It's an election year and that will likely mean a lot of talk about the American education system. Politicians will surely talk about the fact that America's schools are only ranked "average" compared to the rest of the world, and that includes ranking No. 35in math and No. 29in science. For parents making key choices about the future of their children, these statistics don't make public schools look attractive, but is homeschooling a better option? Private schools may cost more than a family can afford, and homeschooling requires a parent that doesn't work. If you're looking for the best way to educate your child, and one parent can stay at home, should you consider homeschooling?

SEE: Public Schools Get Creative With Their Budgets

Public School
Public schools, despite all of their bad press, are still the most popular way to educate a child. Like most services consumers deal with in their daily lives, there are outstanding public schools and those that receive a failing grade. Students attend school for the primary purpose of learning and that's what any school should be judged on most heavily. Looking at the average performance of the nation's public schools, they don't appear to be providing an A+ service, but comparing a public school to the other options isn't entirely fair.

Public schools are charged with educating all students and may have class sizes of 25 or more students. Homeschooling is only as high as the school age children in the home, but that doesn't mean that public schools are in desperate need of help. Even those who believe strongly in public schools concede that a lot of work remains to bring America's schools up to levels that will allow the schools to compete on the international stage.

However, public schools offer more than academics. Homeschooling doesn't offer the same opportunities in the arts, athletics and other activities that students get in public schools. A study in Chicago found that students who participate in the arts achieved higher test scores than those who did not. Although these types of classes and activities are offered in the private and homeschooling environments, they aren't offered at the same level of many public schools.

SEE: Pay For College Without Selling A Kidney

There's no doubt that research speaks very kindly of homeschooling. Not only is it cheap compared to other education options, but the results are generally better. Most parents who homeschool spend less than $600 per year compared to the $10,000 average spent per pupil by public school systems. However, parents who homeschool are still paying a portion of that $10,000 expense. Surprisingly, spending such a low amount on a child's education produces impressive results. One study found that the average homeschooled student outperformed the average public school student by roughly 30 percentile points.

SEE: Should Your College Kid Live At Home?

The largest drawback mentioned by opponents of homeschooling is that kids are lacking in socialization once they enter college, but studies have found that in all markers of social and psychological health homeschoolers are no less socialized than other children. Just like public schools, the quality of the homeschooling experience depends on the drive and motivation of the teacher. It takes a disciplined, motivated and intelligent person to homeschool his or her child.

SEE: 6 Alternatives To Going To College

The Bottom Line
Just as private schools require money, homeschooling requires a family that can invest the amount of time needed to homeschool effectively. For those families with a parent that doesn't work, studies appear to indicate that homeschooling produces impressive results when compared to public schools. However, public schools might be more appropriate for children who want to take more advanced coursework or for those who are gifted in athletics or the arts.

Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Top Universities for Getting an MBA Abroad

    Going abroad for an MBA can add cachet when it comes time to get a job.
  2. Credit & Loans

    10 Ways Student Debt Can Destroy Your Life

    If you're getting a student loan, think critically about how you will manage your loan. Student debt could have a profound negative impact on your life.
  3. Investing

    Why to Buy Term Life Insurance with a Conversion Option

    Why you should always purchase a term life insurance policy that allows for an unrestricted conversion option.
  4. Budgeting

    Top 10 Ways College Students Can Save Money

    College costs are soaring, but fortunately, there are several ways for college students to save money - and some are quite painless.
  5. Personal Finance

    8 Ways to Find Cheap Textbooks

    Textbooks are so expensive. What are the tricks to find cheaper books?
  6. Credit & Loans

    Why Ignoring Your 529 Plan Could Cost You Big

    Saving for your kids' college tuition can be difficult. Here's how a 529 plan can help and how you, too, can help your 529 plan.
  7. Professionals

    The Pitfalls of PLUS College Loans

    Here's how parents can avoid the pitfalls of PLUS Loans when it comes to funding their children's college education.
  8. Professionals

    Getting a College Student to Love ... Investing?

    College students have a big advantage over many other investors: time. Here's how to get them interested in investing.
  9. Budgeting

    How to Use an Allowance to Teach Your Kids About Money

    On the fence about whether or not you should give your kids an allowance? An allowance is the perfect way to introduce your kids to financial lessons.
  10. Personal Finance

    How To Get That Entry-Level Financial Analyst Job

    Landing a job as a financial analyst takes study, strategy and a lot of hard work. Here's how to hone your competitive edge.
  1. Student loans, federal and private: what's the difference?

    The cost of a college education now rivals many home prices, making student loans a huge debt that many young people face ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How does accrued interest work on student loans?

    Using private and federal student loans to finance a college education is a common funding strategy, but students are often ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What advice has Tim Cook given to would-be business leaders?

    Billionaire tech tycoon Tim Cook appeared at an event to discuss leadership with the would-be business leaders of Duke University's ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Where did the term Magna Cum Laude originate from and why is it used in academics?

    The Latin phrase magna cum laude translates to "with great praise." Literally, "magna" translates to "great," "cum" to "with" ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What's the difference between microeconomics and macroeconomics?

    Microeconomics is generally the study of individuals and business decisions, macroeconomics looks at higher up country and ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How does someone earn the designation Magna Cum Laude?

    The term "magna cum laude" is an academic designation awarded to graduates of an educational institution who have maintained ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  2. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  3. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  4. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  5. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  6. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!