Switching from Homeschool to Public School

People think of homeschoolers and public schoolers as completely separate groups, but we – along with many others – switch back and forth between the two methods. Learn why, and what it’s like switching from homeschool to public school. You might also enjoy reading about our original switch from public school to homeschool.

We switch back and forth between homeschool and public school. Learn why, and what it's like to switch from homeschool to public school. #homeschool #publicschool #edchat #parenting #parentingtips

Why Switch from Homeschool to Public School?

I just finished a year of homeschooling my 13-year-old and my 9-year-old. We had a fantastic year where I enjoyed spending time with them, and I feel like they learned a lot. I’m writing a post tomorrow on some of the many, many things we learned while homeschooling these past two years.

But this fall I’m sending all four kids to public school. Here’s why.

#1 You Don’t Have to Switch Schooling Methods Permanently

Right now, we plan to send all our kids to public school for only one year. The following year (2020-2021) we have a minimum of three months of overseas travel planned for the middle of the school year thanks to Mike’s job. I plan to homeschool all four children that year, rather than set up independent study through our elementary, middle, and high schools.

We are relatively new to homeschooling – I started in the fall of 2017, but it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience for us, and one that I hope we can come back to.

#2 I’m a Huge Fan of Eclectic Educations

I spent my childhood unschooled, homeschooled, public schooled, and private schooled – both in and out of the United States.

I didn’t always love moving as much as I did as a kid, but I actually did love experiencing such a broad range of schools. School for me as a child ranged from running barefoot on my grandfather’s farm to competitive private schools overseas.

Some of the private schools I went to were amazing. Some were absolute rubbish. The one public school I went to in the United States was pretty mediocre. I found aspects of the public school I taught at inspiring. The teachers at my children’s public school – and the students – are incredible.

I was the only non-Guatemalan at one of two schools I went to in Guatemala. I went to two French public magnet schools. One was tough but amazing; the other still tough and not so amazing.

Sometimes school was happy and sometimes it was sad, but looking back I can’t think, “Oh, I wish I never went to that school.” Because even the negative experiences taught me a lot.

Bullying taught me empathy for minorities and underdogs. Useless classes led me to the library, where I discovered a lifelong love of social science. Some amazing teachers combined with a houseful of books gave me the education I needed to succeed at a top ranked university. Unschooling on the farm taught me to value things that truly matter above any prestige.

Would I send my children to every single one of the schools I attended? Absolutely not – they were sometimes incredibly painful. But the life learning I gained taught me that it’s okay to try new things. In our home, that means sometimes we homeschool and sometimes we public school.

#3 You Can Keep Teaching Kids While They Go to Public School

I’ve always done a lot of afterschool learning with my kids. I love to teach, and I love exploring new activities with my kids, from science experiments to exploring the world.

Sending my kids to public school means that we might need to be more mindful of when and how learning happens, but there’s no reason for it to stop happening! As a bonus, I can now focus on the learning that I enjoy doing with them instead of worrying about keeping on track with every single subject.

#4 Social Learning (not to be confused with socialization)

I actually find most homeschoolers to be very well socialized – with their peers and adults.

Social learning, however, can be challenging if you haven’t found a solid homeschool coop. We haven’t, and this has been a struggle for my kids and writing especially. I find that my kids learn an awful lot by talking to their peers, particularly when it comes to processing books and learning to write.

Our local public school excels at teaching writing, and I think my kids will benefit from another year with a truly solid writing curriculum.

Do you have to switch from homeschool to public school to make this type of social learning happen? Absolutely not. I could put together a fantastic class of students, or find one. Maybe I’ll do that the following year.

#5 Switching Between Homeschool and Public School Accommodates Different Parent Priorities

My husband Mike spent his entire childhood going to California public schools. From kindergarten through high school, he grew and thrived in California schools.

Since his experience was so positive, it’s completely natural for him to want the same experience for our kids.

At the same time, I feel like being exposed to different forms of schooling helped me develop socially and emotionally as well as intellectually. I’m also a huge fan of free time, and public school often makes a scarcity of free time, particularly when children have serious extracurricular interests (that would be music, for my kids).

Our compromise so far has been to first ask our kids their preferences and then alternate which parent gets the tie breaking vote. This fall it’s Mike’s turn.

This fall will be the first ever year with all four children in school. The following year will likely be the first year with all four children homeschooling. Two big firsts!

Have you ever switched from homeschool to public school? Why or why not?

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MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

6 thoughts on “Switching from Homeschool to Public School”

  1. I admire your flexibility – making these choices can be so overwhelming. I can’t wait to hear the stories from the next year when everyone gets to experience a public school and even more so from the year after that when you will be world schooling. Good luck!

    1. Thanks! I am especially looking forward to the world schooling year since I have always wanted to do that, but I think next year will also be a good experience for all of us. I can work without kids needing me every five minutes for the first time in over 13 years!

  2. This is a great post! Today we signed the papers for my second-oldest to follow in the footsteps of my oldest, attending the same public school, specifically to participate in the music program. My oldest is thriving there. Now I have a goal of trying to get him ready to test into as many advanced classes as possible, since the students in these classes are much less disruptive.

  3. I find it fascinating you and your husband switch off who has the tie-breaker on that.
    I’m with you on not wanting to take away any of my bad experiences from either school or life in general because it would totally change who I am.
    I can’t wait to hear about your worldschooling because I am so incredibly jealous!

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