When people talk about teaching their children from home in the absence of any definite or structured curriculum, it is perhaps natural to think that homeschooling is cheap. But this is far from the truth. Although homeschooling does not stick to any particular text, this is perhaps more of a bane than a boon, when it comes to finance.
When you need to make sure that your children receive state-of-the-art education so that they can compete with regular school goers, expenses will naturally mount. The actual cost of educating a child at home is surprisingly high. Up-to-date textbooks, course materials, a library, computing equipment, lighting, specially designed furniture all cost money. In this case, the cost may be slightly lesser when it comes to homeschooling the second child. Add to this any additional tuition cost for tutors who come to teach subjects that cannot be handled by parents, like higher-level math or science. The total cost can be a bit mind boggling.
If you take another important factor into consideration, homeschooling costs may effectively triple. The need for having one of the parents tied to the house and fully dedicated to providing education deprives the family of a second earning member. The average homeschooling teacher is usually a lady with a college degree. This means that she can easily bring home a pay of $35,000 or more. It is also interesting to note that most families that have more than 2 children do not opt for homeschooling at all.
But, there are those who have been successful in carrying out homeschooling at low rates. This is dependent on the size of the family, the support group, the type of materials used and the availability of the material. When successive children can reuse the materials, cost goes down. Much of the course material can be gotten from vendors of homeschooling materials. A membership in a public library, theater, concerts, ballets and other cultural events also help in cutting costs. Sometimes, it is even possible to barter expertise. For instance, the mother of an 8-year old gives dancing classes, and her daughter receives drawing classes for free.
There are many more practical ways in which to save money through homeschooling, for example:
- You do not have to drive your children to and from school. Getting to school is as easy as walking downstairs.
- You are able to avoid the cost of clothes brought on by the dress code (some private schools) and by peer pressure. You save money as your kids go to school in their play clothes.
- You do not have to buy lunch and you even save money on packing a lunch since lunch at home does not require a lunch box, sandwich bags, beverage container or even the proverbial "brown bag".
- This is the obvious cost savings over private schools.
- School supplies
- Your kids share school supplies and many of the things that they use are items that you may already have around the house.
- Vacation and travel
- Because you are not bound by the school year, you are able to travel at "off peek" times of the year. You can save a lot of money by booking flights on week days or staying in hotels on school nights.
But whatever the cost, advocates of homeschooling say that the benefits far outweigh these considerations. When you are able to decide what knowledge your child receives and when he or she should be taught and to what extent, it gives you a lot of freedom and a lot of power. Both the children as well as the parents benefit from this mutually enriching experience.
If you are interested in reading more on this topic, please read: Homeschooling and College.