Can you afford homeschool? Homeschooling can be a daunting proposition. Contrary to popular belief, most homeschool families are not wealthy. Like every school option, homeschool is a choice. How important is it to you to have some control over what your child learns and how your child learns? Homeschool families generally put these two things high on their list of priorities – far above having a larger house, driving new cars or eating out often. If you are debating whether you can give up your income and live solely on your partner’s income download this worksheet and do the math.
Going to one income (or one full-time and one part-time income) can be a scary proposition. If you are home full time, though, many of your expenses come down – transportation, convenience foods, dry cleaning, overtime child care, and, possibly, your taxes. There is also the intangible benefit of reduced stress for everyone. Having one parent home full-time makes routine things like grocery shopping, doctor visits or having a sick child less disruptive and far easier to accomplish.
Like anything else, homeschooling can be as expensive as you want it to be! If you want an easy, all-in-one curriculum be prepared to pay for it. If you are willing to do some work, visit the library, use used materials and get creative, homeschooling can be amazingly affordable. With young children you can invest in some quality art supplies and paper, use your library card and internet resources and have an amazing year of homeschooling!
Looking at a basic K-2 homeschool schedule, here is the break down of costs (1-2 kids) to cover the basics for this age group:
- Art supplies – $50-100 Buy the best quality you can afford and teach your children to use them carefully. They will be less frustrated with their efforts with high-quality stuff.
- Reading – put your library card to work and pick up a used copy of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Let’s assume you’re diligent about fines and call it $25 for the year. You can find tons of lists of books recommended for each age group online.
- Writing – at this age, they’re learning. Invest in a dry erase board ($20 +$5 for markers), and lined paper ($3-5). Have your child copy your sentences from the dry erase board to paper or below yours on the dry erase board (or with sidewalk chalk in the driveway!). Repeat daily and they’ll learn to write.
- “Rithmetic – for basic counting, do not underestimate the power of marbles, jacks, M&M’s or raisins. Beyond that, there are tons of affordable math options out there – Singapore and Math U See are two – let’s say $50. If you can balance a check book, you can teach grammar school math with little help.
- Science – again, use your library and explore whatever is of interest to your child. You do not need anything formal at this age. For birthdays/holidays, ask grandparents for things like zoo memberships, national park memberships or a Brock Microscope (you’ll get years and years of indoor and outdoor use from this!) in lieu of another Lego Set or Barbie Mansion.
- History – you can include history in your reading or do it as a unique subject. For young kids, quick stories with basic facts and maybe a fun project (build your own Nile Delta) are all you need. Introduce things like timelines – stretch a sheet of butcher paper along a wall and have kids glue on pictures of what you study in rough order – add things like family birthdays at the end of the timeline for perspective. Additionally, use a globe or wall map to pinpoint things you are studying or are interested in. If you buy a globe and a wall map or two, you’ve spent $70-ish?
That’s $275 for K-2 and after you buy things like the globe and the dry erase board, your cost will actually go down for a couple of years!
Now, let’s say your child attends public school for K-2:
- School Spirit T-shirt – worn every Friday $15
- Uniform shorts and plain t-shirts (some schools) – week’s worth? $60
- Mandatory school supplies (that belong to the school, not your child once purchased) – $50
- Teacher gifts, school parties, extra supplies for teacher (toilet paper, copy paper, etc) – $50
- PTA dues if you opt in – $20-30
- PTA fundraisers – usually $20-$50 per family/per child
- School lunch (pizza day, days you don’t pack lunch) 1/week @$2/lunch = $80
- School Book Fair
- School Pizza Nights/Skating Nights
- Before and/or after school care?
- Field trips?
- Day care during long breaks? You’re spending at least $310 and you will do that every year as you are not investing in any one-time or reusable supplies. This is the cost for one child. (There is not room to get into property taxes here.)This is a starting point. Do research by talking to moms with older kids to find out what they are spending for public or private schools. Talk to homeschool moms and do the same.
If you really want to, you CAN afford to homeschool!