10 reasons to use public school (for a working mom)

During our stint in public school, I struggled with the decision to return to homeschooling. My reasons to use public school were good—mainly that I was starting a full-time job that required my mostly uninterrupted attention. Have I given public school a fair chance? Does homeschooling really offer enough advantages to warrant pulling them only a month into the year, especially when I will still have to work full time days?

In my typical analytical fashion, I made lists of the benefits of homeschooling and the benefits of public school. My mom suggested I further quantify it by assigning values to each of the points, but I demurred. This decision can’t be completely quantified since it is partly a heart issue. My brain should inform my heart, not completely overpower it in guiding my children’s education. After all, we are raising whole people, not just brains.

Without further ado, here are the benefits of public school. I’ll outline the benefits of homeschooling in a subsequent post.

1. I don’t have to choose and manage their education

In public school, the teachers and administration handle all of that. They even send home extra work for your kids to do over break if you want to supplement school and assign 20 minutes of reading each night so you’re not left wondering what to do for your child’s intellectual development. That’s not a guarantee that it will be the best fit for your child in particular, but a good teacher will do their best to balance the needs of all the children in their classroom.

If you homeschool, you are taking on the responsibility for your child’s entire education. It feels like you are responsible for setting them on a path toward success in life. As an experience homeschool mom, it’s not intimidating, but I’m fully aware how much work it can be. Not only do I need to consider the time I spend with my children directly, but I also need to account for research and planning time for curriculum. And I need to keep myself from falling down the rabbit hole of curriculum options that look really interesting and fun, but don’t fit my needs, and stop researching after I’ve chosen my curriculum for the year.

2. My kids like riding the bus

Well, yes, but that can’t be a huge deciding factor. Maybe we’ll take a field trip to the city and ride a bus there. Riding the bus also wastes an hour and a half to two hours per day. This, in my opinion, doesn’t even go on a list of reasons to use public school. I added it because my kids think it’s important. Sorry, kids.

3. Public school might be a bit cheaper overall

Cost estimates for childcare while in public school. In rough numbers, it would be $25,000 to $27,000, depending on the nanny's salary..
Rough estimate of the childcare costs while using public school
Cost estimates for childcare while homeschooling and working. In rough numbers, it would be $26,000 to $32,000, depending on the nanny's salary.
Rough estimate of the childcare costs while homeschooling and working

This is hard to calculate. I have to pay for daycare for my toddler year round, which runs about $200 per week. My 4K kids also need half-time daycare during the school year at $10 per hour for the two of them. On non-school days and during the summer, I’d have to pay separately for childcare for my school-aged kids. That means a nanny plus $200 per week. In my estimates, I assume the nanny’s salary would be $20-$25 per hour.

Public school has some hidden costs too. My kids need separate shoes for gym. They might also need two sets of snow pants for the winter and extra mittens because they lose or constantly soak them at school. They’d need field trip money and I can’t buy a membership to save money and take them all to the same place. We’d also probably buy more convenience foods, extra clothing, and hot lunches just to survive the strenuous schedule imposed by public school.

If we homeschool, I pay a nanny year-round and that’s it for childcare. We know the cost and it’s always the same, though the childcare cost is a bit higher than that for public school.

I’d say registration fees and curriculum costs for homeschooling are comparable. A lot of the print curriculum I’ll be able to reuse in the future and save on future homeschooling costs.

It’s hard to quantify the cost difference. One factor that can’t be quantified: What is the value of a custom education and extra free time that homeschooling provides? What is the value of the benefits that public school provides? These are personal decisions for each family, and I place a higher premium on the experience of homeschooling. For some families, finances might be the most compelling of the reasons to use public school.

4. Public school provides childcare for a large portion of the day

I don’t have to find a nanny and I don’t have to worry about the nanny quitting. The public school is always there, unless the kids get sick. And they will get sick. Probably a lot. When we had four kids under three, I used all of my paid time off caring for sick kids. I didn’t get to take off of work when I was sick. (At least I could work from home then.)

5. Kids get to see their friends daily at public school

This one of my big reasons to use public school. At school, kids (usually) form friendships with their classmates. It’s easy, at least on the surface. They see each other at an expected location during their regular routine. That doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be able to socialize outside of school since that depends on family dynamics, but at least the group of potential friends is readily available.

I have to admit this is our weakest part of homeschooling and unfortunately plays into the stereotype of the isolated homeschool kids who never develop social skills. I don’t think that ends up being the case, though. My kids interact with all sorts of people and they do have good friends. Our church and homeschool/homestead friends just happen to live 40 minutes away, so we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like. While homeschooling, it takes work to form a local network of friends.

6. Kids learn the basics of more sports and games in gym class

I have yet to find a suitable homeschool gym class. So far any options are too far away or don’t fit our ages or schedule. I’m not sure this is important at their age anyhow. At some point in their childhood, they’ll be exposed to basketball, baseball, volleyball, football, tennis, and a bunch of other traditional gym class games. It is something I keep in the back of my mind, though.

7. Kids get out of the house and the house is quiet

It is easier to work with no interruptions and in quiet. No way around this for me. I need quiet. If I don’t get at least a bit of a break from visual and auditory input, I get crabby. If the house is silent with seven kids in it, I should be concerned.

8. If our nanny quits, it might be hard to find a new one

This is a real concern. If our nanny quits with little to no notice, it might prove extremely difficult to find a replacement. Who watches the kids if she quits? I have no good solution. I hope this doesn’t happen.

9. Kids have less time to make messes around the house

I hate living in a messy house. It is stressful and occasionally hazardous to have kids clothes, toys, crafts, and everything else cluttering the floor and every other surface. If the kid aren’t here, they can’t make messes. I must accept a messier house if I want to homeschool my kids.

10. A public school is a local community

If I had to choose the biggest of my reasons to use public school, this is it. The school is a local community unto itself. It hosts social events. Kids invite classmates to their birthday parties. The school even has a directory of all of the families in the school to make it easier for families to find each other and a Parent-Teacher Club. The school is all about being a community.

For homeschooling, there are monthly meetups at the local library… that I can’t attend because I’ll be working. There are also a couple of social co-op options… that I usually can’t attend because I’ll be working. I’m hoping to find more community in the continuing activities my kids are doing, like gymnastics and dance. I’d like to find a local homesteading, homeschooling community, but that’s a bit harder since homesteading homeschoolers tend to be insanely busy.

Some of these reasons to use public school are quite compelling. I think my bias is obvious, though, both in this list and in the fact that we did return to homeschooling after a little more than a month of public school. I’ll explain 20 reasons to homeschool in my next post.

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  1. Pingback: 20 reasons to homeschool (even for a working mom) - Bustling Home

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