Girlfriend to Girlfriend: Homeschool vs. Traditional School, Part 1

 
Girlfriend to girlfriend, can we talk? 
 
This isn’t the usual for Bearing Branch, but it has been on my mind often lately. It’s that age-old conversation of homeschooling vs. traditional schooling. I’ve been mulling the benefits of both in my mind lately as we’ve ventured down both roads. Today those thoughts are leaving my mind and being pecked out, one key click at a time, for the world to see.
 
Before we start, please let me mention that I’m not an “all or nothing” kind of girl when it comes to school. Although I dearly love homeschooling, I believe you go where the Lord leads. And that includes schooling. 
 
You pray. 
You listen. 
You go. 
 
There are good things on both sides of the fence, and in our case, it’s a Christian school on the traditional side of the fence. Whether a public school or different style of private school will compare, I’m not certain. In some arenas, probably. In others, most likely not. Weigh with wisdom, my friend.
 
It was nearly nine years ago. I paced down the long, dark hall to my 2nd grader’s classroom as tears welled within both my heart and eyes. The school year was merely beginning, a meager two months in. His teacher was a keeper, the kind you requested and prayed your children had. She was sweet. Maybe a grandmother. Her brown hair and smile were both warm and inviting. She was young-looking for her age. 
 
Oh, if I can look that young when I get to be her age…
 
But I digress….
 
I wasn’t certain I wanted to homeschool, but the Lord was calling, so it was time to dive.
 
Headfirst.
Hold the nose.
Just go.
 
Go to the depths the Lord was calling us. 
 
Obedience. 
Faith. 
Just dive.
 
And so we did. Our family of five wrote eight years’ worth of homeschooling chapters. I cried at the beginning of the first chapter because I wasn’t certain I “could” or “wanted” to do this. So much for my free time! (How selfish is that?! But it’s real.)
 
Eight years. 
Three states. 
Multiple moves.  
 
Our chapters were comprised of each of these and more..

But on this latest move? The Lord was once again calling us out of our comfort zone, calling us to end our homeschooling chapters and begin a new one. This time it was at a Christian school with a traditional schedule. Two of our three had never attended a traditional school, but this new chapter opened the opportunity.
 
We’re now five months into this new chapter. There have been a few eraser marks, a few mistakes here and there, but the chapter is coming along nicely. 
 
Don’t be fooled. Sometimes I miss homeschooling. There are an abundance of pros to that lifestyle. But then again, there are many pros in the column for our new schooling situation as well. Today we’ll venture into the pros of homeschooling.
TIME FOR PEOPLE…older folks, each other, friends, and family. We had more time for each of them. It was easier to visit, write letters, and make phones calls. And not only was there more time, but I found that our children adapted well and conversed more with multiple age groups during our homeschooling years.
 
FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE…doctor’s appointments were easy to schedule, so was dinner together at the family table. Trips to the library were frequent as were field trips that allowed the learning to be soaked in to new levels. We could school on the road and during moves or call for a school break. Taking an off-season vacation was one of the best, less-crowded, money-saving attributes to the flexible schedule. Having extra playtime was another. And getting a solid eight hours + of nightly sleep? It was a keeper!
 
CURRICULUM CHOICE…subjects, styles, authors, a Christian bent or not, we could choose them all. Cursive instruction isn’t included in many schools now, but it was in ours. In fact, one of our children was recently asked to help several current classmates, who had come from various schools, with their cursive writing endeavor. Time for God? You bet! We had many “golden nugget” moments that would never have happened had we not homeschooled. Those moments were and continue to be priceless.
 
VARIED LEARNING…models, maps baked out of cookie dough, sewn projects, books, written letters, songs sung, and more. We used a variety of learning methods. Because we were small, it was a luxury time afforded.
 
INNOCENCE…our children retained much of their childhood innocence. They were socially involved. There were sport activities, music, homeschool groups, and simply spending time with people. However, much of the loss of innocence that is evident in children today, concerning sexual relations and the early boyfriend/girlfriend scene that can lead to it, violence, strong language, drugs and the likes, were squelched or avoided. Were we able to shield them from everything bad? No, and we certainly haven’t always been perfect. We live in a fallen world. But, after adjusting to the new school and being surrounded by a multitude of respectful and good kids, it is evident that ours were sheltered a bit more during their homeschooling years. For that I am ever thankful. It’s a good thing.
 
There were loads of pros to homeschooling once we dove into its waters. I couldn’t see them at the surface, but once my family and I dove, we found treasure.
 
The pros of traditional schooling will be included in my next post. (Yes, I believe there are a few!) Stay tuned for part two. In the meantime, feel free to pass this blog link along to your friends who are considering a schooling change.
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5 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I agree with all of those pros, with one exception. The first one. Even though, we as a family have more time for friends and family (which is very important) I have friends with whom I would like to have more time, but can’t because of homeschooling. Not a reason to quit homeschooling, but something that has crossed my mind.

    1. Believe it or not, I agree. Maybe I should have specified that the children had more time for people when we homeschooled. Due to homework and sports, they have much less time now with a trad’l school. I, on the other hand, have much more time now, which sounds like your comment. It is difficult to get time in with friends while homeschooling. It has to become intentional, but if you’re like me, I wondered where those add’l hours were going to come from. I hope to speak more about this very subject in Part 2. Thanks for mentioning it and your honestly. 🙂

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful post, Kristi. I appreciate your point of view. I got pushed into homeschooling since we live overseas where public schools are poor. I enjoyed it, but it was a sacrific, and now in high school, I’ve found it to be very challenging since my kids don’t have access to outside help like home school co-ops and community colleges. We’ve paid for a few on-line classes and mostly slugged it out ourselves. I’ve wondered, “Will they really get the education they need?” I was SO relieved when my son scored very well on the SAT and ACT. He’ll graduate, and I’ll be SO glad to be left with one student. (sorry for the book I’ve written here!)