Homeschool vs Private School: One Mom’s Decision Journey

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If you ever want to feel like a millionaire then I have a psychological experiment for you.

Go ahead and start researching and browsing private schools, gather all the beautiful packets of marketing literature with smiling kids holding hands, collect all the pens and notebooks they hand out to visitors and make sure you read up on all the tuition and fees.

Then decide you are going to stick with homeschooling and regain all that money you spent on tuition in your mind.

See? Told you so!

This exercise was actually a reality for our family this past month.

We went through all the rigamarole of “So you want to put your child in private school…” and came out more gung-ho than ever on sticking with homeschool.

Homeschool vs Private School: One Mom's Decision Journey

What Led Us on the Hunt of Private School

We went on a school hunt after we had spoken with a pediatrician who recommended we consider private schooling for our oldest who is, how do I put this, an advanced learner of sorts. I struggle to share this because I’ve received negative pushback from people.

It was nice to have a doctor point out that our child could go far in a private school setting, even getting scholarships.

Private school scholarships you do say?

(I have learned that “scholarships” is an idol word trigger for me and many other parents out there. BEWARE of the power this word holds! Some parents will do anything to attain these!)

Knowing our kid loves to learn A LOT and upon hearing this idea from an outside source, a pediatrician no less, we began to consider this idea of private schooling in depth.

We especially liked how it might help with the huge stress of dealing with a sibling with Reactive Attachment Disorder.


Which Do We Tackle First: Private School or Special Needs?

Because when you have a sixth-grader reading a textbook in a day that was supposed to last a semester, and a child who, bless her heart, is struggling and acting out in every way from an traumatic adoptive background- WHICH ONE DO YOU HELP FIRST (or< which snack do you just go eat in your prayer closet as a mom on the edge)!??!

You want to continue the love of learning for your middle schooler and not squelch it by teaching her below her abilities because you are limited by helping your youngest.

You want to help your little one process her world and feel safe.

You also want to remember to not go coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.

It’s a whole heaping lot for this chick to keep up with.

I watered a fake plant for a whole year in college mind you. So, there’s that…

(I’m just telling you what I am working with.)

For Us, What Was the Difference Between Homeschool and Private School?

We Searched SO Hard for the Perfect Private School

The search for the perfect private school was nothing short of a tale from The Odyssey.

We met lots of very respectable, kind, and great salespeople that function as the school’s representative or admissions person. I liked them all, every time. The classes, teachers, “maker space areas”, grounds, student ambassadors, uniforms, traditions–all were very endearing.

At every school tour, my girl would ask straight-faced: “Do you have a microwave?”


(We bring the class, what can I say?)

Is homeschooling cheaper than private school?

We could not afford one of those private schools. Not one. And, I have no shame in admitting that. Not many can afford the cost of private school, and so they offer financial aid. But typically only up to half of the tuition cost, we discovered.

Maybe I forgot to mention, we prayed. We prayed our faces off.

I mean, I almost turned into a Benedictine Monk from all the praying.


If I put my youngest in preschool next year, then I could have time to teach/help my oldest (she really teaches me and that’s not fair to her).

But then we certainly couldn’t afford private school.

Public school is not an option. Been there, done that, and not going back for her. Nuh-uh.

If I put my oldest in private school, then bye bye preschool funds.

And, school after school just left us feeling very heavy hearted. Reading all the great school reviews and reviews got so laborious.

Questions For Deciding Homeschooling vs. Private School

If there is one thing I excel at, it’s asking questions. We came up with about 7-9 points of consideration that were important to us in our search:

• Heavy, hands-on science/STEAM based lessons (Science Fair is a must!).

• Invested teachers who don’t mind dealing with an advanced learner. (If you have a student reading above college in 2nd grade you don’t tell them to just go read a book but also tell them they can’t check certain books out! I’m still not over this from public school, can you tell?)

• Emphasis on teaching communication skills (i.e. opportunities for students to learn to present their ideas and themselves).

• Project based learning, thus teaching research, time management, and creativity.

• Servant leadership emphasis.

• Like-minded kids.

• A microwave.

Okay, this is making us sound a little unrealistic, but this is what we want for our kid to meet her needs and challenge her so she learns to PUSH herself. You can get very comfortable with these abilities and then when it DOES get hard, you are in for some trouble. (Hello, college, if that is God’s plan!)

For Us, What Was the Difference Between Homeschool and Private School?

Y’all, the answer was not to be found at any of the schools we visited.

Not for what we could pay.

Not for how far we can drive.

And not with the absolute best friends you can ask for your child, which God has already surrounded her with. Friends that don’t care if she uses crazy big words or if she suddenly turns into a dancing gazelle during lunch.

God said no.

He said that through our commitment to staying debt free, through my inability to drive on dark mornings (10 eye surgeries baby!), and through His gift of her (and my) beloved buddy system we got going through our Classical Conversations Community. And, through the heaviness. There was not any peace.

Oh sure there was a tingle of excitement at the possibility of her being a student at such and such prestigious institution, USA, but that is not to be confused with peace.

If you are considering new things in your life.

Can you afford it? Financially and spiritually? If not on either, then it’s a no.

Look at what God has already said “Yes” to . . .

For us, He has said yes to homeschooling for our family. He has made it abundantly clear. Because we, maybe not perfectly, already have all those things I listed. We are aiming for all of that and then some.

I know it’s the big leagues coming up with 7th grade and then high school and then SAT/ACT and all that, but with the Lord on our side, we have the BEST guidance counselor. If He wants her to change, then He will direct her steps.

Preschool will be great for my youngest. And I am thankful for the time I have now to help her at home and I am trusting God to help us make it through the rest of sixth grade for our oldest with our heads held high.

Now knowing what else is out there, I see that she is doing so much to engage her brain. So the tours were actually beneficial in giving us a “You’re doing just fine” shoulder pat.

We are thanking God for His gentle leadership and are looking forward to His syllabus for 2018-2019!


Gillian homeschools her two daughters and focuses on the funny in life through imperfection over at her family’s blog:

Grateful for Jesus and deodorant, she loves talking to anyone about the correct meat to cheese ratio in tacos.

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