The Pros and Cons of Sending My Children to School

My big girls have been back in school for over a month now, and it’s been quite a change to have Ella gone all day and Ani gone half the day.

I keep getting these sweet messages asking how I’m adjusting and overall, I feel really happy with our decision to send the girls to school, and they both seem to enjoy school.

pros and cons of homeschooling

Of course, I don’t think there will ever be a perfect schooling solution. There are just too many good things about both and also not-so-good things that come along with either homeschooling and public school (or charter schools or private schools or online learning). These are some of the pros and cons thus far.

The Pros:

  • No pressure to do school every morning. This is such a relief to me to no longer feel the pressure to spend every morning doing school with Ella or feeling guilt when something came up that cut it short (doctor’s appointments, teaching the co-op preschool, etc).
  • More focused attention on each girl. I love that in the mornings, I can focus more on Ani and Star while Ella’s gone, and that one afternoon a week while Ani is at preschool, Ella has early release and so we get a couple of hours to hang out together while the little girls nap. And when I come home from dropping of Ani, I have a little time to read and sing with Star before she goes down for her nap.
  • More time to get house things done. Once Ella is at school, I have several hours before lunch and afternoon preschool to spend at home with the other girls. A couple of mornings a week, I have a babysitter that comes over to watch the girls while I work, but on the other mornings, I can start dinner, vacuum, do the laundry, or work on other things around the house while Ani and Star play together.
  • Being able to go places without always taking all my children. One of the most challenging things about homeschooling was that I always had all of my children, which meant that any doctor’s appointment through my whole pregnancy I had to take everyone along or if someone was having a birthday lunch or I had a meeting. To be fair, I still usually have at least two and probably three of the girls at any given time, but as every parent knows, one less than your normal amount of children feels like practically nothing.
  • Being able to focus on school with Ani. One of the biggest benefits in my mind of Ella going back to school is being able to focus on Ani’s education a little more. Because it’s preschool, I don’t feel the same pressure I felt with Ella last year to do school EVERY. SINGLE. DAY, but she loves spending 20-30 minutes each morning practicing her reading, doing math problems, and having me read aloud.

The Cons:

  • So much more driving. There were many days last year where I didn’t drive at all. That is NOT the case this year. I drop Ella off, then take Ani to preschool, then pick them both up. Neither school is very far, fortunately, but it’s definitely significantly more driving than I’ve done in the past.
  • Way less time with Ella. It is so strange to have Ella gone so much during the day – I’ve had her so much to myself the last seven years, and I don’t like not having her around nearly as much. Plus, when she gets home in the afternoons, she’s dying to play with her sisters, so they’re often off in the basement the whole afternoon until dinner time. I’m so glad for that early release afternoon where I get to really focus on her for at least an hour or two.
  • Packing lunches. You guys. I do not enjoying packing lunches. It’s not actually the packing I dislike so much, it’s the dealing with washing lunch boxes, getting them emptied out in the afternoon, and then doing the whole thing over again. Every day. For 180 days.
  • Much less flexibility. We have had so much flexibility this past year and a half since we took Ella out of kindergarten. We had no time we had to wake up by and it really was such a laid-back, relaxed time of our lives. Bart and I kept saying, “Let’s not take this for granted!” and I think we did a good job appreciating that period. Now we have bell schedules to deal with (and I live in fear of being late to pick Ani up from preschool because they charge you $2 per minute you’re late) and I can’t arrange my life around nap schedules.
  • Less work time. You’d think I’d have MORE work time with Ella in school all day. But instead of putting the babies down for naps and sending the big girls to their rooms for quiet time for a full two hours and being able to push it forward or backward depending on when the baby wants to sleep, I have just barely two hours between when I get home from dropping Ani off to when I need to leave to pick up Ella, and if the baby doesn’t want to sleep at EXACTLY that time or if Star takes her normal 30-45 minutes to fall asleep, then I don’t have my full two hours (and I might have to wake up small children to go pick up older children).
  • Early wake-up times. And, of course, the main reason I’ve joked that we homeschool – so that I didn’t have to wake my children up. So far, I haven’t had to actually wake Ella up any of the mornings, but in order for Bart and I to both squeeze in a work-out and be ready for the day before one of us takes Ella to school, we definitely have to get up earlier (usually around 6 a.m.).

Have you tried different schooling options with your kids? What have been the pros and cons of each one? I could talk schooling options all day long!

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  1. I currently have a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old at the local public school–which is the ONLY school here–this year. Plus a 2-year-old at home and number four due in a month. The biggest difference between this school and the private school my oldest son attended for his first year is the bus thing. I drove him to his old school, and his brother to preschool, before, which was . . . not fun. I really hated loading everyone up every morning and doing two drop-offs. Especially in the winter. The flip side to the bus is that they have to be ready when it comes, which means that I do have to wake them up at 6:30 every morning and nag them through getting dressed, breakfast, backpacks, etc. So that’s an unpleasant 45 minutes. But then their younger brother and I wave goodbye in the driveway, and that is it. Especially here, in a place with extremely severe winter weather, there is no way I want to be the only transportation option for school.

    On the other hand, the private school had a four-day week, which was GREAT. I do miss that. Like you said, pros and cons.

  2. I have three daughters 7, almost 6, and 3. I have homeschooled since preschool. This is my first year with two doing actual school. My oldest is in 2nd, and my middle daughter had a later birthday that caused us to wait for Kindergarten. She was also SO squirmy last year that I can’t imagine having tried to wrangle her to focus on a school lesson. There are many days when I want to throw in the towel and give up. But, it is something that I feel passionately is right for our family in this season. Who knows what will happen down the road, but for now this is right for us.

  3. I have 5 kids and we just sent 3 of them to school this year from homeschooling. I lbe been wondering if you’d write a post like this because I am still so conflicted every day! I too totally enjoy not taking them everywhere with me, being more on top of things at home, having more time with my 2 littles (who always seemed to get pushed aside during our mornings doing school), and of course not having the pressure of school each day. BUT I miss so many things! Controlling our own schedule, slower mornings, lunches together, reading aloud to them more, having time to pursue learning about their own interests, and I HATE homework. They’re at a school that has lots of homework, which I knew going into it but I liked the curriculum the school offered so we wanted to give it a try Most of all I miss the time with them. I’ve said to my husband probably a million times I wish I could find a half day schedule for all ages! I will always feel like it’s too long of a school day, and then to have to come home with an hour to two of homework takes my kids away from anything else. But after I had number 5 this year I really struggled to do it all. I don’t know what the solution is but it’s on my mind constantly so I appreciated this post!

  4. We seriously considered homeschooling for a lot of the reasons you mentioned missing it (baby naptime, having to do drop off/pick up, etc), but ultimately we decided to try the public schools. I’m still up in the air about how I feel about the school. We have full day kindergarten, and my son still comes home with “optional” homework to do so he can practice for the end of unit math tests. I really really love not having to take all 3 kids everywhere though, so that’s nice.

  5. I haaate packing lunches. Although, my boys are responsible for cleaning out their lunchboxes after school (they’re perfectly capable of rinsing everything and putting tupperware in the dishwasher). But scrounging up stuff for a healthy balanced lunch every day is the worst.

    I also hate the early wake up. I get up at 5:15 to get to the gym before I have to wake up the boys at 6:45 and it’s brutal.

    However! My boys are SO MUCH HAPPIER during the school year. They have structure and time apart from each other. They get to engage with friends and new ideas. Their behavior is so much better as a result and we all get along better. We have considered homeschooling before (when Wes was getting ready for kinder and then when he had his behavior problems last year) but man, I don’t think we’d be happy at all. My kids need school.

  6. At various times, our four adult children have all schooled their children differently. Private, public, home, online. All fourteen grandchildren are thriving, from the senior quarterback to the preschool brothers who got focused mommy time at the zoo this week because their big sisters were in school. (They homeschooled early grades.)

    I would have sheltered our ninth grade granddaughter who has slight cerebal palsy, definitely homeschooling her. Instead, her parents sent her behind her brother to a downtown highschool with 3500 kids. She uses social media to chat with her friends when she isn’t sure which hallway to use to get to P.E. (Give it up, Grandma!)

    I think our clan is proving that any option can work as long as parents stay involved and flexible. The key seems to be knowing what is right for each child and each family in any given season.

    (I could talk about this all day, too.)

  7. We do a university model school, so I feel like we get the best of both worlds. My oldest is at school on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then I homeschool him on Tuesdays and Thursdays with minimal work on Fridays. I love the schedule so much. Right now, we are at the park taking a bit of a break from our homeschool day. It is blissful!

  8. We’ve been homeschooling for the elementary grades for 13 years now. Our kids go to junior high part time in 7th grade and then they can decide whether or not they go full time after that. Our oldest is a senior this year. She decided to go full time in 8th grade. Our second decided to go part time all through junior high but is a sophomore going full time this year. Our third decided to go full time this year as well for 8th grade. The rest of them are home with me and it is awesome have our four youngest home. This year feels a lot like homeschooling felt when the oldest kids were young. I have loved how this plan has worked out for us for many reasons. I love the relationships they develop. I love being able to see immediately what they are struggling with and tweaking our learning to accommodate that. I love that we can go on field trips during the day. I love that we can take time off school whenever we want. Starting with some classes in junior high makes for an easy transition. I usually have them take 2 core classes like Math and English and then 2 electives. We set up their schedules so that they could ride the bus to school and I only had to pick them up. Perhaps the only downside to this for us has been that when the older kids enrolled in public school we lost our freedom to take vacations whenever we wanted.

  9. Amen to not having to wake kids up with homeschooling. Best perk ever. When we move to Utah Em will be in 1/2 day preschool in the morning and Jay has 1/2 day kindergarten in the afternoon… so I’ll be doing 3-4 round trips back and forth to the school everyday and I’m already slightly dreading it. Luckily the drive is only .9miles.

  10. Controlling the schedule – which months you are in school and the times each day are the HUGE appeal of homeschooling to me. I was homeschooled myself for 5 years in grade school and LOVED it but my Mom was also a licensed teacher and was very good at it. I do not think I could do lesson plans like she did! So I’m homeschooling preschool this year and then our son will go to private school starting with kindergarten next year. I SO dread the schedule thing but also know it’s probably the best thing for my own sanity. (We also haven’t started preschool yet and it’s mid-September…obviously super on top of things over here.) Plus side, school is less than a mile from our house. That makes the commute slightly easier to take.

  11. Interesting! I’m a brand new mom of a kindergartner and I’m loving more one on one time with my 3 kids, and have also found that I can stay more on top of house stuff and dinner prep when I’m down a child for 3.5 hours a day! You covered a lot of the pros and cons for you as the Mom….I’m curious how your daughters are handling it all? My 5 year old is acting a lot more mature after being around kids her age all day instead of just younger siblings. She’s also a bit more responsible, probably from having to listen to another adult besides me all day? . However, I’ve also noticed more fighting with her brother in the afternoon, like she’s picking on him. I haven’t had to wake her up, she started waking up EARLIER all on her own once summer ended and it’s making for a pretty tiring witching hour at our house for all 3 kids! Another pro has been better appetites and less nagging to eat at meals….the kids eat breakfast earlier, come home from school super hungry for lunch and eats a great dinner. Anyway…perhaps you could write a follow up post about pros and cons from home school or regular school as it affects kids?? I’d be curious to hear your family’s perspective.

  12. I’d be really interested to hear your honest thoughts about the pros and cons for your kids. I feel like I have a pretty good idea of how changing to public schooling would affect my life, but I’m curious as to how it would impact on the children from both the positives and negatives (I’m sure there would be both).

  13. As a public school teacher with a son of my own [and one on the way!], I go back and forth on wanting to homeschool and not wanting to. Mine is mostly based off curriculum and instruction rather than the day-to-day impact on our family. It will all depend on how the school’s near us function when my son goes but I know we will be doing a bit of “afterschooling” and summer school as a family just because there are a few key things I don’t agree with in terms of the state standards that won’t change no matter where he goes. Mostly history – the elementary standards lack much of ANY world history so my plan is to supplement at home. Right now, the schools use a reading approach that I think is developmentally appropriate but I know the pendulum swings quickly on reading instruction so that will be another factor which will come in to play when my son is ready for school. But I think it’s EXACTLY what Kathey Nickerson said in her comment – either option work as long as the parents are involved and flexible. This is why I love your blog! I have gotten so many ideas about education just by following you that I never got with my education degree. I hope the school year goes well for you all!

  14. I don’t have any kids in school yet (3 yo and 1 yo). I decided not to enroll my 3 y.o. in preschool this year because I just love having my kids home with me and being in complete control of our schedule. I am dreading school starting in a few years, but when I went to pick my niece up from school a couple weeks ago, I remembered how much I love the energy of a school and all the fun things that would be hard to provide in homeschooling (class plays, book fairs, etc.). That made me excited for those days and I’m just trying to focus on the good of each stage. One thing I really wish that schools would look into is shortened days and no/less homework policies. I know the longer days work for a lot of parents, but there are so many moms in my neighborhood who feel that school is just too long and that homework each evening just adds stress to home life (although I am very much in favor of home reading requirements like 30 minutes a day). Anyway, it seems like schools are exploring lots of more options these days and I wonder if eventually they will offer certain schools that have shorter days. I guess I can hope!

    1. I so agree about the shorter days. Our school day is 7 hours here, and that just seems REALLY long for those little kids. I would absolutely opt for a 4-5 hour day instead if that was an option.

  15. I could talk about this all day too. I think a previous commenter hit the nail on the proverbial head when she said either option will work as long as parents are involved and flexible. Amen and amen.

    Having homeschooled one of my kids, and trying both public and charter schools, I feel like we’ve really seen the spectrum. By far the easiest was homeschooling. By farrrrrr. Setting up your own schedule and allowing flexibility and freedom … oh the joy. He’s back in school this year and it didn’t take long for me to remember how much I ABSOLUTELY LOATHE BOOK REPORTS, SCIENCE FAIRS, READING LOGS, ETC, ETC, not to mention just curriculum annoyances overall. I am responsible for my children’s education, and I enlist teachers to help. It is my job to fill in the gaps and supplement weaker areas – but on less time, if they’re in school. I told my husband just the other day that in reality, I homeschool all my children – but I have to do it around the school schedule. And scouts. And piano. And soccer. And a zillion other things. Oh, and don’t forget to teach them how to be a responsible human being (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.) and allow them to be kids too.


    But when it boils down to it, we feel strongly that they should be in school. It would be vastly easier to keep them all home, but I know that’s not what my kids need right now. I would be doing it for selfish reasons. We are a religious family that relies strongly on prayer, and there is no doubt in my mind that where they need to be is school.

    I pray the answer will change someday, but in the meantime I’m content!

  16. I made the same decision to send big kids to school and my twin girls are in preschool (M-F 8-12). It’s so different having the mornings to myself. I was really struggling last year having my kids with me constantly. I think my kids enjoy more social time. I do miss the slow paced afternoon, but I actually enjoy having a reason to get the kids going in the morning. At both our schools, there is no option to bringing your own food without a doctor’s note. The kids are adjusting to this hot lunch everyday, but I love the no packed lunches:)

    There will never be a perfect school option so enjoy what we choose and hope for the best!

  17. I really appreciate this! We’re considering putting Jonah in public school next year for the first time (5th grade), and I’m a little nervous about it. We’ve loved homeschooling! Whether or not we make that change next year, I am trying to make this year extra special in case it’s our last year with total flexibility.

  18. I’m convinced it’s a juggling act for nearly everyone, working parents or not, public school or not, multiple children or solo, etc. I appreciate your point about waking up early for school. It’s one of the toughest parts for me (I’m a night owl) — but what can you do? It’s part of the deal of going to public school. We had a busy year last year with months of taking kids to two schools for the first time in forever. So, this summer, we balanced it out by taking it way easy when we were home . I’m a working mom but fortunate to work from home so we could sleep in a little longer and take our time. It was awesome. When school rolled around again in August, it definitely felt like my kids were rested and ready to go back to their routine.

  19. Pros of back to school – The big kid is gone all day, so I have more time to focus on the younger three. It is always easier to go places with one fewer kid. I have found that with the oldest son gone all day, the second one is interacting with his younger sister a lot more, and they are beginning to have more of a relationship. Felix goes to preschool three afternoons per week, and I have that blessed time of silence while he is gone and the girls nap.

    Cons of back to school – Making lunches (although Eric actually does that). I actually miss my oldest kid sometimes, which surprises me. Homework, although this year there isn’t much at all. My biggest con of back-to-school is that my husband leaves too!

  20. If the school day was shorter and homework did not exist, my kids would be in public school.

    As of now, my 7 year old attends a shortened school day once a week with other homeschoolers (offered through the public school) and it’s nearly perfect. I love having a day off, that I don’t have to provide instruction and we have plenty of time during the rest of the week for our own studies and extra things like art class and tumbling that I wouldn’t let her do if she was in PS because I wouldn’t want to lengthen her day even more.

  21. I really appreciate that you mentioned that you can get more time to get things done around the house because I feel like that is something that I am lacking. My baby girl is finally getting old enough so I am considering finding a good preschool to send her to, and I am looking at my options. Thanks for this blog post, I loved learning about your experience and hopefully, it will be a good experience for me, too.

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