Hey I saw this thread a while back and meant to reply, then got busy with biochem and forgot LOL.
Anyway, I think homeschooling is terrific. I will say it doesn't always work well, but if done right, I think it's awesome. I was homeschooled from when I was super young (like pre pre-K) and wanted to learn to read until 7th grade. 7th grade was the start of my public school career so I did get the both worlds, but seemly opposite of a lot of people here who posted their experience. The reason I had to go to public school is my parents divorced and my father (who's idea it was in the first place to homeschool) decided he didn't want my mom having "extra" time with me and my bro during the day for school and took it to court and of course won because the gov't isn't going to want us homeschooled.
My mom taught my brother and I very well. She didn't have a teaching degree or anything, so don't be afraid if you don't. There are TONS of resources out there. And one good thing you might want to going is the HSLDA (home school legal defense association) which will help you if for some reason your state ever wants to get you into trouble for homeschooling, etc. Some states are worse than others and more legal loopholes to jump through. But anyway, back to the schooling itself. My mom created her own curriculum so it was much more interesting, she used a mish-mosh of stuff instead of one specific course pack (Like using all BJU, or all Abeka, etc). In fact, it was really funny when my 7th grade science class we used the EXACT SAME books that I used in the 4th grade
Of course, that made a super-easy science year for me. I was three years ahead of the class.
Once I got into public school, there are a few things I immediately noticed:
1) No interaction with people outside your age. This is totally unlike the real world when you deal with peers, those younger than you, and those older/elders. Whereas when I was homeschooled, I not only interacted with my peers but also various age ranges.
2) I was really held back. A lot. I had to go super-slow like the whole rest of the class. I was used to setting my own pace (which, was usually quite fast!) but now I had to put the breaks on and be bored...and sit...and do nothing...and learned what I'd already learned years ago...and twiddle my thumbs. Although I learned that I could take the books and materials from my prior class to the next one, so I had no homework by the end of the day because I did the homework while bored in the next class
High school was a touch better, but not much. It only worked out because I did it in a way that I could go to college my senior year of high school. I'm now graduating from college this May, but it's only my 3rd year. I'm used to a very rigorous schedule and with college I was able to do that once again. I take on average 21 credits a semester (6 classes) plus of course working almost full time. Finally, my pace again!
A major concern I see time after time after time is socialization. Yes, you can do this wrong. You can isolate your child from everyone. BUT YOU DON"T HAVE TO!! There are a LOT of organizations out there. Get them involved in sports. Get them in 4-H/FAA. Get them in youth groups at church. When I was homeschooled, I was on a soccer team, volleyball team, heavily involved in 4-H, worked at a day care, took gymnastic lessons, art classes, swimming lessons, was in the youth group at church, had friends over all the time, or went to friend's houses, and more! And not just other homeschoolers, but public/private/parochial school kids too. It's not an all-or-nothing thing.
In public school I guess the "socialization" differences I noticed was mostly the lack of discipline and respect on the part of the other students to their teachers. And then all the kissy-kissy let's make out in the hallway stuff (don't think this doesn't go on in middle school! I think the most unique place was a couple attempting to have sex between the soda machines) and don't say kids need to see that stuff not to be naive - so not true. I knew it existed, we weren't sheltered kids. That doesn't mean one needs to see it. And we went to public school in an excellent district very well ranked as one of the best in the whole area; it has an excellent reputation. It wasn't some backwater school district.
Another major concern I see is "how well is my child doing in comparison to the standard?" Well, there is a reason for standardized tests. My mom had my brother and I took them every two years. We were usually in the 97th percentile, give or take one. In MI, we have the "MEAP" test which is the standard public school testing. Homeschoolers ARE allowed to take these standardized tests! And, you can do PSAT, ACT, SAT, etc for college just like any other student. There are also schools that are recognized and allow homeschoolers to join, so you have to take certain courses, and you get official grades and GPA that colleges recognize because they are accredited. However you don't even have to do that. If you have good standardized scores, there usually isn't a problem. Homeschooling is becoming much more common and colleges in general are very open to homeschoolers. My brother didn't have any troubles getting into college even coming directly off of homeschooling. In fact, he even got a letter from Princeton asking him to apply!
My brother was held back horribly in public school - especially in math. They would not let him advance even though he passed placement tests with flying colors. So, he actually ended up getting his own lawyer and taking his own case to court to win homeschooling back in his sophomore year. (I was a senior and graduating, so it wasn't worth me trying to win it back). He actually won, and started right into calculus which is where he should have been. The summer between his sophmore and junior year he took multivariable calc. One would ask, how could my mom teach him at this level? What do you do when your child gets to where you can't teach them anymore because it's too above your own head? That's simple. There are other teachers, tutors, or college classes. We happen to live close to a university, so he went there for some classes. How much more "socialization" can you get than holding your own as a high school sophomore at a university? He was perfectly fine there. Much more at home on campus than at the high school.
Another great thing about homeschooling is that we learned to be self-starters and self-teachers. Meaning, we want to learn something, and we take initiative to learn it, and we know HOW to learn. That is something that is not taught in public schools: HOW to learn. Things are spoon-fed. If kids don't get it, they are screwed for the class and their grade and looked upon as stupid instead of seeing that everyone has their own learning style. If they get it, well, eventually they'll hit a point when the don't, and then they'll have no clue how to learn the material. My mom is a tutor now, as is my brother, and so I see it all of the time with their students. Their philosophy with tutoring centers a lot on how their students learn - helping them find that out. Learning should be fun, and sadly most kids don't see it that way because it's either just work, it's boring, or it's frustrating and depressing because they don't understand it. And that is very sad. My mom showed me HOW to learn, and she showed me how much fun learning was! My brother and I would not be where we are today if it was not for that. I'm just turned 21 graduating from college with a BS in biochem, accepted to every grad school I applied for. Purdue even accepted me into their neuroscience program without even asking me down for an interview!! And my brother is just turned 18 and already a junior in college double majoring in math and computer science. I think my mom did a damn good job
And I honestly believe homeschooling is what set the foundation. I've always kept that foundation with me, and it's served me well.
All this being said, I recognize that not everyone will agree, and I will say homeschooling is not for everyone. I've met kids who were homeschooled who were in a completely different scenario than my brother and I were and so I've seen how it doesn't always work the best. Usually those are the ones that the parents did keep pretty much locked up in the house. So there is a lot with how you homeschool for if it works or not.
Anyway, I hope that helps. PM me if you are interested in more info. Or, I know my mom would love to talk about how she did it, if you are curious.