The next question I’ll address in my “Questions People Ask Homeschoolers” series is:
There are many variations on this question and they are frequently asked by new and prospective homeschoolers:
Does homeschooling cost more than private school?
Can you homeschool on a limited budget?
I personally couldn’t even estimate a figure that we spend on homeschooling each year. That’s not to say that it’s exorbitant but, for our family, homeschooling pervades all areas of our lifestyle so it’d be hard to pin down an exact or even close figure. The gifts we buy for the boys are often educational, the trips we take are educational, our impulse buys are usually educational… None of these things were purchased “for school” so do we include them as part of our homeschool budget or would it go into our gift budget, or holiday budget or impulse budget? Even the things that are given to us by family members are usually homeschool or education related. We love this stuff. We love all things related to learning. We don’t HAVE to buy most of it. We just do, and this doesn’t mean you have to.
There is no amount that you have to spend, no products that you have to buy. It all comes down to what you WANT to spend and your budget.
Yes you could spend more than private school fees on homeschooling. Although I’ve seen the fees of some of those schools and even I would be challenged to spend THAT much money on educational stuff…unless I had room for one more bookshelf and then I reckon I’d give it a good go!! 🙂 But on the other hand homeschooling could be almost free if you were thrifty and resourceful enough.
Okay, so this may not have been the answer you wanted. You wanted a set figure, didn’t you? Sorry. Can’t help you there.
There are a few things I will say about homeschool expenses. Yes, it is possible to homeschool for nearly free, but if we have an option, I’m not convinced that homeschooling “on the cheap” is a great option. Homeschooling expenses should at least rate higher in priority to our luxuries.
On the other end of the spectrum, I think we have to be wise stewards of our money. I feel that there’s a saturation point that you can reach with your homeschooling expenses. If you’re spending hundreds and maybe up to a thousand (cringe!! ) on one subject area then I’d begin to wonder if you’re getting value for money! (And yes I did meet a lady who’d spent over a thousand each on Math and Language!! She had bought computer software that was supposed to be all you’d needed to teach Math and language all the way through to the end of highschool. She was on a “payment plan” for the privilege of owning this software. Her children have since returned to school however and I suspect she’s probably still on that payment plan so buyer beware!!)
The amount of money you spend on your homeschooling expenses does not correlate with the success of your students and homeschool. Up to a reasonable point, I think resources (particularly books) can be a great aid, but beyond a sensible amount I think you need to ask yourself why you are spending such great amounts. Are you trying to buy homeschool reassurance?….”If I have all of this stuff, my children just have to learn” or are you too easily convinced that you need the latest and greatest tools that you keep seeing advertised? And to be honest, I think we can all fall into these “if only I had” situations at least some of the time. I’d put my hand up (blushingly) if you asked me to be totally honest…
So let me get back to the original question, how much do I spend on homeschooling. I spend a moderate amount that could possibly be perceived as leaning towards a high amount IF I included everything that may possibly be used for educational purposes.
Do I have to spend this much? Not at all. But we place homeschooling high on our list of priorities, forfeiting many other luxury items because we’d much rather have a full bookshelf to choose from and great homeschooling tools to use, than cable tv, regular holidays, the latest fashions or even regular hair treatments (I can source my whole Math curriculum for the price people are paying salons to get their hair cut and coloured 🙂 ).
When we spend, we spend wisely. I make use of used book sales, I wait for sale and discount opportunities, I make a lot of my own resources, I encourage gift givers to purchase educational gifts (book vouchers or memberships are dearly loved)… and I would go to Garage sales if we were morning people…we’re not!!
So, homeschooling can fit whichever budget you have available to you. However I believe it should be neither overly cheap or ridiculously expensive. Your spending patterns should acknowledge that you value learning and wise spending.
In the early days you’ll probably spend more than is usual. It will take a while to find your happy spending medium. It’ll also take a while to build your library and resources to a point where you have the things you would like to have available to you. But there’s no rush to have it all now. Start small and manageable and build slowly.
I suppose homeschool start up is a bit like furnishing a house. It would be unwise to rush out and buy everything known to man to fill the house. People will give you things they no longer need, you can borrow things you do need but haven’t bought yet, you can buy second hand things to do the job for the moment…or perhaps permanently, it’s best to buy things slowly over time as the budget allows and it’s okay to buy a few things just because you couldn’t resist them. Every person’s home is furnished differently, according to their tastes and budgets, just as every homeschool will be resourced differently according to their desires and budgets.