A guest post from Jessica at Candle in the Night blog!

I’ve known for years that I would teach my children at home. There are many reasons to homeschool, one of which is this verse.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7: And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

After experiencing public schools from the teacher’s perspective, my resolve to home school is even stronger. There is no way I’d send my children to a public school. Not when there’s a way that is so much better.

A Look at Homeschooling from a Former Public School Teacher

I taught fifth grade in a smaller school district for two years. I’d like to share with you some of the differences I have seen between homeschooling and public schooling. Let’s start with the academic side of school.

Public School: Ratio: 20-25 to 1 or if you’re lucky, 2. One teacher to 25 students, all with different needs, learning styles, and backgrounds.

Home School: Ratio: 1-6 (or 7 or 8) to 1 or 2. Still one teacher (or two if Dad’s helping), but this time only a handful of students, still with different needs, learning styles, and backgrounds.

Public School: Students are new each year. The teachers literally have to relearn how to teach with each new class that walks through their doors because each class is so different than the previous one.

Home School: Students are well known. In fact, their teachers (aka Mom and Dad) probably know then better than anyone else. This includes their learning styles, strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and background. When a new school year starts, there isn’t any time wasted figuring these things out. There may be tweaking along the way, but for the most part, a home school family is able to jump right in to learning.

A Look at Homeschooling from a Former Public School Teacher

Public School: Teaching is geared toward the middle of the class. This is absolutely not an insult to public school teachers. It’s simply a fact. A teacher has to put out huge effort to reach each child. Those at the top and bottom often get lost. The best teachers will make sure those students are also learning as best they can, but there are only so many hours in a day. The way our education system is set up, everyone evens out. This is so frustrating to most teachers because not only do we hate to leave the children behind who don’t quite grasp a concept, we would also much prefer to see the children at the top of the class excel and advance according to their ability.

Home School: Teaching is personalized. If a child is struggling, they get extra attention. There’s no “rest of the class” who has to move on without them. They learn the material and then move on. Plain and simple. If they’re bright, they can advance quickly. There’s no one to say a student can’t be doing fifth grade reading in the third grade. If they already know how to add and subtract at age five, there’s nobody saying, “Well, they all even out in a couple years”, they are allowed to do second grade math. Children who are taught at home are far more likely to reach their learning potential as the teaching can be geared toward them specifically.

Public School: Standardized Testing. Need I say more? Much of the spring semester is geared toward preparing for standardized tests. These tests are a total waste of time (I know…my opinion) and end up taking anywhere from two to six weeks in some districts to prepare for and administer. There is very little that they actually tell the teachers or parents and have no instructional value for the students.

A Look at Homeschooling from a Former Public School Teacher

Home School: Standardized testing is optional. Many homeschooling families choose to have their students take the state standardized test, but it’s either just for fun, out of curiosity, or to give them practice for taking the ACT or SAT later down the road. It’s totally optional and therefore takes no time away from instruction. The families I’ve seen do testing with their children have taken them to a private school that administers the test over two or three days. Never have I seen a homeschooling family take six weeks out of their instruction for testing.

These are just some of the academic advantages to homeschooling. In the next post, I’ll be sharing the moral and *fun* advantages to homeschooling!

6 Comments on A Look at Homeschooling from a Former Public School Teacher (Part 1)

  1. Thanks for that post! I totally agree about the standardized testing and the class sizes – it looks like nowdays all we are teaching children how to do is write tests! Having had two parents who were both teachers at the local public high schools, however, I disagree about teaching to the middle of the class. When I myself considered teaching, my parents’ advice was, teach for the top where you will find your passion and enthusiasm, and then for the bottom where you will find your compassion and inspiration…if you just teach for the middle you will go insane within a week because there will be no feedback. But I am still rather glad I never tried school teaching myself (aiming for college lecturing one day soon)- it is the hardest job!

  2. Just have to state that standardized testing isn’t optional for everyone. It’s important for homeschoolers to know and follow homeschool laws. In my state (MN) it’s required for all homeschoolers. (Although the results do not get sent to the public school or state.) Teaching to the test like they do in public school is optional though. I don’t. And we only use the results as a general guide to see if there’s any area of learning that needs more work. Otherwise, I completely agree with your post! Being able to teach my kids at their level and per their needs has been the number 1 reason (among many many) why we homeschool.

  3. I was a public school teacher also. I’m so grateful to finally be teaching my own children at home. We accomplish twice as much learning in half the time. It’s beautiful. God has blessed our family immensely. I wish we had started when my 20 year old was little, but he graduated from a public school 2 years ago. We started homeschooling the younger ones the year he graduated.

    I wish standardized testing was always optional. In many states, my state of Colorado is one of them, nationally standardized testing is mandatory every odd year of school. I think that starts in 3rd grade. We definitely don’t waste months preparing for it and it took about an hour a day for 6 days to complete the IOWA tests at home. When I taught in TX, everything we taught revolved around the spring testing. We had monthly or quarterly “practice” tests and all of our worksheets looked just like the tests. It was frustrating. After testing was done, school was essentially over. I know other teachers who did nothing but read aloud, read silently and watch movies for the rest of the year. There was no instruction after April testing. A solid month of learning time was wasted.

    No time is wasted in my home now. We learn year-round. Summers are more flexible and fun, but still involve learning and practicing skills we already know. We garden, sew, cook, bake, can food, swim, hike, etc. We do life together. We teach our children instead of teaching subjects and curriculum.

    • Lisa,
      You’re absolutely right! I feel so blessed to live in Missouri where we have some of the most relaxed homeschooling regulations in the country. It’s sad that all homeschooling families don’t have the same freedoms, but great that standardized testing doesn’t have to completely control the way you teach either. 🙂

  4. I was going to point out that in some states standardized testing is mandatory, even for homeschoolers, but I see that’s already been addressed. It’s still true that we don’t typically spend so much time preparing for it, though!

    It is unfortunate that some people assume homeschoolers think poorly of teachers. I think school teachers have an extremely hard job, given the system within which they have to work.

    Well-written (and well-thought-through) post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *