Is homeschooling expensive? That’s a common question and something that is to be considered when deciding upon your methods. Yes, home education can be extremely expensive if you want to travel, do extra-curricular activities, loads of field trips, etc. However, home ed does not need to be expensive and many people do it on a shoestring budget (we certainly spend less on homeschooling than many people would be paying for a school uniform, or indeed, school lunches). Here are some things to consider as you decide how you will set your homeschooling budget.
Home Ed and Lost wages
This is a hidden cost of home education as the majority of homeschooling families do not have two full-time working parents, so this may be something that you want to consider. For some families this may not be a concern, but for other families this requires some consideration. Of course, home education does not require learning to be done between specified hours; it can be done around shift-work, in the evenings, and on weekends.
In our case, Phil works full-time, working one day a week from home (so we plan our days so that the kids generally do more table-work in the kitchen on that day). I work mostly after the kids have gone to bed which means I’m often tired, but the kids don’t mind a little later start in the mornings on days when I’m running on a low tank. (In fact, they’re now getting to the age that they are becoming self-starters and strangely sometimes even set their alarm earlier than usual so they can get a jump on their lessons and have more free time later in the day!) Our field trips tend to be on weekends or when Phil takes vacation days.
Depending on the age and abilities of your children, what works (or doesn’t) now, is likely to change in the future, so keep this in mind and go with the flow.
Home Ed Curricula
This is generally the most expensive part of home education. You can buy a ‘boxed curriculum’ with everything you need for the year and laid out for you. This does tend to be the most expensive way to go, but it takes out the guess-work and planning time.
You can piece together curricula by using different companies for different subject to achieve the best fit for your children’s interests and learning styles.
There are also some smaller, independent homeschool companies and teachers that sell lessons online via their own websites or through places such as TeachersPayTeachers.
Home Ed Free Resources
There are many ways that you can homeschool many subjects for free. Our first port of call is always the library; we use the books, sign up for talks and activities, and they also have computers with free internet access.
There are hundreds of websites that offer free lessons and worksheets, and some even offer online programs for free (these ones will often contain family-friendly advertising – if you don’t want the ads, then you will pay a small fee). A few of these include, ESA Grammar Planet, WordBuild, etc.
Do a search on Facebook for home ed sell/swap groups in your area to find some great deals on second-hand books, manipulatives, and lesson plans. I know in some areas of the USA they have big meetups and sell their resources, or even do swaps or give their unwanted items away. It’s great to know your used curriculum has found a good home, and it’s even better to put those funds from items you’ve sold towards something new to you!
And don’t forget to check out my post on Free Home Education Resources in the UK, and a guest post on 5 Ways to Homeschool Frugally; Advice From An Experienced Mom.
Create Your Own Curriculum!
Let’s not forget that you can create your own curriculum using free printables online and books you already own or can source from the library. You can design an entire unit study lesson in a particular subject, or a year’s worth of lessons for next to nothing! This option does take more time and effort than a boxed curriculum, but it totally doable!
In fact, you could even make some money from creating good quality printables that other homeschool families can use! If this appeals to you but you don’t know how to get started, check Monique’s DIY Printables for Teachers and Homeschoolers Course (use the coupon code: 10offDIYP to save $10)!
Some homeschoolers will give ‘experiences’ to their children in lieu of birthday gifts, etc. So an outing to the zoo, aquarium, or science centre that might be too expensive to go to, might be able to be squeezed in as part of a family outing. We’ve done this in the past (it’s even better when you can get discounted tickets on deal sites) and they’ve really made for memorable experiences!
Don’t forget the more ‘mundane’ experiences of shopping for groceries, home diy (from big renovations to learning how to remedy a dripping tap), mending socks, and getting a closer look at flowers, plants, trees, and wildlife on daily walks.
Home Education can cost many thousands of dollars, if you have the means, but it can also be done on a shoestring budget with a little creativity and determination! Just remember to never compare your family to another; each homeschooling situation is unique, and that’s one of the wonderful things about it, and besides…isn’t one of the reasons we home educate is because we don’t our children to be the same as the rest of the population!