How do you homeschool a child on a tight budget? For cash-strapped individuals, this becomes a dilemma as there are many things to consider before you homeschool your child like books and classroom equipment. As these resources don’t come cheaply, parents have to rack their brains to think of a solution that suits their current budget and provides an optimum learning experience for their kids altogether. If you are one of those who are stuck in this situation, fret not. Here, we have you covered on the 411 of homeschooling on a budget before kickstarting your child on this learning journey.
Homeschooling vs Public Schools: Which is more expensive?
The Costs Of Homeschooling
The costs of homeschooling can range from a few hundred dollars to over $1000 per child, depending on the programs you choose. Even the cheapest homeschooling program can put the most budget-conscious parents on red alert. Also, even second-hand curriculum bought from other homeschooling parents does not come cheap either.
Most sellers sell them at a much steeper price compared to the original. Despite the many free and cheap curriculum resources available on the internet, parents have to be careful and look for the best curriculum materials instead of settling with sub-par and unrelated teaching materials.
For those who like to keep a home library, it is crucial to know that sourcing for the best quality children’s books can get pretty expensive. As hard it may seem, there are still ways to keep costs low such as reselling your children’s old books to other homeschooling parents who need them. These books can be sold at a lower price so that they will buy more in the future.
Activities and Socialization
Since homeschooling limits your child’s outside activities and socialization, parents have to compensate them by joining hands with other homeschoolers and organizing their activities such as field trips which can be pretty costly with costs incurred like transport fare and food.
Time And Energy
Parents of homeschooling kids often find it mentally exhausting and time-wasting for them to teach their kids. Most parents have to juggle it with their jobs and find the additional time to teach their child Calculus and English after coming home from a long day at work. For example, parents have to plan lessons each week, and others such as training, one-to-one assessments, and reviewing the day’s assignments. Some even have to quit their full-time jobs to homeschool their kids. Because of that, it leads to loss of income.
The Costs Of Public Schooling
Remember those pair of sneakers you always wanted for the first day of class as a child? School shopping can come in pretty costly if you have more than one kid to provide. School uniforms and shoes don’t come cheap despite your best efforts to try to stretch that dollar. Kids grow up pretty fast these days. Because of that, they will outgrow their school uniforms probably twice a year. That’s not including school uniform costs due to mishaps or just plain old wear and tear. That goes double if your child is of the rough and tumble type. In addition, school supplies do not come cheap. The list for each grade is pretty exhaustive since each child has to contribute to the classroom supply for things such as stationery items like a stack of paper and a bunch of pens. On the other hand even purchasing these items in bulk for your entire homeschooling supplies can be cheaper.
Public schools have their usual school events like school shows, fundraisers, parent nights, conferences, and fundraisers. Parents have to waste time volunteering for these events and contribute money to buy school equipment and tickets to show support for their children. These can eat into the household budget especially for families who have many mouths to feed.
Time And Energy
Public schools require a load of time and energy for busy parents. Imagine waking up early in the morning having to prepare breakfast and other things to get your child ready in time for school. Because not every parent is a homemaker who sits all day long at home and whose job is to serve and adhere to their child’s whims and needs when they go to school and get back home. So it is not easy for them to juggle work and cook breakfast for their child when they need sufficient rest before heading to work in the morning, or they might lose their jobs.
What is the minimum budget and requirements for an effective homeschooling program?
Homeschooling can cost from a few hundred to a thousand dollars depending on which program that you choose. Besides paying for its curriculum, there are also other costs to consider such as materials, field trips, extracurriculars. So, does this mean homeschooling is expensive? It all depends on the perspective as what is expensive to one family is quite reasonable to another. However, the average cost of homeschooling is a tricky one because every family has a unique homeschooling situation. For example, a special needs child with dyslexia may need additional costs such as specialized instructors or remedial reading programs. On the other hand, a regular child would find no difficulty in following a traditional curriculum.
For an effective homeschooling program, parents need to know everything from homeschool education resources to homeschool curriculum technology. For example, state requirements, different curriculum programs to online books, workbooks, CS-ROMs and, more. Each child also has a different learning style so do take note that your child does not get forced to sit through with a particular activity for a long period. The key is to be flexible and adapt to your child’s needs. For example, plenty of activities like shifting lessons from English lessons on Shakespeare to insightful discussions about the famous playwright, or paper and pencil exercises to abstract art projects ala Jackson Pollock. Nevertheless, a successful homeschooling program is a mix of interactive, animated activities, lessons, and experiences:
- Through picking out subjects that are relevant to your child’s learning style,
- Through adhering to a guided program that meets learning objectives,
- Through using tangible, creative, or technological materials to enhance learning,
- Through an engaging learning environment that includes active participation or socialization, and
- Through effective communication that works both ways via parent cum teacher and child.
The most expensive things in homeschooling and how to save money on them
Some of the most expensive things in homeschooling are books and classroom equipment. Quality books can set you back up to a few hundred dollars depending on the content and subject matter. For example, specialized books such as an Encyclopedia may typically cost more compared to a generic paperback novel. As a child progresses to the next level of learning, this means that parents need to fork out more money to buy new books for their child which in return, places a heavy financial burden on their family.
If you are thinking of buying the latest, state-of-the-art computer for your child’s online classes, think again. These pieces of technological devices can cost you up to thousands, depending on the brand and the function. Instead, why not wait for a year-end sale or promotion from the computer store where they will probably give you a big discount or throw in something extra in return for your big purchase? That way you can save a lot of money and get your best bang for the buck. If not, you can always source for second-hand items from friends or relatives that are still in good condition. For quality books, you can always use hand-me-downs from your child’s older siblings. They might not be new, but the most important thing is that they suit your child’s learning style and method. If the hand-me-downs are out-of-date, you can always do your research on the internet since there are many free and cheap resources that you can take and print out.
Best Free Resources on homeschooling
As mentioned, the best free resources on homeschooling can mostly be found on the world wide web if you know how to look at the right places such as through online homeschooling forums or websites. But first, you need to do plenty of resources and background checks to find out whether these sites are credible enough. For example, did they follow the latest homeschooling curriculum and, also do these resources fit your child’s learning style and attitude?
Below are the top three online homeschooling resources:
Khan Academy – A vast range of subjects, completely free that are curated by experts.
Duolingo – Free language learning for kids and adults alike.
826 Digital – A free resource for budding writers who plan to be the next big thing in literature.
In short, homeschooling on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to be like Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. Stretching your dollar is one thing, but the key is to strike a perfect balance in one’s savings so that your child gets a deserving education that will last for years till adulthood.