I am a fairly new homeschooling mom. I started a year and a half ago homeschooling my two boys (ages 6 and 9). I am lucky to live in a community and area that has a lot of home schoolers. When I first started out I wasn’t sure if I was going to home school for the long term, but now I know I want to home school both boys to high school. I have been kind of, going along –picking up stuff here and there — but I would like to really get a true sense of how much homeschooling cost. Could you share how much it cost you to home school, along with any money saving advice.
Counting My Costs,
Sarah, in Florida
Thank you for the question. It is a question that I get asked a lot and one I certainly struggled to figure out when I was first starting. I am not too sure you are going to like my answer, every home school is different–and thus it is very hard to say how much it cost to home school. I can say that there are ways to keep expenses down, like using the library, for instance.
I will describe my process (it took some years for me to get in a groove).
In February I start my planning process for the next school year. I go child by child and write out the subjects I am planning to teach and the resources that I have on hand. I try to start in February because it takes me a long time to finish the work and I like to have everything finalized by June.
My sister and I home school together and we collaborate about curriculum choices. Her children are older than mine. We actually refer to her home as the “Upper Campus” and mine as the “Lower Campus”. What is really great about this arrangement is my kids inherit their books. Our kids do not write in their books because they know that it will be passed down to the next child (except workbooks). This helps a ton when it comes to keeping my costs low. When I get the books (usually in late June), I grade level the books out and put them in clear containers with the grade marked.
In addition to curriculum costs, I also account for any classes outside of me that the girls participate in. I include everything from ballet to tutors, because it all is part of their program as far as I am concerned.
I also note the cost related to any home schooling groups and co-ops we belong to as well as field trips (or learning adventures as we call them) I know I want to make.
The last thing I add are all the ‘little costs‘ such as construction paper, glue, staplers, paper, pencils, etc.
For us the numbers tend to look something like this, the total covers all three girls for a year:
Curriculum Materials: $350.00
Specialized Classes (ballet, art, music, etc.) & Learning Adventures: $4,000
Little Things (paper, pencils,etc.): $300.00
Once I have a preliminary budget, Khari and I meet and go over it. It is always so helpful to me to sit with him and get his perspective about things.
Saving Cost Tips:
1. Recycle books. You stated that you live in a home school friendly neighborhood/community–reach out to folks and see if there is anyone that would like to swap materials.
2. Use the library. I confess, I am not a library user. I have never been good at returning books on time (I know…) but hopefully, you are not like me and you can save a lot of money this way.
3.Stick with the Same Curriculum. There is always going to be a better, newer curriculum advertised. The best curriculum is the one that you spend time with as curriculum is only a resource. My sister and I work hard in the beginning to pick curriculum we think will work, and then, we stick to it. A perfect curriculum just doesn’t exist. Find one that you feel like you can support the best.
4. Create a Separate Spending Account. This helps us a lot as it helps me to plan and monitor my spending.
I have not finished this process for the upcoming school year yet. In fact, your email has given me the motivation I need to get myself moving. I do promise to send you my budget planning sheet once I have a good working first draft. Next year, I am also hoping to budget for a planning retreat…someplace nice where I can mix work with relaxation!
I sure hope this helps you, please let me know if you have any other questions.
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