Switching From Homeschool To Public School- The Low Down From First Hand Experience

Ever wondered what it would be like to switch from homeschooling to public school? Well, we did it. And I’m here to share the real scoop.

I started homeschooling my oldest for preschool when she was 2, and homeschooled her (and her 3 siblings) for 8 years total. They had never been to a brick-and-mortar school. Due to some life changes here, I made a very sudden decision to put them in school. In fact, they started 1 week late. My kids are now in their 3rd year of public school. Here’s what happened- confessions first-hand from a real live homeschool mom. 😉

I’m just going to start with this simple statement. Noting in life is all pros or all cons. There are pros and cons to every choice we make in life. 

Weird Adjustments To Public School

  • Getting up early. Oh. my. goodness. Such a struggle! The first day I woke the kids up they started crying that it was the middle of the night because it was still dark outside. Lol! Getting up in the morning has been a HUGE adjustment. In fact, this is still the time of day when they’re most likely to cry and ask if we can homeschool again.
  • Eating on a normal schedule. So… it never occurred to me that we just kind of ate when we were hungry, and never at set times really. This idea of “you have to eat right now and then eating time is over until it’s eating time again” was a new concept to my kids. They don’t like eating first thing in the morning. We’ve actually been dealing with a lot of stomach issues. You just never can predict what the problem is going to be.

  • Constant sickness. I knew when we started school that we would be sick all year. I knew it- just like a first year teacher. However, the reality of living it was different than just knowing it. We seriously stayed sick all year.
  • Head lice. The most disgusting thing I will ever admit publicly lol. We had lice twice the first year, which was truly awful. It runs rampant through the school. I’ve learned to keep the girl’s hair up as much as possible and hair spray them.
  • It’s Expensive! You think of public school being “free” and that by homeschooling you’re taking one for the team. And by that I mean paying your taxes for school, but also forking out for your own curriculum. But actually, I’ve found public school to be far more expensive. And I actually purchase my curriculum- I don’t do homeschool on the super cheap. The kids are eating school lunch, which is my choice, but it really adds up. They all have to maintain much nicer wardrobes than they did before, which is costly. I do a lot of driving- I’m getting gas several times a week! I can’t believe it! Also, they have to have a lot of specific supplies, then the school is always needing extra money for ice cream, field trips (these trips are REALLY expensive!), recorders, hand sanitizer… you name it. It’s always something.

  • Not being able to live under a rock. My children were pretty… uninformed I guess you would say. In some ways, it was good! They didn’t have friends with iphones. They didn’t know what the newest coolest stuff was. But I wasn’t very good about keeping them informed in general… let’s say about things even like presidential elections. But you have to keep your kids more in the “world loop” or they’re the weird ones out. lol. And let’s face it, perhaps they should know when we have a new president. 😉

So Which Is More Work… Homeschooling Or Public School?

You would think this would be a no-brainer. Homeschooling HAS to be more work on the mom… right? Well, I want to say less work, yes, less time spent… not necessarily.

Here is what I will say about homeschool time vs. public school time. With homeschooling, you’re with the kids all the time. The work is like a constant drip that never stops. With public school, it’s more like you’re being sprayed with a fire hose in the mornings and afternoons, but you get a nice break in between. So pick your poison. lol.

What eats your time and energy with public school kids?

  • Keeping up with the papers. I have 4 kids in school. That means signing planners, behavior charts, reading logs, etc on a daily basis. Don’t forget the permission slips, and the RSVP’s for everything under the sun. Every teacher has a different way to be contacted- email, special texting apps, private websites, a second different texting app- be sure to remember how to contact each individual teacher. And don’t lose the library books, or the self portraits that were sent home for the parents to see, but need to be sent back to be displayed at the Spring something-or-another. ???
  • Homework. Ugh, the homework!!! When you’re homeschooling and the kids come across a really dumb workbook page, you can be like “that’s really stupid- skip that one” but when you’re in public school, you just have to do it no matter how ridiculous it is. Also… aren’t they already in school all day?! The homework is probably my least favorite part after the head lice…
  • All the “special days”. So you dress up as something different for every day of the week on red ribbon week these days. Oh, and the week of Dr. Seusses’ birthday. And don’t forget to dress up as an old person on the 100th day of school, and like a super hero on walk to school day. One day Violet had “tacky day” in her class, Lydia needed to wear her class t-shirt, and Julian had “stinky feet day”, meaning you don’t wear shoes. ALL ON THE SAME DAY!!! And don’t forget doughnuts with dad, muffins with mom, goodies for grandparents. And be sure not to forget any of these special days, or you will be sure to have a kid come home crying that everyone else was wearing their pajamas today, AND had money for the Secret Santa Shop… and they did not. 🙁 Then you get the added bonus of feeling like the worst mom in the world.

  • School events. PTO, singing performances, awards day, veterans day, extra clubs, you name it.
  • Sending the “Extras”. Don’t forget Valentines. Did you know that these days the Valentines come with entire goody bags full of candy? I had no idea. With as much candy as my kids came home with, you’d think they went trick or treating. And do NOT forget to send cupcakes on their birthday for the whole class, and show up at lunch time to pass them out. Unless your kids is too old- then don’t show up and embarrass them. And don’t forget the cookies for the Christmas party. Or any party for that matter. In fact, just don’t forget anything. Ever.


The “Pros” To Public School

  • The kids are learning different skills than they were as homeschoolers. Some that come to mind are certainly having to meet deadlines, how to take tests, doing a lot more writing/busy work, learning from someone besides Mom, and ceratinly engaging in a lot more social activity.
  • The weight of the responsibility is off of me. Even if I put time into their homework, the responsibility of what they’re doing and when it needs to be complete isn’t on me. The weight of the responsibility is gone.
  • My break from kids. It’s nice to have some grown up down time in the middle of the day. I can complete thoughts, and phone calls. I can single task lol. I can run errands all by myself. I can walk across a parking lot without holding anyone’s hand.
  • The house stays cleaner. A LOT cleaner. The house is a lot less lived in. If I have everyone pick up before bed, it stays picked up all day. Like till the next afternoon. There’s less dishes, less dirt being drug in, etc. I can’t believe how much less messy it is actually.
  • The extra curriculars- of course we always did great Art and Music when we homeschooled, but Lydia in particular has loved drama and orchestra! They really are being provided with more new opportunities.

  • The teachers and staff at the school– I just assumed that since schools have so many children that my children would be numbers to them, but they are NOT! I have found the teachers and staff to be very loving and supportive! They remember us, they care about our family situation, they call me with concerns, they make scheduling adjustments… they have been fantastic. I believe that teaching is a vocation, and lets face it- they’re not in it for the money- lol! So… overwhelmingly I have been super shocked by how amazing the people at the school are.

  • The friends- Yes, they’re making lots of friends. No matter how much you socialize a homeschooler, they certainly spend a lot more time with peers at school, and they’re introduced to all kinds. I’m not saying for better or worse, becuase I KNOW homeschoolers are not weird or unsocialized. Not more of them than the general population anyway… 😉

  • The education- My children are being educated and I’m free to do other things. And that’s what I needed for this stage of my life, so I’m grateful to have that opportunity.
  • Enrolling- If you’re thinking about putting your kids in school and are worried about the process… don’t be! It’s public school. Everyone has a right to it here. They have to take your kids- anytime and at any educational level. All you need it a birth certificate and a shot record or religious waiver to the record. You’re in. It’s that easy. They can literally start the same day. They basically have no choice but to take you kid lol.
  • Snow Days!!!! And sick days. And Summer vacation. And Christmas vacation. Without being “behind” or feeling guilty. hahahaha! 😀

From The Kid’s Perspective: How Do The Kids Like Public School?

My different children have adjusted differently. The girls have had a much easier transition than Julian. He has always been a very sensitive child, and this has been hard for him. We are on year 3 now and school is still the hardest for him. He still asks me to homeschool. The girls do not- they have adjusted to public school beautifully.

Some Kid Issues We Have Dealt With

  • The bus- Most behavior/bullying issues/learning bad words etc etc… happen on the bus. I drive the kids in the morning but they have to ride the bus in the afternoons. I think that expecting one adult to supervise 80 kids in a vehicle alone is unrealistic, and that all the kids that come from the worst home environments are on the bus. The way our district works, it is impossible for me to pick up my kids because they attend 3 different schools, so that’s our reality for now.
  • Exhaustion. The kids come home very tired. I feel like the best part of them is already spent by the time they get home. Our home has far fewer rubber band bracelets and oragimi frogs because they don’t have the time and energy for stuff like that anymore. Although we still do these things sometimes, and there are always school projects… lol


Other People Disciplining My Kids:

I gotta say, I don’t like this. On Julian’s 3rd day of school, he left his lunchbox in the classroom because lunch followed gym class, and he didn’t know to bring his lunch box to gym class with him. The teacher let him go back and get it, but then he was made to eat silent lunch. I just… hate not being the one in control of that stuff. He was so upset. But you DO lose control when you’re not homeschooling… And we have had a lot of these instances. It is what it is.

Also the teachers are always like “they have trouble sitting still…” and I feel like… of course they do! They are children! They aren’t meant to be behind desks all day! lol. To Violet’s teacher I actually said “Yes, I know. I was her teacher last year” haha 😉

The Loss Of Our Homeschool Community And Lifestyle

So I’ve only been able to hold onto a few of my homeschooling friends. The ones I’ve held onto are just best friends- the kind of people you keep around no matter what. The others have faded away. It’s hard to be friends with homeschoolers when you’re on the public school schedule because the schedules are just sooooo different. And the pace of life is different. I haven’t felt ostracized by my homeschool friends or shunned or like they are sheltering their children from mine… it’s just that they’re going to homeschool mom meetings and I’m not. They’re at co-op and I’m not. They’re going on field trips and… you guessed it… I’m not. But I am doing other things. Again, it’s different. But the loss of the community is sad. I see the stuff they post on facebook, and I miss them. And sometimes I miss homeschooling.

In Conclusion… 

Obviously, Lydia is my oldest, so she homeschooled the longest. She went right into 5th grade, was ahead of the class in almost everything, caught up on what she didn’t know, and it’s been great. She’s not scarred or behind. All the anxiety I had was a waste of time. She’s fine. And Anabelle was never homeschooled. She started public pre-school at age 4, and she’s happy and well adjusted, too. So there’s not just one way. 🙂


Btw, have totally been typing this post for 3 years now. So these thoughts come from when we first started public school all the way into our third year. It’s funny to look back on now what was an issue in the past. We don’t have any trouble in the mornings anymore. Our mornings run like a well-oiled machine now. 😉 


  1. Yay! So good to hear from you! The eating thing… I tell my kids allll the time. “Do you know if you went to school, you would not be able to eat until it was TIME TO EAT? lol

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! I put my two oldest in public school last year and I’m homeschooling/have at home my younger three. I’ve experienced many of the same things in our transition!

  3. “Homeschooling versus public schooling, blah blah blah”. I can’t hear anything because I’m distracted STARING AT YOUR GORGEOUS FACE. Good Lord, woman! You look fantastic! You’re an inspiration on my journey back from Mom-Land, for sure!
    We just did this three weeks ago. My kids had never darkened the door of a “real school” but life happened and here we are! You are so right about all of this. I’m ambivalent about how I feel about it all, but so far… it’s going pretty well. Thanks for this!


  5. Just wondering, did you consider Catholic school? I hate the idea of my kids going to a school where no mention of God or any type of faith and prayer is allowed.

  6. This was very interesting. I imagine that just writing all of this was emotionally exhausting. May God protect and bless your family

  7. Best quote: “With homeschooling, you’re with the kids all the time. The work is like a constant drip that never stops. With public school, it’s more like you’re being sprayed with a fire hose in the mornings and afternoons, but you get a nice break in between. ” SO TRUE!!!

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