When deciding to homeschool, parents must decide between a charter school, which is basically a public school made for homeschoolers, or independently homeschooled. Then they need to decide if classes will be taught virtually, online, in person, or a mixture of all. How does a parent know what options to go with? It’s important to know the difference between homeschool and charter school because when you do it simply comes down to personal preference, how your child learns best, and what is in the best interests of your child.
If you’ve read, My Academic Story, you know from 4th grade to 12th grade, I was homeschooled in California via a public charter school. At the end of the comparison, I will give input on what charter school was like for me and how my parents utilized it to give me the best education possible.
It’s important to note that every state is slightly different in its public school requirements and its homeschool laws. Therefore, the conditions and requirements may vary. Nonetheless, this comparison will give you a good idea of the main differences.
How My Family Utilized Charter School As A Homeschool
As you know, I attended a charter school from 4th to 12th grade. However, I was basically homeschooled as I only had one or two subjects on campus because I was either on a college campus (I started college at 13) or my parents taught the rest of the subjects at home.
My parents chose a charter school because they like the planned curriculum, standardized testing, optional physical classes, teachers’ support, and the extracurricular activities provided. They didn’t want to tackle everything on their own.
My parents said that our particular charter school gave them a lot of control and allowed them to homeschool us how they wanted. They used the state standard curriculum that was required. However, there was flexibility with it, and they were able to tailor it. If there was something they wanted to skip over that was fine. If they wanted to stay on a topic longer or elaborate on something more, they were able to do that too. And if they wanted to teach us something that the state didn’t require, they found the resources and taught it. It was honestly as simple as that.
Sometimes my parents put me in physical classrooms, but most of the time I was taught the subject at home. My parents and I enjoyed the teacher’s support (there’s something unique and incredible about a homeschool/charter schoolteacher. They are a different breed. They are exceptional and see their students as individuals student and cater to how each student learns.) My parents had no problem having me take the state’s standardized tests for each grade. I didn’t mind it either. Since it’s a public charter school it was free for me to attend.
Concurrent Enrollment Is Very Beneficial For Homeschoolers
A huge benefit was when I began concurrent enrollment at my local community college. Concurrent enrollment was how I started college at 13 and graduated with my MBA at 20. Concurrent enrollment puts you on an accelerated academic path and is my number one recommendation for all students, both public and homeschooled. It is the fastest way to earn a college degree in the shortest amount of time for anyone going into high school or still in high school. At 16, I received my high school diploma and at 17, my AS in Business Administration. I had an Associate degree before most students graduated from high school with their diplomas.
I explain the process here, What Is High School Concurrent Enrollment And How You Can Make The Most Of It and High School And Homeschool Students: Concurrent And Dual Enrollment. They are a wealth of information if you want to learn a little more about the process.
I Am Always Asked These Two Questions About Homeschool And Charter Schools
There are two questions that I always get asked. How did you graduate college at such a young age, and did you socialize when you were homeschooled? I think this is one of the biggest misconceptions about homeschooling students. Perhaps, it was a problem a long time ago, but it definitely isn’t now. With all our modern technologies and so many activities, it’s easy to stay connected and interact with other people.
I started a charter school in the 4th grade. My parents utilized the extracurricular activities the school offered. We went on field trips, met with my teacher (sometimes on campus, sometimes at home, and other times at a park if the weather was nice), and had movie nights (a teacher would stay after hours to make popcorn and set up a movie for students), and meetups for activities. I really didn’t take many classes on campus until 7th grade, but I was very active with the students at my school.
Extracurricular Activities For Homeschoolers
My parents also had me in many extracurricular activities outside of school. I did sports, music lessons, karate, and other enrichment classes. I never sat home alone, I was always interacting with other students my age.
By 8th grade, I was in college the majority of the time, taking a few fun classes, like theater, yearbook, art, and home economics at my charter school. I consistently played sports and practiced martial arts. Again, I was socializing nonstop.
If you have any fear that your child will not have social skills or be lacking in them, fear not. If you plan their classes, schedules, and extracurricular activities right they will be very busy and be social butterflies.
What I Did Miss Out On
I missed out on all the high school drama. I mean that seriously. It is hard for me to relate to the drama that a lot of public school students talk about. While I had a lot of homeschool friends, I also had many public-school friends. Some of my public school friends had some really hard times socially. Whether it was bullying, relationship drama, cliques, gossip, fighting, or drugs/alcohol/sex they struggled and had way more stress than I did in those areas. I didn’t experience any of that, nor did my homeschool friends.
As with anything, there are benefits and drawbacks to everything. For homeschool and charter school, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. It’s not always easy to know the best route to take when choosing how to school your child but remember education is fluid, flexible, and constant. No child/student is the same so education will look different for everyone.
For Homeschool Families
No two homeschooling families look the same. The great thing about homeschooling is it is very individualized so each family does it a little differently. Some families find online programs and others go out and buy books and use those to teach their children. Since everyone homeschools differently, blogs can be a great way to source new topics and resources and see how others are homeschooling. Here are 5 Must-Read Homeschooling Blogs.