7 Costs of Homeschooling – Home School Curriculum, Programs & Books

Homeschool CostsMy child has not turned one yet, but my husband and I say it is never too early to start thinking about his education. This includes everything from his primary schooling to budgeting for a 529 college savings plan. One option that we have been considering is homeschooling. The main reason it appeals to us is because it puts us, and not the government, in control of our child’s education. However, one of our concerns is how much it costs to homeschool. Homeschool supplies and curriculum costs are just the beginning, and we have discovered hidden costs as well.

Here are 7 expenses you should keep in mind if you are considering homeschooling your child:

1. The Curriculum
This expense can be huge or negligible depending on how you go about it; I asked several homeschooling families how much they spend on curriculum, and they quoted me everything from $0 to thousands of dollars. The families that pay nothing for the curriculum do have to put in extra work, however. One of my friends said that her mother paid almost nothing to homeschool her three children by customizing units of study herself based on her children’s interests. For example, if they were interested in airplanes, the children would read about the science of airplanes, write a story about planes, read autobiographies of pilots, and draw pictures of planes. On the flip side, families who paid in the thousands bought expensive standardized homeschooling packages that required a lot less preparation by the parents, but also were not as customized.

Additionally, children can enroll in independent studies which can add several hundred dollars to the curriculum costs. However, if for example, you as the parent are weak in math and science, this could be a wise investment. There are also virtual schools that offer advanced courses online at a reasonable price, and even free online college courses. The Florida Virtual School, for example, is free to Florida residents. Some states even offer free Dual Enrollment, in which a high schooler can take classes at a local college for both high school and college credit.

2. Supplies and Equipment
I went to a public school, and I remember always coming home on the first day of school with a long list of supplies I was told I needed. Between my sister and me, my parents would easily spend up to a hundred dollars a year on school supplies. So really, saving money on back-to-school supplies shopping is a concern whether your child attends a traditional school or is homeschooled; the items that parents buy for their children for homeschooling, such as books, puzzles, and art supplies, would similarly be purchased for kids who attended traditional schools.

As for equipment, there are some things that are beneficial to have on hand for homeschooling. These items include a computer, scanner, and printer. Of course, these items are found in most homes already. But families will need some less common items as well, such as a globe, microscope, and science kits, but these can be bought used or shared in a homeschooling group to cut down on the cost. This is equipment that would normally be found in most public schools, so it is certainly an additional cost.

3. Homeschool Group Dues
If you’re part of a homeschooling group, depending on what type of group you belong to, dues can run anywhere from around $100 to over $1,000. It all depends on what is included in group membership. If the group is more of a co-op, meaning it is run by volunteers, the cost will be lower than if it is run by professionals. Being a part of a group will help give your child a great opportunity to socialize with other children and give your child a greater variety of teachers from which to learn.

4. Field Trips
No matter where your child goes to school, there will be field trips. I remember going on public school trips to places like Sea Camp, which cost hundreds of dollars. As with supplies, the costs of field trips (such as to a museum, zoo, or aquarium) are usually no different for homeschooled children.

5. Extracurricular Activities
Homeschooled children generally have more time for extracurricular activities, such as dance, sports, and music lessons, and they are important for socialization as well. Of course, classes and activities all cost money. While your child would probably be involved in these activities anyway, you may end up paying for more extracurriculars than you would if your child were in public or private school.

6. Transportation
Since homeschooled kids need to be transported to their various activities and field trips, and you are that transportation, this is a cost to keep in mind. Gas and “wear and tear” on the car do add up, and it can especially be a challenge if you are trying to save money by being a one car family.

7. Lost Income
Another cost to consider is that of having a parent stay home with the kids instead of working. Depending on the family situation and income potential, this “cost” can be minimal or substantial. It is certainly something to plan out before going down the homeschool route, including developing a realistic single-income budget.

Final Word

All things considered, the costs of homeschooling are pretty straightforward. While there are certain unavoidable expenses, it is also up to the parents how much or how little they are able and willing to spend. Also, many of the costs of homeschooling are no different than the costs that would arise had you opted for traditional schooling.

Do you homeschool your children or are you considering it? Have you encountered any hidden costs that I haven’t mentioned?

(photo credit: Amanda Munoz)

  • http://nfahm.blogspot.com Andrea

    Homeschooling costs what you decide you can afford for it. For instance, for core courses, math, science, language arts, history, we typically pay under $100.00 for textbooks on Amazon.com… for high school level kids.

    We pay out the nose for homeschool electives, because we have decided it was important to us. But, if we were to find ourselves financially strapped, I am aware of places where they could have similar electives classes for far less… Yes, I would have to volunteer more, but homeschooling costs can always be managed.

    • Casey Slide

      Thank you for your insight and story from personal experience, Andrea. I did not realize that electives cost more. I agree that electives are very important!

  • http://nofightingnobiting.blogspot.com kat

    But think of the savings by homeschooling such as buying school supplies at Walmart in August when crayons are $0.20 and notebooks are $.010 as opposed to HAVING to purchase fancy/expensive notebooks and binders because that is what some ps teacher dictated all the children must have. Another savings is not having to buy the latest fashions for your children so they will fit in. My kids certainly don’t mind me going to the thrift store and buying their clothes. Field trips can be managable if you buy a family pass for a year to one museum or zoo and really investigate all its resources or go on free days (our local very expensive art museum is free on Wednesdays, not something that is easy to manage if they are in school until 3pm, but simple if you can go at 10am).

    • Casey Slide

      Great point! School supplies can be expensive if you need something specific, such as a graphing calculator. Saving on fashion is a good one too…particularly in the middle school and high school years. Thanks, Kat!

    • proudmommieof2

      The way I see it is this. Who cares about the latest fashion or fitting in. My kids aren’t going to school to fit in they are going for educational reasons. So what if the kids don’t like her fashion sense. The way I was taught was this. If a kid picks on you because of the way you look it’s because they are jealious. My dad always said this ” The reason the kids are picking on you is because they are jealious of what you have and what you can do. Their parents spends 100-300 on a pair of shoes, pants and a shirt. I pay 20.00 on a pair of shoes and 50.00 on 6 shirts and 3-4 pairs of pants. And I am able to take you and your sister out to the river, go out shopping and buy you things that those parents can’t afford to do.” Parents these days and even back in the 90s were so up on throwing money away they couldnt afford to do fun things. Plus the kids normally ran their stuff out after a week or 2 where mine would last a year or 2 or until i out grew them.
      Then it was passed down. Parents don’t think that it’s stupid to waste money on clothes when there kids will out grow them in 6 months and have to blow that same amount on new clothes. I am smart I live in walmart. I spent this time around when I had the money 200 on everything. I bought 6 outfits each, 3 packs of undies for my oldest 2 packs for my youngest, 2 packs of socks for them both, a shirt, skirt and a dress for myself 2 packs of underwear for my husband and a pack of socks for him.Plus a pair of shoes for my daughter.
      Fashion is a stupid media stunt to get people to waste money on cheap labor factory clothes where the women who make them earn barely no money and get no sleep. Just my opinion, Goodwill, Dollar General,Family dollar and Walmart are the best places for fashion :)

  • proudmommieof2

    I am considering home schooling my daughter who is 7. I am out of work but I can’t afford to put my daughter through the heart ache and suffering each year.
    I am trying to find out how much it would cost to get her into home schooling. I could teacher her what the school is. There is plenty to do around my own home. We can have a field trip out in my own yard. We have woods so we can learn about the different trees, birds, bugs and leaves. Even mushrooms and grasses too. I am worried about cost due to the fact I have no income. We live in a small town called Monticello it’s about 28 miles from Tallahassee. Our problem is we don’t have the money for gas so we couldn’t take trips to museums or anything like that till I got the money. I really want to get my daughter into school at home because I understand her problems. I understand her needs. I want to be there to provide her education because I know her better than anyone else out there.
    Her education is important to me, I don’t want her to be denied this but I won’t allow a school to bully her or make her out to be a bad child because she’s an independent, artisic, and very self consience little girl. I have always wanted to home school her but my husband is also worried about our phone. Which I am told I must have for homeschooling. I don’t know anything about it so I am learning as I go.
    Any suggestions on where I can learn more on home schooling? My daughter starts public school on Monday and I want to start asap on home schooling this year. Maybe when she finds her voice and is able to tell me she is ready for homeschooling.