2020 is no doubt the year that homeschooling has appealed as a greater option than ever before. Parents who already had their children attending public schools are thinking of exploring homeschooling for the safety of their children while parents of toddlers are more readily considering homeschooling.
If you are one of these parents who wants to start or switch over to homeschooling, a major question you must be asking yourself is: how much does it cost to homeschool my child?
To answer this question, you have to look at all the aspects of homeschooling by taking into account all the costs you will incur when you are homeschooling your children.
In this guide, we will be breaking down the cost of homeschooling, and uncovering the hidden costs you may not have thought about so that you can make an informed decision.
The Costs of Homeschooling
Unlike the public schooling system where the government covers all or most of the costs of each learner per year, homeschooling is largely paid for by parents (in most states) and it can be quite expensive. It can be much cheaper if you know the costs you need to incur when homeschooling your child and how to minimize them.
Here are the most common costs:
A Homeschooling Curriculum
This is arguably the most basic cost you will have to incur when you are homeschooling your child. Homeschooling curriculums cost anywhere from (literally) nothing to thousands of dollars. This all depends on what you are looking for in a curriculum, and where you look.
You will also need to get a curriculum that’s the best fit for your child. However, you might not get a curriculum that offers everything you need to teach your child, and therefore you may need to outsource some subjects, adding additional costs.
Many homeschool programs are still majorly based on the parent as the primary instructor, but in some instances where you are not comfortable teaching your children certain subjects, you might need to get someone else to teach your child.
While some parents can afford to hire a private tutor for these subjects, some may find this expensive. This is why some homeschooling programs give you the option to outsource the subjects you don’t want to handle over to their program tutors. This way they take these subjects off your hands. If you think this is something you might need, please check and ensure that the curriculum you purchase has that option.
Also, keep in mind that it’s significantly cheaper to put together a curriculum instead of getting a packaged deal from providers. However, what you gain in finances you are likely to lose in time.
When you are homeschooling your family, one thing that you will constantly need is printouts for reading materials. This is why every homeschooling family needs a good printer. You can always print elsewhere (like an office supply store), but this is very expensive over the long run.
It does not need to be anything fancy and you can even go for a simple black and white printer.
Books and Supplies
There will be some books recommended for your kids on the homeschooling curriculum that you will need to get for your family. This is another cost to keep in mind. You, however, can get eBooks versions for these books, which are generally cheaper than physical books. EBooks also make it easy for you to make corrections because you can reprint a page if your learner messes up.
Another way to keep the cost of books down is by buying used books instead of getting new copies. This way, you get a discounted price. Consider using the same books with different kids if you have a large family.
Selling books when your kids are done using them is another way to keep the cost of homeschooling on the lower side.
Factor in the cost of other essential supplies too like notebooks and pencils. If your child will be taking an art class, paint and canvases are some supplies you will have to get too.
Your Time as a Parent
When you decide to homeschool your family, keep in mind that you are the main instructor for your children. You will need to invest a considerable amount of time in schooling. If you are a working parent, this means losing some income hours.
With some student-led homeschooling curricula, however, you can minimize the time you use instructing the kids as these programs allow children a lot of autonomy. Before you decide to get your kids a child-led homeschooling curriculum, however, check to make sure that this is something they will be good at.
Field trips are a large part of homeschooling. They are what makes homeschooling hands-on and practical. You will need to set aside some money for the trips.
Some websites like Groupon offer great discounts on anything. Use sites like this to look for cheaper field trip options.
An Electronic Device Like a Computer or a Tablet
While homeschooling is as old as human civilization, it has evolved, and now the most common source of homeschooling resources is on the internet. Your children will need a device to access the internet and browse through materials.
Homeschooled kids, unlike their peers in public schools, are generally isolated. You have to sign them up for extracurricular activities. This can be expensive depending on what activities your kids are interested in.
In most cities and states, there are loads of options for extracurricular activities. Whatever the case, make sure your kids are pursuing other activities outside of regulated school work without overwhelming them.
Depending on where you live and the government regulations put in place for homeschooling, you might need to give your children standardized tests. Find out in advance whether this is required and how much it will cost you (some states offer free testing).
These are some of the costs you may not think about initially because they are not as directly linked to homeschooling as the others. The cost of food, for instance, will be higher when you are homeschooling because all your kids' meals are at home, unlike school-bound children who might have one meal at school per day.
You will also have to spend some money on fuel when you take your homeschooled children out on a field trip.
How to Keep the Homeschooling Costs at a Minimum
When it comes to homeschooling, the cost all depends on how much you are willing to put in and also how creative and resourceful you can be with your homeschooling program.
Spending less does not necessarily mean that you will not be giving your child a quality education. It might come down to how many resources are available to you and your child in your area.
Here are some of the ways you can keep the homeschooling budget low.
Use Free Resources
There are lots of free homeschooling resources available online and all you need to have is internet access. Khan academy is a non-profit organization committed to providing education for all kids for free. They offer free curricula to homeschooled kids and you can take advantage of it if you either cannot afford to buy an improved curriculum or you just want to supplement the one you have.
Free online schools for homeschooled kids are also something else you can take advantage of. Instead of going on physical field trips, you can take virtual field trips anywhere in the world and explore the world from home. It may not be as good as the real thing, but it's stimulating enough.
Co-sharing the cost of homeschooling kids with another family is also another thing you can do to lower the cost. If you know a family that’s also homeschooling a child, you could both share the same resources. This way, you spend half the money you would have spent normally.
If you need to, buy second-hand resources instead of buying new. There are lots of second-hand books around, which are generally a lot cheaper than new ones yet many are still in great condition. EBooks are another cheaper option, and once you have bought one ebook, there is usually no limit to how many copies you can print. This means you can print it for more than one child to be used by everyone in your family, though distributing copies outside of your household is often ilegal.
Combine curricula for different kids in your family. Some curriculum providers will allow you to combine curricula for kids in different grades in your family. If you have a large family, your younger kids can use the resources you have acquired for your older kids so you don’t have to buy resources for each kid individually.
If you can design your kid’s school curriculum instead of getting everything in a package, you will significantly lower the cost of getting the curriculum for your learner. If you have the right resources, you will find that the process is not as cumbersome as you might expect.
Public libraries are also a great, (usually) free resource if you live close to one. Your child can study in these libraries for free. Most modern libraries also have online subscriptions available, and they often cost next to nothing.
Finally, take advantage of seasonal discounts offered by retailers when buying school supplies for your kids. Right after the back to school period, most stores significantly discount school supplies because everyone has already shopped for the school year.
Homeschooling vs Public Schools: Which Option is More Expensive?
Well, as I have already illustrated, you can homeschool your family for as little as a few hundred dollars per year. In the public school system, however, you generally only have to pay for a small percentage of your child’s education before college — though the government may spend as much as $10,000 per child in public school every year.
As we have also seen, there are a lot of free resources on the internet that you can take advantage of. All this goes to make homeschooling cheaper for you.
Why homeschool your child?
A majority of parents do not want to homeschool their children because it’s a lot of work and honestly, most working parents cannot afford to homeschool their children as they don’t have the time needed to supervise their children’s education process.
If you have a child with specific learning disabilities, then you might want to homeschool your child to give them the special attention they require. This is especially true if your public school district offers poor quality special education services.
When it comes to homeschooling, there is no specific price tag attached to it. It can be as cheap as you can afford and it can be just as expensive too. You simply have to find the most suitable program for you and your family.
We hope this guide helped shed some light on the matter. Check out our other homeschooling guides too for information on other subjects too.