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Switching from Public School to Home School and October Goals

Our experience switching from public school to home school – wins and losses.

Our experience switching from public school to home school - wins and losses - and setting goals for October 2017. #edchat #homeschool #parenting

This fall, my three girls switched from going to our local public school to home schooling. Our local public school is excellent, so it wasn’t a straightforward decision. My son opted to stay enrolled in our local public school, and he is thriving there. The girls love home schooling so far. I don’t know if it’s something we will do long term, but so far, at least, it’s been a great option for them this fall. I’ve had several people ask me (in real life and online) about how this decision was made and how it’s going; I thought I’d take a minute to share here.

Switching from Public School to Home School

We have always had the amazingly good fortune to live in good school districts. My children’s classes maxed out at 24 students – much smaller than many public schools in the United States. Their teachers have been caring, intelligent, and dedicated to their profession. The students are almost always thoughtful and kind.

switching from public school to home school - wins and losses

So Why Homeschool?

My three daughters are staying home for three different reasons.

Reason #1 to Homeschool: Not Enough Time

My eleven-year-old daughter generally enjoys school, but she grew increasingly frustrated over how much time was spent waiting in school. At the same time, schoolwork started to take up more and more of her free time so that she didn’t have the time she needed to explore the things she is personally most interested in. Parents of older children assured me that we were likely to miss out on very little academically if I pulled her out for sixth grade; many of her friends were leaving the public school for private schools for this year (possibly all of middle school). She has a church youth group, a choir, and (hopefully) a new chamber music group that gives her a solid social group. We decided to take this year off of school and go from there.

Reason #2 to Homeschool: Needing Space

My eight-year-old daughter has a lot of friends at school, and she loved her second grade teacher. But she is a big introvert, and every day she came home from school too stressed to do anything productive. When she learned her sister would be homeschooling, she begged to join. Like her sister, she has a church group and a choir that she belongs to where she sees other kids her age every week.

Reason #3 to Homeschool: Kindergarten

Most parents were overjoyed when our school district switched to full day kindergarten a year or two ago. I was conflicted. On the one hand, our local kindergarten curriculum is so rigorous that teachers have no time for anything fun when they have to complete the curriculum in a half day. Full day kindergarten gives teachers more time to work play and art and music into their days.

On the other hand, full day kindergarten is a long day! My daughter is a very young kindergartner. Unlike her siblings, she isn’t reading yet. Our school district spends hours and hours on literacy in kindergarten. I’m not a fan, because pushing literacy early is simply not backed by research. I didn’t mind so much with kids who were reading on their own, but with a child who wasn’t ready it didn’t make sense to send her into this program.

My five-year-old is very social, and she went back and forth deciding whether or not to homeschool. She is too young for her sisters’ church groups and choirs. She was thrilled to join a homeschool art class this fall and a gymnastics group. And she loves spending so much time with her older sisters!

Homeschool Wins

So far, the decision to homeschool my daughters has been a big win! I enrolled them in a homeschool charter school, so they have access to some homeschool classes and funds to purchase supplies and classes. They also meet with a charter school teacher once a month, which they thoroughly enjoy so far (she’s very nice AND she is the one to deliver supplies purchased using charter school funds). Our big homeschool wins so far include:

Self Directed Learning

My eleven-year-old spent HOURS over summer break figuring out which curricula to use for school, and as a result she is thoroughly committed to her studies. Both she and my five-year-old are currently ahead in school work for the year.

More Time

Children need free time! School consumes so much of our lives. With homeschool, my daughters can get up at 6am and start working right away. If they work hard, they can finish their day’s work by 10am. On other days, they will intersperse play and creative projects with school work, finishing up around 4 or 5pm.

Adorable felt unicorn sewn by an eight-year-old

The free time has had an especially large impact on my eight-year-old. She loves to make things, and now she finally can! She finished this adorable felt pony this month – created using this cute felt pony pattern. Extra clay from her art class became this little clay doll. She’s even designing her own clothes!

My five-year-old also thrives with so much free time for creative projects, from collage-making to fingerprint art.

My eleven-year-old uses her free time to edit the novel she wrote in July, work on her blog (her chocolate banana bread is divine), and work on programming skills for Alexa. She no longer stresses about cello practice eating up her free time, because her time is much more flexible. She’s also willing to tackle harder math problems without the social pressure of having to get it right quickly.


I LOVE the flexibility homeschool affords! We missed the entire first week of school this fall. Our public school was very accommodating about my son being gone, but it was very nice to worry about arranging that absence for only one child. If all of my children were home schooling, we could travel whenever and wherever we liked. Even without the travel component, I love getting things like my daughter’s cello lessons done in the morning rather than in the afternoon or evening.

More Family Time

My kids have always been friends, but homeschool is really bringing my girls together. I love watching them get to know each other better, and seeing how they embark on projects together. Since their brother is home less, they use a lot of their after school time to work with him on projects that he especially cares about.

What We Lose by Homeschooling

Every approach to life comes with trade-offs, and homeschool is no exception. Here are a few advantages public school still holds over homeschool in my opinion.

External Structure

My girls are very good at getting school work done, but some kids do much better with a social learning setting. My son loves the way everyone does the same thing at the same time in public school.

Non-competitive Sports

In Silicon Valley, it’s nearly impossible to find non-competitive sports teams. School gives my sports-loving son the chance to play team sports without having to be good enough to make a competitive team. You can find this as a homeschooler, but you’ll have to do some research – or possibly set it up yourself.

Built-in Social Cohort

The shared experience of an American public school creates a relatively cohesive social cohort. Some kids will love this; others won’t. My son has an amazing group of friends at our public school. So far my daughters are managing to maintain ties to their closest school friends; we’ll see if or how this changes over the course of the school year. With homeschooling, you create your own cohort; we’ll do this over the course of the year.

Someone Sharing Responsibility

I do believe it takes a village to raise a child, and public school teachers and staff work hard to help all of the children in their schools! Homeschool places more of the responsibility on parents to build a village.

Do you send your kids to public school? Home school? A mix, like us? What do you see as the wins or losses, either way? Opinions and advice are always welcome in the comments and on my Facebook page. You can also tag me on Instagram

MaryAnne at Mama Smiles
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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

11 thoughts on “Switching from Public School to Home School and October Goals”

  1. Oh my goodness that pony is soooo cute! I want one!
    Also, where did you find the programming for Alexa, that’s totally up my boy’s alley!

    It’s interesting to hear the pros and cons from someone who has done public school and is now transitioning some kids to homeschool.

    It totally made W’s day to get the comment on her blog, now I have to sit her down and show her how to reply and read other blogs (I’m still working on her remembering to reread and edit her posts before publishing).

  2. Martial Arts classes can be a good noncompetitive sport to try. Even though there are rankings via belts, it’s more of a personal goal versus winning/losing. There are some martial arts like Aikido that don’t have belts or tests.

    Other good ways to get noncompetitive sports is do try sports clinics that serve as introductions to sports. Rock climbing is also a good non-competitive sport. Anything on the water: sailing, kayaking, stand up paddleboard etc are good.

    Yoga is especially great for kids of all ages.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Elisa | blissful E

    This is a wonderful post! I love how proactive you are, turning all the potential negatives into positives. It’s really wonderful that your girls are able to better accomodate Johnny’s preferred activities after he is home from school, now that they have the space to pursue their own passions during the day. From my peek into your Instagram account, your girls are thriving wonderfully. I’d love to hear more about how Emma researched her own curricula.

    1. She started off with Timberdoodle’s Curriculum Kits, listed what she thought we would like best from those, and then we supplemented from there. My sister has been homeschooling for years, and she LOVES researching homeschool curricula, so I talked to her as well. I’ve switched up math for both Emma and Lily and history for Lily since we started, but otherwise Emma’s research has proven quite solid.

  4. That’s so exciting that you decided to try it! I know it’s not for everybody and there are definitely things my kids miss out on by not being in school, but I can’t imagine life any other way. As long as you don’t get carried away with extracurriculars (which I’ve learned the hard way is easy to do), homeschooling can offer your kids so much opportunity to pursue their own passions in a relaxing, supportive, stress-free environment. For those days when you wonder if you’ve lost your mind, I recommend A Gracious Space by Julie Bogart. :)

  5. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    I love how you explained your pros and cons in this post. Your girls also have a built-in cohort in your house :) I agree that schools waste so much time on transitions and classroom management and then load students with homework or catch-up projects. At least our school is not big on homework, so A still has plenty of free time.

    1. The built-in co-hort is a huge benefit – and one thing Johnny would really miss (on a gender specific level) if he started to home school. Our school isn’t terrible with homework in elementary school (although I did hear some horror stories about sixth grade, which Emma started this fall), but it takes up a significant portion of the day, and now my girls can finish their academic work and pursue some of their own interests before their brother even finishes his school day. For Johnny, public school has things right now (a tight knit group of friends and team sports during recess and lunch) that I can’t offer at home, and they are worth the inefficiency of public school.

  6. I love how you are about all of this! I know we have talked about homeschooling at least one of my girls. We shall see what happens.

    Good luck with your journey.

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