Welcome to today’s episode of The Christian Minute Podcast, where we discuss the pros and cons of different educational systems. In this episode, I have the pleasure of hearing from Jackie Diggins, a mother of ten children, who has both homeschooled and sent her kids to public school. She will share her insights on the differences between the two systems and how to choose which is best for your family. Stick around as we discuss Homeschooling vs. Public Education: Which is Right for Your Family?
In This episode we talk about:
The differences between homeschooling and public education, including individualized attention and tailored education in homeschooling, and more structure and socialization in public education.
How to choose the educational option that fits their family best, without feeling like there is a right or wrong choice.
How fear can impact your decision and how to be motivated by obedience to God and not fear
How taking life one step at a time can help you navigate aspects of life with a positive mindset.
Homeschooling vs. Public Education: Which is Right for Your Family?
Hi and welcome back to the Christian Minute podcast. My name is Anne Markey, your host, and I’m here with a special gift. Her name is Jackie.
Today we’re going to be talking a little bit about the differences between homeschooling and public education. But before we get into all that, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Introduction to Jackie Dighans
I’m Jackie Dighans. I am a mom of 10 children. I now have six children in the public school system. I used to home-school for 20 years, but now there are six in the public school system.
I’m a covenant life coach, which means faith-based life coach and also an author.
I’ve been married for 30 years.
I love getting to know people who just have so many different experiences and lots of wisdom.
One of the things that really caught my eye was that you have experience with both homeschooling and the public school system.
Because I’m sure you’ve experienced this, where there seemed to be a rivalry between the homeschooling moms and the public moms.
I would just see a lot of arguments back and forth and it’s always interesting just to talk to the different sides and see how things actually look in either decision.
Fundamental differences between homeschooling and public school
Can just maybe explain a little bit the fundamental differences between choosing to do home school or choosing to do either public school or private school?
We started out with one daughter in the public school and then chose to home-school from there because of a business we were starting.
So we chose to homeschool because of our lifestyle. So I always think of home school as a lifestyle.
It just depends on what you’re wanting.
I knew I wanted to relate more with my kids.
We all grew up differently so I maybe wanted to have a little bit different relationship with my children than what I had., Not that mine was bad, but I wanted something different.
I knew I needed to be with them a little bit more to have that. And I like the idea of homeschooling. If they don’t learn something that they’re not into then they can pick it up the next year.
You’re not so boxed into.
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Don’t homeschool out of fear
A lot of people are concerned about the social aspects of homeschooling versus public school.
As for me, I always tried to be sure I wasn’t homeschooling out of fear of the public school or fear of something my kids might pick up there.
I did it because that’s what was on my husband’s and my heart’s. That’s what we decided to do.
But if decisions are fear-based, that’s not a great way to start out.
Fear is one of those things that can keep us from a lot of things. Or drive us in a specific direction because of that fear.
But I think you’re absolutely right that if fear is our motivator, then that’s not the great first step.
Because we know the Bible says that our motivation should be to obey and glorify God. So we’re just doing something out of fear, then we’re a little bit out of alignment.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.1 Samuel 16:7
The Lord’s direction will give you peace
My oldest daughter is 13 and in grade 8. The things she comes home with, and shares about what people say, what she sees can be scary.
When some things come up, this is a chance to make a decision.
Is it still working? Is it time for us to shift?
We can’t take the next step out of dear.
If I’m confident that this is where they need to be, which I am right now for our kids, this is where they need to be. I’m not homeschooling out of fear, but out of obedience.
So then I can go 100 % forward being like, OK God, lead us here. We’re peaceful about this.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be any negative things coming our way, but we get to decide what we do with them and how to work through them.
Shape your frame of mind
As a young mom, I thought I needed to decide at the start of our kid’s lives what education is going to look like.
In my brain, I thought that whatever decision we made, it had to be for all the kids, for their entire school journey.
I was really feeling really anxious about it until finally, I heard The Lord and He said: one child, one year at a time.
Why do we have to make decisions for the whole 12 years or whatever it is? Why can’t we just take it, a year at a time? Even sometimes if it needs to be a day at a time. Is it still working?
Depending on The Lord
Sometimes we will get to the point where I knew I was supposed to put my kids in school. That summer, I said to God: You’re going to have to give me a lot of creativity and energy to continue this.
I always tried to stay open to what God was saying each year and what the kids needed and what I needed, and the family needed one thing that’s interesting, too.
When we were homeschooling, we had a family business. When that shut down, it seemed like then homeschooling changed. Because we could always like, OK, you guys go help with this part of the business and that was part of the home school. They could go be with their dad out there where I was with the younger ones in the house. Well, when that business changed, it almost seemed like shortly after then our schooling changed for the kids where we put them.
I just always assumed that the seasons of childhood were so quick. Seasons when they’re small and they teach you a lot maybe about like the baby years. But then the different seasons you go through as a family or even as an education and how that’s going to change.
So it’s interesting how you said that starting your business is what prompted the change of lifestyle.
How stopping that business brought you into a new season. And that one season change might mean it also means there are changes in education or other changes in different areas.
The only reason I’m doing this is that I know you’re with me because it was not easy to shift everyone over. But He said they will excel and be a light. So as I shifted them and I heard that word, I stood on that whenever there were some struggles with the kids.
I wouldn’t let fear overtake me or think we made the wrong decision because these things are happening. Instead, I stood on the word that I had heard – this is where they need to be.
And I know that some things can easily be moved by circumstances, but we need to be people that are moved by God.
What parents can be looking for
What are some kinds of things that parents can be thinking about or looking at to just help them make these types of decisions?
Sometimes we’ve shifted due to different seasons in our lives. Just when things start feeling kind of uncomfortable or what’s another word for that just it gets hard in a way.
- Asking: why is this feeling so hard now? Almost like you don’t have the energy for that particular thing anymore sometimes, then that can be a good time to get curious.
- Why am I not having the energy I had for this for the last 15 years?
- Why is that all of a sudden changing and is it then time to shift?
Sometimes we just overlooked that and think it’s just a season in my life. But sometimes it’s God saying, it’s time for something new here, and He wants to do something new with your family.
I know for us, knowing that my kids would be a light in the school and that they would excel there, too.
In homeschooling, you don’t always know exactly where they’re at. As far as compared to the public school system and so ours weren’t all right on spot, but they got there.
I didn’t focus on the other but just looked at what was getting uncomfortable here. Why am I feeling this shift, this hard?
Listen to your kids
Sometimes kids will even say I don’t like doing this and it’s good to get curious.
Why are they saying that all of a sudden?
God has used that before. We put our kids into one place for a couple of them for a year or two during COVID the one said- I don’t ever want to come back to this place again.
And I was thinking and we were just at the point of making a decision.
I hadn’t heard the one say that at all. And then I wondered if God was trying to tell me something.
It’s interesting listening to what our kids are saying and getting curious about why they are saying or doing something.
That doesn’t mean we always do what they say, but it’s good to listen.
Some parents talk a lot about age and like, at what age can a kid understand. I think sometimes we can get trapped into this thinking that if I asked them their opinion, then people might think I’m doing this because of them.
But I think what you said just hits the nail on the head: what our children say it’s just that little flag that it’s making you think about being curious and asking questions and kind of investigating that line and it may go nowhere.
But listing to your children helps them feel heard. But then they feel involved in the process of deciding what’s going to be the best fit for them.
And I think that that’s really helped us in the sense of just learning who our kids are, seeing how they learn.
Each child is so different
COVID was a huge opportunity to see whether or not homeschooling worked for all my kids.
My middle daughter hated being homeschooled. Because I wasn’t a very structured homeschool mom.
I’m organized and not very structured, and she just excels more in a structured environment.
So even though now she doesn’t love her teacher at school this year, she still prefers it because it has a structure that she does better in.
And so it’s really kind of taking that time to figure out why school or homeschooling isn’t this working. Why is this feeling off? And then see if this means we need to make a change or does it mean we help our kids through this uncomfortable time.
It could be either, but it’s just good to get to stop and get curious that way. That way you’re not missing something that God’s trying to do.
One of the things that we look at is whether or not our children are excelling.
One of the drawbacks of public school is, you know, they kind of have to learn at the pace of the public school or they’re behind and then they’re always kind of playing catch up.
So we’re at the point now with one of our kids that she’s behind. So then it’s thinking about: do we push her to get at the same pace? What do we do here?
Do we stay the course? Do we change schools? Do we homeschool?
And I think those answers are gonna look different for everybody.
You are going to be led
You have to be where you’re led.
Everybody has a place and a season for being in a place.
When I was a younger mom, I don’t know that I would have been a great public school mom. But now that I’m a seasoned mom, I do better with that. I flow better.
I was a little bit more fearful as a younger mom. Now, I know how to listen to God better and you know all the things.
People ask me, what is God saying? What is your husband feeling?
Because if you confidently step toward what you and your husband are leaning toward, you can know God’s with you there because he doesn’t ever leave.
If your heart is to listen and you want to do the right thing and you’re leaning toward one way, you can believe you’re led because the word tells us those that are sons of God are led by the spirit of God.
So you can just confidently go, this is what we’ve decided. God’s with us here. If He wants to close the door, He will. He honours the heart that wants to obey.
When you’re seeking the Lord’s will and you’re wanting to obey him, he’s going to like he wants to tell us what to do, right?
He loves it when we ask Him to show us the way. When we do, He is going to show us the way.
What time of year should parents be asking these questions
Do you have a particular practice, whether it’s weekly or yearly, that you think through the education options and how you’re going to continue or is it just seeing kind of how the kids are feeling and how things are working out?
We’re in a season now where we are always listening, always aware of changes whether it changes the family’s making or changes in us, one of our kids, you know how they’re dealing with school.
So just always awareness and have an open heart saying: God if you want to shift something.
I don’t like to get too settled, you know what I mean? Because I want to be moldable and shapeable as we go.
Since we already have switched from home school to public and that was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, you know? But I’ve seen how He’s blessed it because I listened.
And I didn’t just do the safe and comfortable thing. The thing that I was familiar with, the thing that all the kids were familiar with.
I was willing to step out and do the new thing. And so I’m always very aware of God, and asking: are you wanting to do something different this year? Or knowing that it won’t ever look like it did?
We were a whole different family then. But just willing to shift as we go. It doesn’t really look the same.
You are allowed to change things up
One of my friends was homeschooling for a really long time but then got completely burnt out and so she took a break and sent her kids to school for a year. But then decided to bring them back home but then decided to homeschool differently.
So even if you’re feeling like the Lord still wants you to homeschool, things aren’t working, it’s not necessarily going to mean God wants you to send them to public school. It could just mean there you need to shift something in the way you’re doing school.
There other options that you can still enjoy the homeschooling pieces but you’re not going to get burnt out?
What benefits are you eligible for?
We’re really fortunate because we live. I live in Alberta, Canada, and it’s one of the provinces that has so many options for education, schooling, for homeschooling. Homeschool parents actually get money from the government to homeschool their kids.
And I don’t think there’s another province in Canada that does that.
So there are so many kids’ programs and groups and different options. So there are quite a lot of homeschooling kids and families here.
And so I think that that’s a huge benefit.
If you do want to homeschool, it’s worth thinking about whether or not you are eligible for any type of support.
This can be activities or things that you can be part of so that you’re really not feeling like you’re doing it alone.
Life happens regardless of the choice you make
When I was homeschooling, I found that life happened right as your homeschooling life happens. And we had a baby every other year, we had business.
I always tried to keep a pretty good schedule and routine and but I also kept it very flexible as needed because if you get too rigid it doesn’t flow well.
But then as I put my kids in school, I realized life happens there too.
And one of the verses that God gave me as I was homeschooling my kids was:
All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.Isaiah 54:13
And so I just remember holding on to that verse. I remember thinking: OK God, I’m going to take the steps. I know I’m going to do my best job, but I’m trusting you.
And it’s the same thing I feel with my children at school.
I’m thankful for the teachers, I’m thankful for this opportunity for them and all the things.
A common misconception about public school
I think one fear that a lot of Christian families or homeschool family has, is that sending their kids out of the home for school stops a lot of that life happening or even the connection that you have with your kids.
And I know for ourselves, even though we don’t see the kids as much on a school day as we would on a nonschool day, our relationships are still really strong because of the things we do when they are home.
Will your relationship with your kids change when they go to school?
If any parents are scared of sending their kids to school, can you talk about how that can change the relationship with the kids?
We found that it creates new opportunities. New conversations to talk with them about things that they wouldn’t come up with just when they’re home, which isn’t bad.
We graduated the three oldest ones homeschooled. They didn’t have any public schools.
Now the family that it’s changed, only two of them haven’t been homeschooled at all, the youngest 2.
But it creates new conversations, interaction with new people, and learning how to deal with different personalities. You know, teachers and principals and friends. It just expands your world in a good way.
If that’s where you’re supposed to be, look for the opportunities there and then enjoy the time you have with the kids at home.
We try to keep things like Monday through Thursday, no TV in the evening. Phones are off by a certain time.
It doesn’t always flow quite the same but just try to have some boundaries and opportunities.
Catching those moments of when we’re driving them places and you know just doing what we can and then trying to keep like the Sunday time Family Day and you know just anyway it’s a flow it.
I just have learned to flow with life and I don’t if I sense something uncomfortable then I either talk about it or we shift something. We also make a point of being more intentional with the time we have with the kids.
That word intentional is so key because that’s exactly what it needs to be.
Certainly, when you do have less time with your kids, you have to take advantage of the time you do have and be intentional about it and look for ways to have meaningful conversations.
For us as well as a family, we decided pretty early on that we didn’t want to have our kids involved in a zillion things. So they’re involved in maybe one or two things during the week so that we can have those meal times together or those Sundays together or that intentional time together that we’re always connecting.
My oldest is turning 14 in September, and in Alberta, you can start work. And so I know that that’s going to bring a new season. So I’m trying to prepare for the future. It’s going to shift our schedule.
I have to kind of rethink this intention that I’m having with the kids. How is this going to work?
So it’s interesting to be aware of those shifts.
But as you said, not being afraid of those changes, but using them as an opportunity to either ask the Lord for Wisdom, for direction and then trusting that He’s going to take you where He wants you to go.
Kids starting work or kids starting to drive or whatever. It’s what they need to do. They’re starting to flap their wings, and getting ready to leave our nest.
I try to give them as much opportunity to not only still stay connected but also recognize they’re going to be leaving.
How to prepare for your child to leave the nest
I just talked to a friend this weekend and she and her husband have this theory that at 16 you pretend that they’re not in your home even though they are. And you spend basically those two years giving them as much independence or responsibility in your home. So that by the time they are 18, if that’s the age they’re leaving at, they’ve already had 2 years experience.
Do you have like a process or just things that you consider as you’re like helping your children go through these seasons and stages?
You know, as early as they can. We started seven kids in the school system. Do you know how many paperwork, how much paperwork we filled out, I mean? It was crazy. So I gave each of them a pen, as many as could write, and they filled the paperwork out and I signed.
So as young as possible, I start having to make the phone call or do the thing. And so by the time they’re that age, it’s not difficult. Like, how do I do this, mom? No, they’ve probably already done it several times here.
Even before 16. I’m working on their independence. I do try to have them get their own lunch or whatever. But here and there though I will I’ll be like hey come on in and make this for me.
I think also this mindset that you can have a plan or an idea as to how you want things to go, but as my kids are getting older and I’m realizing what they can do. That the reality doesn’t always match my idea of how it’s going to go.
And so instead of being rigid, just giving them that space.
I always say that home is a safe space to practice. We’re also just giving them a safe place to fail so that they can learn. That way, when they’re on their own, they’ve already failed at this. They’ve already gotten up from this and they’ve moved on because we gave them a really safe environment to do that in.Anne Markey
I think we just do our best and do what we know and not none of it’s perfect but some of the stuff our kids have to walk through on their own will just need to learn it the hard way.
We’ve had we had one of the older kids specifically who would kept a messier room just it was just that way. Well now, she’s got a very organized house. So it doesn’t always look the same as you think it would as they get on their own.
They’re going to have to figure it out and they decide and sometimes they can’t do it right in the home for whatever reason.
Just, you know, I’ve enjoyed seeing, we’ve got 3 married kids now and four grandkids and I’ve just enjoyed seeing them parent and seeing them run their homes well.
And you know, it’s a blessing to me too, and I know I wasn’t perfect, but I know my parents weren’t perfect either. We all had to learn certain things.
Advice for people moving from public school to homeschooling
So we’ve talked a little bit about parents transitioning from home school to public school. What about parents who’ve never tried homeschooling? They’re in the public school system and they’re thinking about homeschooling. Do you have any advice kind of going that way?
So if you know that’s what you’re supposed to do, go online, or ask a friend. There’s so much more curriculum and program available these days.
It’s changed so much and we didn’t ever do anything online specifically. Ours was bookwork. That’s just what we did.
But there are so many different things and I would recommend just asking a few people.
Everyone has different advice or different curriculums they liked and worked for them.
But just make a decision. When/if it doesn’t work, you can always change the curriculum.
Once you have your core subjects, you can ask your child, what are you interested in? And try to get some little projects or things that they could do to learn and grow in their interest.
And so I don’t think I was amazing at all of that, but I did what I knew.
It’s the process that we do it in. The attitude we do it in that is the most important.
So don’t bring your children home and yell at them and harp on them and have a negative relationship. It’s not worth it. If this is what you’re supposed to do, do it with a good spirit, and a good heart, so that your kids then are modelled that and they grow. It’s a good relationship.
Even though you have struggles, you have those moments. God taught me a lot about doing it with the right spirit so that you’re a good example as you’re homeschooling them.
I think that goes even the other way.
I just want to just recap some of the things you said:
- The answer is going to look different for every family and we just need to be looking to the Lord to get that direction. And when we do, He’s going to show us the exact way.
- Start small: Once you start investigating homeschooling, it can feel overwhelming because there are so many more resources out there than ever before. And so starting small and then building. As you get more comfortable, you get a rhythm. And I think that could help a lot of people.
- Asking a friend: The resources available to me in Alberta are completely different than those of somebody who lives anywhere else. And so that support and those resources are going to look different depending on where you live. And yeah, Google always can tell you what’s in your area.
* This post contains affiliate links, please see my disclosure policy for details.
Connect with Jackie:
Before we go can you tell them maybe where they can find you online?
Jackie has written two books. Each can be found on Amazon.
- Covered on a Deeper Level: Living in Triumph While Going Through Trials: What if you embrace your trials and grow through them rather than wish them away? What if their purpose is to make you mature and complete, lacking nothing? Take a walk with me through my journey of life raising ten children. Walk with me through the ups and downs of marriage, parenting, and business, and watch how I ended up on top. I chose growth, learning, believing, and following God through it all. * Click here to order today.
- If you believed: 31 beliefs to act on from the living word to bring about life change. Take five minutes each day to read these scriptures and encouraging words as Jackie assists you in lining up with the Covenant of God in order to live your best life! Click here to order today.
Thank you, Jackie, for being here and just talking through the differences.