Many ask "Which is better?" when it comes to homeschool or alternatives to regular school, when they should be asking "Which is right for my child?" It is no easy question to answer, in either case. The best way to find out is to get involved with your child. If your child is having trouble in school or isn't being challenged enough, perhaps he or she truly does need a different route from the traditional path. But that isn't to say traditional, public schools are bad choices either. Find out if he or she is being bullied, being challenged enough, having troubles in school, anything to show you are both paying attention and wanting to help. In the case of having more than one child, their problems or needs can be quite different from each other. Sometimes resulting in attending different schools. It may be a hassle, but it's important to foster your child's educational development and give them the most options.
Sometimes the simple solution is just getting a tutor or having more parent-teacher conferences. Other times, especially in cases of bullying, it's best to go to a more private alternative. Charter schools can be excellent alternatives as they can be on par with private schools when it comes to personal touches (smaller classrooms, sometimes the implement of uniforms, more parent involvement, etc.) while having the same standardized tests as regular public schools and at the same price (free). These are good for students who still want the social aspect of a school but want either a fresh start or a smaller classroom. It is to be noted that not all charter schools are better than public schools or even as good, however, as they don't receive the same regulation or funding. Which can also result in a lack of clubs, sports, and/or field trips. If your child is athletic, very social, a "big city" kind of kid, or likes to be in clubs I wouldn't suggest these types of schools. But you can't know until you find out what your child personally wants and take a tour around the desired school.
Another good option for those who don't have the money or time to personally teach their child is putting them in online classes. Florida Virtual School has been used nationwide, and if you live in Florida it's free. For those who are in 7th-12th grade and live in Yuma or Scottsdale, Arizona, carpediem.com is a decent school as well. Both include normal homework, lessons, tests, exams, even lectures. Florida Virtual School, or Flvs, even includes an online classroom where students can virtually "raise their hands" during a live discussion that includes visual presentations (albeit it's only a "virtual whiteboard" that is shown, but a lot of useful things are shown on it-depending on the teacher). For either options it's always necessary to do more research to find the right school, rather than just take someone else's word on it. Although I wouldn't suggest this for younger children, online schools I mean, even if it's to deal with bullying. The reason why I state this is because when a child is young and doesn't fully understand how to use a computer, s/he can accidentally venture off and end up sending personal information, risking not only his/her safety but your identity too. Another reason is that young children need stimulation, physical activity, attention; something that an online classroom can't always provide.
Homeschooling through a personal tutor or even yourself can be very enriching for the both of you if you have the time, resources, proper teaching materials, and money. If the student accelerates at a far faster speed than his or her peers, this and/or online classes can keep him or her occupied and properly challenged in an environment where s/he goes at his or her own speed. I, personally, had two cousins who were homeschooled by their mother and both not only started school at age four but were also both off to college by 16/15. Some public and private schools have the option of early college and AP classes though, which is especially good for people who live in states that don't recognize homeschool diplomas. Sometimes even offering free early college without the need to apply to FASFA or other grant-awarding resources, such as Pinellas County schools in Florida...That is, depending on a student's grades, state funding, and the school's policy. But you wouldn't want to place your child in college early if they're making bad grades or are not ready, either.
Even if your child is being adequately challenged, isn't being bullied, attends a good school, and is involved in extra curricular activities, it's still good to keep checking up on them. Progress reports, weekly or monthly emails from teachers, signing up to the school's Parent Connect (a site that shows the student's progress that you can check on daily without contacting his/her teachers), and having regular meetings with both your child and his or her teacher are all imperative to making sure your child doesn't stray off the path of success. It is important to have open communication and awareness about your children, especially during their teen years. It's the only way to know if your children's school(s) is working out for them.
P.S. I'll be posting my mini-blogs monthly to bimonthly, so stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and miscellaneous info on schooling. Next topic: School Lunches: To Pack or To Buy?