Homeschool or online school at home?

As I sort through the many very cool choices that are available to homeschoolers, I struggle with one basic question: do I stick with the online school at home format or let go of my security blanket and dive right into a free for all homeschool curriculum?

I sat with my coffee this morning before the kids were up and found so many fun and engaging things they could do – but we are enrolled in an online public school and it really takes up a lot of their time and energy for structured learning.

I love the online public school for many reasons. I love having the teacher and other resources available. I love that, if I change my mind about homeschooling it would be really easy to put them into a regular school – they are already in one for all intents and purposes. I crave the assessments – knowing I’m not slowing my kids down by homeschooling them lets me sleep at night. The online public school is also easy to explain to non-homeschoolers; “we are schooling at home, just until we find what works for them.”

But all the wonderful unschooling and homeschooling options are so enticing. I signed them up for a Lego course, then I found, and yesterday I was perusing Coursera. Not to mention when they just ‘play’. The other day they made up a new game out of a board game we have, sometimes they invent spells to cast on one another, they build forts, create worlds in Lego, research cool stuff online, make amazing art out of poster boards, clay and toilet rolls. Last week they baked a loaf of chocolate zucchini bread ALL BY THEMSELVES.

Its so hard to know what to do. If we unschool or do our own homeschool curriculum will I miss something critical to their future? Will I at some point, for some currently unknown reason, have a need to put them into a regular school, and will they be at a serious disadvantage because of what we have chosen? Will they be denied the future they choose because they can’t test well?

Sigh. I guess until I can come to terms with the answers to those questions we will continue to do our best to walk the line between homeschooling/unschooling and school at home. In my book Modern Homeschooling I discuss the different types of homeschooling available and attempt to help the reader choose which type is right for them. It looks like I need to go back over that chapter and see if I can help myself.

I would love to hear from other homeschoolers who struggle with this decision. How did you finally make a choice?

Book Cover


About Jennifer Charboneau

Jennifer Charboneau was born and raised in British Columbia Canada and moved to Arizona with her husband and three children in 2009. Alongside her husband Kevin she has started and run several businesses and continues to pursue her entrepreneurial goals while homeschooling their children.

Posted on July 18, 2013, in Education, Homeschool, Parenting, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Honestly, from the children I have talked to, online schooling gets very difficult for them. Not the actual work itself, but the sitting still and staring at a monitor for several hours. They like the ability to learn hands-on, as well as virtually, and there ought to be a mix.
    I wish you the best in coming to a decision. πŸ™‚

    • I agree. It’s nice to have the guidance, but they are doing things that are pretty boring. Lots of online reading and little quizzes. I’ve left them to their own devices a bit today and I have a ton of painted artwork, a big poster board with a “Thrill Challenge” for our upcoming trip, and now they are making a video. I’m not saying those things will get them into Harvard, but it beats worksheets.

      • Who says it won’t get them into Harvard? It’s about time kids started thinking outside the box and who does that better than us? Besides they are learning geography and digital photography/filming… two very important skills in this new economy. πŸ™‚

  2. You are right of course. This morning I read an awesome post – lots of research based information about a less structured home school environment. (I put the link below.) I have to remember that it is all part of the process. So maybe I’m not ready to completely unschool just yet, but I have seriously reduced the value that I place on standardized tests and ‘grades’…baby steps.


  3. I read your comment on Simple Homeschool and came over here from there. I have been gradually letting go a bit at a time too, wondering about gaps and wanting, as we all do, to help my children have the best education possible. I recently read the book, “Legendary Learning” by Jami McMillian. It covered a lot of ground. It put things in such a helpful way that I could see the possibilities that had been vague to me before. Check it out. I hope that helps, and I wish you the best.

  4. I have been struggling with these same issues. I have four children.Three have gone through the California school system or will be through in the next four years. My youngest I choose to homeschool because of higher class sizes and curriculum that I noticed that was starting to creep into the public Schools and other changes that I didn’t agree with. I am about 80% happy with my choice. My husband doesn’t fully agree with my choice. He is concerned that our daughter will not learn everything she needs to. Thank you for blogging. I understand your position so well

    • Thanks for the comment πŸ™‚ I think that your situation would be much harder…I often feel the need to make things “even” for all my kids. So if I did something for my eldest I feel like I have to do it for my youngest. That and not having your husband on board 100% is really hard too. Stay connected to lots of different homeschool people through blogs, and websites and in person if you have the opportunity. I find that whenever I feel uncertain, spending time reading or talking about the homeschool community is a huge help. I also always try to remember that I can change my mind whenever I want to and send them back to school. I would love to hear more about your journey as well!

  5. My opinion is to school them. Period. There are basic things I want my kids to learn. Being a parent doesn’t mean allowing them to have fun all the time. Life just isn’t that way. We have responsibilities and sometimes we don’t enjoy doing them, but we have to. That too is a trained skill. I remember my grandmother teaching me that I had to finish anything I started. Because of that difficult lesson, I’ve done and accomplished most things I’ve started. It isn’t always easy, it isn’t always fun, but it’s life. So, even though I work all day because it’s a necessity, I still come home and school my kids for 3 to 4 hours (even when I don’t want to or am tired). So if my kids only have 3 hours of discomfort instead of 9 hours of being in school all day, that’s a small splice of time to give to learning. How you decide to teach them is up to you, but at least make sure your kid comes out of homeschooling with everything they need to go to there next step.

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