The Cost to Home Educate our Children

So, I have been thinking over the last few days about Homeschooling and how we do it. A friend of mine asked me about how much it costs us, how we do it and what resources we use. She was making an inquiry for herself, for at least one of her children. Whether or not she will actually act upon her curiosity and try homeschooling remains to be seen, but the questions did get me thinking….

I mean homeschooling is a lifestyle for us. It creeps into every part of our lives and days. It is not something that we segregate from our everyday living. Okay, I mean we do sometimes sit down and do formal bookwork but we never stop learning and everything we do, we learn from.

So just how much do we spend on homeschooling? well that’s a really hard question. Even when the older two children went to public school many moons ago, we still purchased loads of encyclopedias and books for them to read. So I do not consider the reading books that we have stashed away on bookshelves everywhere and being read on a constant basis as homeschooling supplies.

Likewise the many different magazine subscriptions we get, I do not consider them to be part of our homeschooling expenses, as we would be getting and enjoying them along the way regardless also. We do use the internet quite a lot and also print large amounts of things that interest us, however again this is something we used to do even when the children where in the mainstream schooling system.

When our oldest two children did go to mainstream school, we found that they were not challenged enough and craved things like puzzles, boardgames, extra ‘work’ books, so again we do not consider many of the text or work books we purchase to be homeschool supplies. Simply for the fact we used to buy these things anyway, well before they were used for home learning. For us this shows that we would probably still be buying them now even if they ever returned to the mainstream school system.

Again art is something we have always encouraged, so art supplies, pencils, paints, craft etc are also something we would have spent money on regardless of where their education took place. Documentaries, museums, visiting places of historical significance etc too are something we enjoyed as a family well before the children started homeschooling, so the fact we pay to do some of these things now is not something we associate with purely being a homeschooling cost.

So what do we purchase that we feel is solely done for the sake of home education? This is a question I so so struggle with. So many things we use during the course of educating our children, so many things we buy and use when the children are learning, but none of them do we purchase purely for the reason of using it to learn through. No book is purchased purely so that the children learn from it. In fact all books are bought due to the children’s interests and reading enjoyment. No text book is purchased solely to educate our children. All mind bending books, puzzles, boardgames, textbooks are purchased due to the children’s request, interest or fascination.

So how much does it truly cost us to home educate our children? I honestly have to say very little – We definitely spend less than $100 per child per year on things we would not normally have purchased. We spend basically nothing now that we probably wouldn’t have spent before when the children where in mainstream schooling. Yes we spend money on books, supplies, games etc, but life before home education shows us that these expenses would have been made regardless (and have been made in the past).

But how much do we save through home education? well that is another question – with a very different answer! We save a lot of money. Some of the ways in which we achieve this is through not having to drive the children to and from school every day. We save money on not having to pay for school uniforms, we save money on not buying food specifically bought for school lunch consumption. We save money on school fees, book lists and things like maintenance and Library levies…. plus I am sure there are other ways  we save money that I have not thought of!