When it comes to type of education, some parents have the means to have a choice between public, private, or home schooling. There is no right or wrong decision to be considered here, only understanding that each choice has some factors that recommend it or lack other factors that may not. What follows are some suggestions about how to match which factors with the preference of parents and the needs of the child.

Comparing which of the three types of schooling offer the most of fifteen different factors, the three types of schooling tend to rank highest as follows:


Teacher pre-service and in-service training,

Standardized curriculum and mandated testing,

Instructional resources and equipment,

Extracurricular and special support services,

Social/economic diversity and size of student body.


Academic achievement focus,

Performance motivation and emphasis on grades,

Strictness of rules and intolerance of off-task behavior,

Education directed toward college preparation,

Tuition and fund raising demands on parents.


Individual attention and individualized instruction,

Parental involvement in/knowledge of daily work,

Curricular adherence to family values and faith,

Social sheltering and small class size,

Social safety.


Assuming they can afford to have a choice, what parents have to ask themselves is which of these paths might most favor the development of their child. Public school creates the opportunity to cope with the push and shove and impersonal treatment that can come from being one in the larger world of many. Children learn to make their way in a crowded institutional system with a great variety of instructional and extracurricular resources. Private school (whether non-denominational, religious, or charter) offers students a more academic focus, usually with a sense of preparing for post secondary education at the end. Children learn the will to work when they donít want to study because studying is the norm for their peers. And home schooling creates the opportunity for having education tailored to the childís nature and the parentsí values. Children learn to discover and develop their individual interests, sheltered from the distracting exposures that exist in a classroom of same-age peers.


Also consider how location affects your childís learning environment. In public school, children are usually assigned from he same geographic attendance area and so can make friends who live relatively close by. Going to private school, however, means making friends with children from all over the community, and so it becomes harder to get together with friends after school, and harder for parents to get to know other parents. Home schooling usually requires that parents network with other home schooling parents to avoid social isloation for their child.

Paying for private school does not guarantee parental influence. In a public school, if parents disagree with how their child is treated, they can appeal to the principal, superintendent, school board, even state board of education. But in a private school, there is no appeal. The principal can simply say, "If you donít like how we treat your child here, you are free to enroll him elsewhere."

Same-sex schools, particularly for young women, can have beneficial effects both academically and developmentally. There is less presure from sex-role stereotypes about what a woman can and cannot do and no social distraction from trying to manage day time relationships with young men. More social and psychological freedom for personal and academic growth is a lot of what same-sex education has to offer young women.

Public, private, or home schooling? Each has its strengths and limitations. What parents with the means and desire to choose will be affording is a compromise between getting the best that type of education has to provide, and missing some of the best that the other two types have to offer.

© Carl Pickhardt Ph.D. For permission to use, contact the author.