There are three options for educating children in the U.S. - public school, private school, and home school. All have their pros and cons.
*Public school is paid for by taxes and is free for the most part, though there could be some fees, especially in high school.
+Private school is varying degrees of expensive, and you also have to pay for the consumable workbooks and possibly text purchase or rental fees.
=Home school costs as much as you want it to. There is usually a large start-up costs for textbooks, workbooks, and supplies that would normally be provided by the school, but you may be able to recoup some of the money by reselling your textbooks.
*+Public and private school will have fees for extracurriculars (band, sports, field trips), though there may be funding from the school or fundraisers to help offset that cost.
=Homeschool extracurriculars are paid for entirely out-of-pocket. Homeschool groups may qualify for group discount rates for field trips.
*Public schools have requirements set by the country, state, county, and local school board.
+Private schools each set their own education requirements, though there may be some state or local influence.
=Each state has its own laws for homeschool requirements, but it is an option for any family in any state. Some states require certain concepts be taught in certain grades, and some states require that you disclose your chosen curriculum.
*Public school classrooms are typically quite large, with one teacher trying to meet the needs of 20 or more students. Our county has an ideal maximum of 22 students per class, but there are often more than that.
+Private schools typically have a smaller ideal class size, giving each student more personalized attention. They accomplish this by capping enrollment or hiring more teachers to lower the student-to-teacher ratio.
=Homeschool class size is only dependent on the number of children you choose to educate at home. You already know your own child's needs intimately, so you are able to challenge them and focus on things with them as they personally need.
*Public schools are required to take whomever they get and provide each child an equal education. (This is hard to do, no matter what school option you choose!) Children learn to play and work with other children from varying backgrounds, religions, and races.
+Private schools are allowed to be choosy about whom they accept as students, so children may not be exposed to as much diversity, but you know that they are around other families whose beliefs are similar to your own while they are young and impressionable.
=Homeschoolers obviously get the "short end of the stick" when it comes to socializing with a group of like-aged children, but in my experience, homeschooled children often have a much more diverse group of friends because their families make a point to socialize with many other families.
One thing to note is that there are also cottage schools or homeschool co-op groups in many places, which provide an option in between private and home schooling. Students meet together at least one day a week for group classes, which may be core classes (Reading, Writing, Science) or elective classes (Karate, Astronomy, Cooking, Music). These provide the students with an opportunity to learn together with other children in a classroom setting and expose the students to teaching methods other than your own, which will benefit them in the long run. Most of these utilize the parents as teachers, assistant teachers, and administrators, to keep costs down. Some of the higher grades may bring in professionals for things like advanced math classes, at a higher cost.
We may consider a one-day-a-week parent-led co-op for the Spring 2015 semester, but registration is already full for Fall 2014.
We chose to home school this school year because it is the best fit for our family right now. It will be the best way to meet Dino's needs today. We will see how it goes, and decide next year whether to continue homeschooling or make a change.
Check out all of my homeschooling posts!