Homeschooling For Dummies
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Homeschool media stories that tout homeschooling as expensive, elitist, and only for the wealthy are simply not true. The truth, which is that anyone can homeschool for nearly free if they need to, doesn’t make splashy headlines.

homeschooling costs © Ronnie Chua/

Many people manage to homeschool their children for about $500 per child, per year, on the average or less. Some swing it on $500 per family. A few manage to teach for nearly free, but they’re the truly dedicated bargain shoppers. Five hundred dollars per child, per year, is a good round figure for estimation because you can get a good number of books, supplies, and even a few extra goodies like field trips for that amount. Now, opting for a $500 budget means that your child won’t be using the coolest, newest whizbang textbooks for every subject, but it also means that you can provide a more-than-adequate education.

Set a budget for homeschooling supplies at the beginning of the year, but remember that you’re bound to pick up some fun stuff along the way. So, include that in your estimates. Setting up a reasonable budget can give you realistic boundaries while also letting you know that you can do this. Keep in mind that preschool and kindergarten are relatively cheap educational years. After you stockpile construction paper, glue, crayons, kiddy scissors, and some read-aloud books, you’re most of the way there.

As you rise through the ranks, however, books get more and more expensive, until you reach the high school level where a new science book may cost you $90 or more. With more than one child, however, your costs go down every time the next child in line uses that $90 book. Planning a $90 purchase when three children can use the book in turn gives you a sturdy text for $30 per child in the long run.

When you think about pulling your child out of a private- or public-school system, don’t forget to consider all the items that you currently pay for that will become irrelevant, such as

  • Book rentals
  • Club fees
  • School lunches
  • Tuition (for private school)
You can apply that money to the extra costs that you now have, such as textbooks and lunches at home. Even clothing costs take a dive when you realize that you can homeschool in your sweats and no longer need school-appropriate clothes for each day of the week.

If you opt for low-cost or almost-free homeschooling, you find yourself trading time and energy for the money you’d normally spend on curriculum. Trips to the library take time; you may spend hours writing math practice sheets for your first grader or searching for them on the web so you can print them out. Buying the books you need for the whole year saves you time and gas, but it means you need to fork over the money to pay for the books yourself and find a place to store them in your home.

On the other hand, families can spend as much as they like on homeschooling. I know at least one family that considers homeschooling their major spending hobby, and they have plenty of money to spend. Such a family may drop $6,000 or more per child, per year, on homeschooling, but to do that you need to purchase the most expensive curricula that you can find.

Look for curriculum ideas and resources in Homeschooling For Dummies, 2nd Edition. I could fill a 700-page book with nothing but recommendations for books and kits that you can use to teach with.

If you purchase everything mentioned, you’ll easily top the $2,000-per-child marker. No homeschool family does all this. For one thing, people only have 24 hours per day, and trying to follow all these systems and add-ons would take many times that.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Jennifer Kaufeld has nearly three decades of homeschooling experience. She is a regular speaker at state and regional homeschooling and education conferences, and frequently contributes expert advice to several communities on Facebook and elsewhere online.

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