Comparing my homeschool and public school experiences

Comparing my homeschool and public school experiences

Sleeping in, sitting on the couch, snacking all day . . . homeschooling can sound inviting, but homeschooling isn’t all what it seems. People’s homeschooling experiences are different; some are more relaxed and others are more rigorous.  Students at Pella had a taste of homeschooling during last spring when everything went virtual; however, I had a unique experience because I was homeschooled through my junior year, coming to PHS for my senior year only. 

Even though it’s all school, homeschool and public school are different in several ways.  Not only do homeschoolers stay at home, but they also have to be internally motivated to actually start the school day.   When I did school at home–especially in high school–no one was telling me when to start each subject, so I had to figure that out for myself.  Starting in 8th grade, I took between one and three classes each year through HSLDA Online Academy.  The classes were structured so that we would meet online for one live session at the beginning of each week for an hour and a half.  The rest of the week, I worked on homework which was due for these classes Saturdays at 11 pm.  Online, I took mostly English and foreign language classes, so I also had to work on science and math on my own. 

For math, I watched a DVD lesson and completed problem sets; for science, I went through a textbook that had a daily schedule with reading and experiments for each chapter. The hardest part about being homeschooled for me was having to manage my time and get all the work done.   It took me until my junior year to become self-disciplined and figure out how to complete a sufficient amount of work for each subject every day.  Then, when I came to PHS this year, I found it easier: I just had to follow the bells and go to my next class until the day was over.  I found public school easy compared to my homeschool experience because classes were every day, and teachers assigned homework usually day by day.  This way, I didn’t have to worry as much about planning my strategy for doing homework for the week. 

My homeschool and public school experiences have been different; however, I liked aspects of each.  Even though it is helpful that the school sets a schedule for everyone, I liked homeschool because I could structure my time by deciding which subject to do first as well as how much time to spend on each subject. Along the same lines, I enjoyed being able to pace my homework throughout the week.  I’m a planner, so it’s fun for me to receive a list of work to do and figure out how to accomplish it by the end of the week.  The only hard part was sticking to this plan sometimes.  

Another thing I appreciated about homeschool is that my work time was more efficient since I didn’t have to spend time driving to school or walking between classes.  But at the same time, I have liked walking between classes at PHS because then I’m not sitting all day.  Also, when everyone is walking from class to class at the same time, it brings a sense of solidarity that I didn’t have in homeschool; there are so many people who are going through the same classes and who are also tired. 

I like being at PHS also because the lunch is timed.  I know it might sound strange, but sometimes the perks of homeschool can become the downsides as well.  At home, it was great to eat lunch whenever and to eat what I wanted, but too many times the lunch break extended out to two hours if I got distracted, and it was difficult to get back to work.  So I’ve appreciated having a set time for lunch.  

A final thing I have liked about attending PHS is getting to know teachers and other students personally.  When I took online classes, I got to know people over the chat in live classes, in online discussion board posts, and in emails, but it is different being in person, actually being in the environment of other people and talking face-to-face. And it’s much better talking to people in live groups instead of dealing with technology issues in breakout groups online.

Overall, I would say that my experience at PHS has been more exciting because there are more activities and personal interactions, compared to focusing only on getting the work done, as I did in homeschool. I’m glad I had the opportunity to come to PHS and experience public high school, but I enjoyed my homeschool experience, and I think the structure prepared me for college by forcing me to develop time management skills.  

Homeschooling is not for everyone, and the definition of “homeschool” can vary greatly; however, based on my personality, I feel that homeschooling was best for me because I like being alone and working by myself to accomplish a goal. I’m thankful that I have been able to experience both home and public school because they both have provided me with different skills that I will use in the future.