school up in every conversation and how she would NEVER send her kids to public school – my kids are in public school – it’s a definite dig each time and it’s hurtful. I’ve told her, she still does it so I limit my time with her. Private school isn’t even on the radar for us. Anyway, all that to say that we should all be kind to each other, even if we feel passionately about our own choice – be considerate of others. Moms make the best choices they can for their kids.

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  15. Wonderful post Jen! Before I had my children I was a public school teacher teaching Special Education. My kids started off in public schools and then, based on what was the best choice for our family and the needs of our children, we started homeschooling them in grades 4 and 5 and continued through high school. Now that my children are all adults I am back as a substitute teacher in the public schools. I have always believed that each family must do what is right for their children and that every child deserves the best education possible whether it be public, private, homeschooling or a combination thereof. Those years of homeschooling were some of the toughest but at the same time the most rewarding for our family. I am thankful that we had the choice to pick what worked for our family since many in other countries do not.

  16. Thank you for this! My older son and I will be embarking on our homeschool journey as he starts kindergarten this fall. I have been astounded at the reactions I receive when I tell people we’ve made the choice to homeschool. I’ve been enthusiastically supported by strangers and chastised by close friends. It’s puzzling to me that those ask and seem genuinely interested in hearing why we’ve made that choice are the same ones who then become extremely defensive about their own choices to use public schooling. It always seems that I’m walking on eggshells when the subject comes up. Your post reminds me that I need not apologize for choosing to follow God’s leading in raising my children! I will continue to search for the words that speak with confidence about my choice yet affirm that every parent’s choices are valid, however different.

    mmclassics Reply:

    I hope you are having a great time with your kindergartner. I began homeschooling my older two in 5th grade. This is my first year with kindergarten. It is such fun. Remember that a personal tutor takes a LOT less time than a classroom teacher of 28. Exploration, shapes, walks, hugs.

    Boy I would miss out on those hugs during the day if he was in school all day! I must admit that I am a bit more relaxed with him than I was for his older brother. On the other hand, when I looked at the state’s objectives for his level, I think he had them almost all covered before the year began. Basic phonics, math, Bible, etc. He is learning a lot about American History this year because it is the focus of our homeschool co-op. His big sister is really learning about it. My little one is being exposed to everything and finding it VERY interesting. We are learning states and capitals too. I makes the weather channel a lot more fun!

  17. Thanks for the great post! It has been difficult (as a pastor’s wife) over the years to watch people feel they need to make decisions for others as to the best schooling or worse, the only biblical schooling choice for other families.
    Observation has shown that it just isn’t the best decision for some families for a variety of reasons…at least not for every child for every year of their education. Wisdom has shown that we are all homeschooling parents (as you said). The question is how much of the day we are doing it? Many of us do better at it when we aren’t doing every aspect of it all the time. Others do fine with that.
    Learning what is best for our own marriages and families and having the courage to be different (within the broad Biblical framework of course) takes courage for many of us, but that’s what life is all about…and growth in grace!

  18. Caroline says:

    I’m so glad you said it’s up to each family and child to determine what type of schooling is best. Throughout my education my parents sent me to public school, private school, and they also homeschooled me, almost split evenly over the 13 years! I personally loved being homeschooled the best, but I don’t yet know how I will school my children. It really is a decision based largely on family dynamics, the children’s personalities, life situation, and God’s calling.

  19. While I am disappointed not to get to hear more about your homeschooling, I respect that decision. I mostly wanted to comment to say that has to be about the most heart-warming picture I’ve ever seen!

    Jen Reply:

    Trust me, if I can figure out how to squeeze more time or balance the time I do have more effectively, I’ll write about homeschooling. :) And it doesn’t mean I won’t ever talk homeschooling, it’s just a topic that takes time to write about and I want to do it well once I do. :)

  20. Like everybody else said, thank you for such a thoughtful approach to a potentially polarizing topic. A family member of ours is an extremely staunch supporter of one type of schooling and posts multiple times a day about how any other kind of schooling is damaging for children. My daughter’s only 18 months so we have some time to figure out how we’ll guide her education, but said family member and his family arrive to our house in a few days to stay with us for 12 days (!) and I’m going to keep your article handy to help me extend grace and hopefully open the door of his heart for a more balanced perspective as well. This couldn’t have come at a better time!

  21. Beautifully written! I was at the conference and I missed you again. :-)

  22. You are so graceful!

  23. thank u so much for ur kind and thoughtful aproach to this topic. for the 1st time ever, we are sending our children to public school. it has been a leap of faith for our family, but the direction we knew the Lord was leading. it is sad that altho we know that the LORD has called us here, others judge our sprituality based on the ? -”what do u guys do for school?” believe me, we KNOW what’s in the public school and that’s why it was fearful to send them there! :) however, i felt the Lord asking me again and again, “do u trust Me with ur children?”. i am thankful that this season has taught me to pray for my children with a greater urgency and to trust the Lord w/ my husband and my most precious ppl!

  24. Great post! I agree that schooling our children is a very personal choice whether we choose public, private or home schooling. I also agree that as parents we are constantly teaching our kids by the way we act and react to situations.

  25. Sue@HousePretty says:

    Your article was fantastic! My husband are in the middle of doing some research, and will be making up our mind for sure about home school by the end of next week, since he is starting his vacation and will have the time to devote to the issue. I am totally for it, he still needs to get some questions answered to be totally on board, so to speak.

    In the area we live in, in New Brunswick, Canada, we are having several problems in the public school system. Bullying is one of the “biggies”. The other one is the teachers pushing the kids through the system, and then the children graduating without being able to read at a high school level. Scary to think what happens to them when they head to University!

    Jen Reply:

    Yep, same problems here in the states. Take your time and have your hubby ask veteran homeschoolers in your area. There are so many perspectives, but I am sure someone can answer all his questions. :)

  26. If I ever meet you in real life, I’m gonna give you a big, fat hug. Thank you for this!

    Jen Reply:

    @Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs, And when will that be because I sure would love to meet you IRL. :) Any conferences in your future?

    Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs Reply:

    @Jen, Hee, hee! Not until after I pay off my student loans!! Which will hopefully happen this year!

  27. Wow, I could have written this myself! I’ve been homeschooling for 20 years and have come to this very same conclusion. I believe homeschooling is the best way for OUR family and I would never, ever presume to think I know what’s best for someone else’s family.

    Even though I am a staunch supporter of homeschooling, I get very, very uncomfortable when I hear people say that Christian’s shouldn’t put their children in public school even if I personally believe that to be true, because that is an OPINION. And we should not divide on opinions. Thank you for posting this gracious, well thought blog post.

  28. I was so glad to have the opportunity to hear you speak this weekend not once, but TWICE!!

    As a home school mom, public school mom and college mom, I appreciate your comments. Parents must decide what is best for their child/ren. I regret not homeschooling my oldest, but won’t get into that here. My middle son is in public high school, with no desire to be home schooled, which is fine with me. He thrives in a public school setting. My youngest started out in public school, but by second grade, it was clear that teaching her at home was the best option for her and for us. Don’t get me wrong, it has not been all roses and butterflies. There are days when I am pulling my hair out and I’m pretty sure she wants to help! LOL But, I’ve never regretted my decision. As parents, we have to do what is best for our children as individuals, because each one is different.

    Thanks again.

    PS: would love some more info on Ridgecrest!

    Jen Reply:

    Thanks for your sweet comments, even after my first session was such a mess. ;) I was a mess!

    Our Conference registration will be launched sometime this week. We are still working on setting up the website/registration. :) Be on the look out for the details (August 12-13).

  29. I have one son, who has always gone to private school. We decided it was the place for him when he was entering first grade. It was the right decision for us. But, I never realized at the time, how controversial a decision it was, and mostly between friends and family, whose opinions I respected and trusted. Some questioned us, and just didn’t understand. Others were downright angry! That surprised me the most. I still to this day, don’t understand their reactions. To me, it was a decision between my husband and myself. We knew what we was looking for, and the school we chose was a great fit. No one knows your child like you do. I am glad we made our own decision, and stuck to what we knew was right for our son.

  30. Really great and easy starting material!

  31. I breastfed both my kids and continue to co-sleep with one child. Would I consider home schooling? Yes, but I have to work outside the home because I am the sole provider for my family. I know I couldn’t personally handle working and homeschooling. That is just me. I am grateful that my daughter is in a wonderful public school. I say to each his own. No one knows what is best for your family except for yourself. We all want the best for them. Thank you for your blog.

  32. Shellie says:

    Yay you! Home school, private school or public school, parents need to very aware of what is being taught and who is doing the teaching. Not everyone can home school but it is the best for that awareness. I was a single mom of 3 so I was not able to home school or so I thought at the time. Looking back at it now, I actually think I spent more time overseeing my children in public school than I would have home schooling. :) I was lucky, we live in a rural area, I knew the teachers and their families and there was an average of 16 children per class.


  1. [...] yes, we don’t home school our daughter, so to speak, but then, Jennifer sums it up quite accurately when she writes , “Honestly, I believe that every mom out there is a home school [...]

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