Homeschool vs Public School: How to Make the Right Choice for Your Child in 2024

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As parents, we all want the best for our children, especially when it comes to their education.

But choosing the right educational path can feel overwhelming. With so many options available, it’s tough to know which one will suit your child best.

The choice you make can influence not only your child’s academic growth but also their social interactions and personal development.

It’s a significant decision, no doubt.

But don’t worry—we’re here to explore the ins and outs of two common options: homeschooling and public school. Plus, we’ll introduce you to an incredible third option: microschools!

By the end of this blog, you’ll have all the information you need to make a well-informed decision about your child’s education.

Let’s dive in.

Homeschools vs. public schools: what’s the difference? 

First, let's define what we mean by "homeschool" and "public school."

When we talk about public schools, we're mainly referring to how schools are funded. Public schools are run by the state education department and financed with tax dollars—some from state taxes, some from federal taxes. This funding means your local public school must follow the regulations set by your state’s education department and any federal laws tied to those funds.

These rules include not teaching religious curriculum, participating in standardized testing, and making sure students learn certain standardized content at specific grade levels. These standards are in place to ensure every child receives a quality education as defined by the government.

School districts draw boundary lines that determine which neighborhoods go to which schools. Unless your state has an “open enrollment” policy, your kids will attend the public school assigned to your area.

On the other hand, homeschooling is just what it sounds like—educating your children at home. Parents or tutors teach the children instead of sending them to a state-run school.

Homeschooling is usually funded by the parents. However, some states offer programs that provide state funds for homeschooling families to use for their child’s education!

Statistics of homeschooling vs. public schooling

According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), homeschooling has surged from nearly nonexistent in the U.S. in the 1970s to over 3 million school-age students today.

And the growth isn’t slowing down! Homeschooling has been increasing at an estimated rate of 2% to 8% per year.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to an initial surge in homeschooling as families sought alternatives to ensure their children's education continued amidst school closures. 

This trend was further fueled by dissatisfaction with traditional education and concerns about health and safety. 

Source: The Washington Post

As the pandemic continues to shape the educational landscape, homeschooling remains a viable option for many families, with parents increasingly recognizing its benefits.

Let's dive into some other stats.

Test score statistics

According to NHERI, homeschooled students typically score 15 to 25 percentile points higher than public school students on standardized academic achievement tests. On average, when homeschooled kids take the same standardized tests public school students take, they score higher than about 75% percent of all the kids taking the test.

Homeschooled students score above average on these tests regardless of their parents' level of formal education or household income, which is typically one of the main predictors of success for public school kids. 

Interestingly, whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers doesn’t significantly affect their children’s academic achievement.

College admission statistics

According to NHERI, home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges use for admissions.

Colleges are also actively recruiting homeschool students. Their applications often stand out by showcasing their unique educational experiences and self-motivated learning.

Salary statistics

Research on adults who were homeschooled is expanding.

What we do know is that 69% of peer-reviewed studies on success into adulthood (including college) show that adults who were home-educated perform significantly better than those who attended traditional schools.

According to NHERI, we also know:

  • Homeschooled students participate in local community service more frequently than the general population.
  • Adults who were homeschooled as children vote and attend public meetings more often than the general population.
  • They attend and succeed in college at an equal or higher rate than the general population.
  • By adulthood, they internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a high rate.

Wellness and mental health statistics

Research suggests homeschooled students may exhibit better psychological well-being thanks to personalized attention and reduced exposure to bullying and peer pressure.

According to NHERI, homeschooling research shows that home-educated students typically excel in social, emotional, and psychological development. These measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.

Additionally, current research indicates that homeschooled students may experience less harm (e.g., abuse, neglect, fatalities) compared to conventional school students.

Advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling 

So, what are the pros and cons of homeschooling? Let’s break it down. 


  • Individualized Learning: Homeschooling lets you create a personalized education plan tailored to your child’s unique needs and interests.
  • Flexibility: You can design an academic calendar that fits your family’s lifestyle and make the most of learning opportunities outside the traditional school schedule.
  • More family time: Spending more time together can strengthen family bonds and create a supportive learning environment.
  • Adaptable educational system: You can adjust teaching methods and materials to match your child’s learning style, making education more effective and engaging.
  • Real socialization: Homeschooled kids learn to think for themselves and interact with adults and their community rather than just sitting still and listening.


  • Significant time and effort required from parents: Homeschooling requires a significant commitment from parents, both in terms of time and educational planning. It’s important to ensure homeschooling your children doesn’t lead to burnout for you. 
  • Potential gaps in social skills development: Without the built-in social environment of public schools, parents need to be more intentional about creating social opportunities for their kids. Challenges in providing a broad range of educational experiences: It can be challenging to cover all subjects thoroughly, especially those requiring specialized knowledge or equipment.
  • Lack of support and community: You won’t have the automatic built-in community that comes with attending the same school as other families.
  • Cost: Homeschooling can be expensive. You’ll need to consider the financial implications of taking on your child’s education. (But some states now offer programs to help you fund your child’s education at home)
  • Affects parent-child relationships: While homeschooling can strengthen parent-child bonds, it can also create tension. 

Advantages and disadvantages of public schools 

Now, let’s talk about the pros and cons of public schools.


  • Access to a wide range of resources and extracurricular activities: Public schools often provide extensive resources, including libraries, laboratories, sports facilities, and a variety of clubs and activities.
  • Professional instruction from certified educators: Public school teachers are professionally trained and certified, offering expertise in various subject areas.
  • Exposure to a diverse student body: Students can interact with peers from different backgrounds, fostering a broader worldview and enhanced social skills.


  • Less individualized attention: With larger class sizes, teachers may struggle to provide personalized attention to each student.
  • Potential for a less adaptable learning environment: Public schools must adhere to state standards and curriculums, which may not accommodate individual learning styles as effectively.
  • Exposure to standardized tests and common core curriculum: While ensuring a consistent educational standard, these requirements may not suit all students’ learning preferences.
  • Less family time: When students spend so much time away from parents and family, relationships can become stressed and disconnected.

What are some alternatives to homeschool and public schools? 

There are several alternatives to homeschooling and public school! Let's explore a few options.

Homeschool coops

Homeschool co-ops combine resources among multiple homeschooling families to offer group learning experiences. Parents share teaching responsibilities, providing social interaction and access to specialized subjects.

Private schools

Private schools operate independently of the public education system. They don’t accept public funds and aren’t bound by the regulations that come with public funding. Families usually need to apply and be accepted. These schools have full control over their curriculum and teaching methods. Private school students aren’t required to take state standardized tests, and while they don’t have to provide special education services, many choose to do so. In some states, private schools must be “accredited,” meaning a trusted third-party evaluator has reviewed and approved their learning approach and management procedures.

Charter schools

Charter schools are part of the public education system, funded by taxpayer dollars, and held to the same standards and regulations as public schools, including special education services. However, they aren’t restricted to specific areas within a district. Anyone can apply, and the school must accept all applicants unless it’s at capacity. Charter schools operate independently from the school district, with more flexibility in how they run. They often choose a specific focus, like performing arts, STEM, or leadership, giving the school a unique culture. Be sure to check what services and supports are available, as charter schools might receive less funding for transportation, meals, and special education.


Microschools are tight-knit groups of about 10 kids learning together under the direction of a microschool “guide.” They vary in learning approach and format but are typically personalized and focused on fostering a sense of self-efficacy. Prenda is one of the largest microschool networks in the country and can help you bring a microschool into your community. 

If you want more information about how to find a microschool or, better yet—how to start your own microschool, check out our Microschooling 101 video

How can microschools provide the benefits of homeschools without the drawbacks? 

Microschools are the sweet spot between homeschooling and a traditional brick-and-mortar school. Your kids still “go to school,” but it’s usually for fewer hours and fewer days than conventional school. This means you get to spend more time with your kids, and they enjoy a healthier school-life balance.

The microschool model blends the benefits of traditional schooling—like social interaction and shared resources—with the personalized approach of homeschooling.

Like homeschooling, you have a big say in what and how your kids learn. You can help choose their curriculum and set personal academic goals with your child and their guide. It’s a great balance of responsibility and support. Microschool parents feel involved, heard, and in control without feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.

To see if there are any microschools in your area, visit If there aren’t any microschools in your area, don’t worry—it’s easy to start one! 

So, how do you know if microschooling is right for your child?

Well, microschooling may be the right option for you if you want:

  • a small, personalized learning environment;
  • greater flexibility in curriculum choice;
  • the opportunity for your kids to learn at their own pace;
  • your kids to love learning again!

And Prenda microschools have even more benefits, such as access to 24/7 math tutoring, a dedicated academic coach, and typically about 20 hours of class time per week. 

So, if you’re a parent looking to find a microschool for your child near you, go here.  

If you can’t find a microschool near you, become a guide yourself! We make it so easy! Go here for an amazing course that will walk you through everything you need to know. 

Prenda’s microschool management system and learning approach are intentionally designed to help you run a microschool whether you have education experience or not.

Starting a microschool truly is an amazing experience. 

And don’t just take it from us.

Take it from Heather: 

"I went to a Prenda info session and loved everything I heard but was unsure about leaving my job and pulling my kids from public school. I was nervous that I didn't have what it took to teach, and leaving the only system I knew seemed scary and crazy. We made the jump, and I started a microschool with my own two children and four additional learners. My students love coming to school every day so much that going home is the most challenging transition... I find that my life has slowed down to a pace where I can be present and enjoy every moment. Thank you to Prenda for offering this life-changing experience." 

—Heather, Prenda guide

If you are curious about starting your own microschool, take our FREE 30-minute course: The Beginner's Guide to Microschooling.‍ Or, if you’re ready to jump right in, Create a Prenda World account today and start designing your future microschool. 

Whether you become a guide, find a microschool near you, or just jumpstart your journey towards more joy and peace at home (by checking out our awesome content designed to help you help kids unlock their motivation, hold on to their love of learning, and live powerful, purposeful lives), we’re excited to have you join us on our mission of empowering learners.

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