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Homeschooling as a Money-Saving Choice

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By Rhonda Barfield

My husband Michael and I homeschool our four children. We had kids late, after 13 years of marriage, and we made the decision to homeschool our first-born, Eric, while he was still in the womb.

For other parents, the choice is not so easy. I won’t presume to say whether public, private or home school is best for your family. However, if financial considerations are an important aspect of your decision, you may want to consider homeschool. Here’s why.

  1. Homeschool costs are considerably lower than private school costs. Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, surveyed more than 1500 homeschooling families. He found an average annual expenditure of approximately $450 per child. Compare $38 a month total homeschool costs to private school tuition alone of, let’s say, $300 to $1400 a month (the average range in my city). Add in the cost of driving or carpooling children to school and other expenses, and there’s a substantial yearly difference between the amount of money spent on homeschool versus private school.
  2. Homeschool costs may actually be about the same as public school costs. You can spend a lot of money, and load up on expensive homeschool curriculum and all sorts of flashy extras. On the other end, some parents simply sign up for a library card (and take out dozens of books each week, as we do), buy used curriculum, scout for writing paper and games at garage sales, and make low-cost family outings into field trips. Michael and I spent about $500 total on all four of our children’s education last year*, and be assured, we didn’t deny them one opportunity. Another small point: homeschooling parents don’t have to buy their kids designer jeans to wear to school.
  3. Though homeschooling is challenging, it’s not as difficult as some parents think. After all, don’t mothers and fathers already teach their children many important concepts, like the alphabet, Bible songs, and good manners (to name only a few)? If so, parents can surely teach reading and math, too, or find a book that can. Used curriculum—so detailed that it tells you every word to say when teaching—is available. So are tutors, CD-ROM encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources. Parents often learn right along with their students.

Prospective homeschoolers must ask themselves many questions, including ones related to finances. Some of the answers may be negative. However, the answer to “Can I afford to homeschool?” is very positive: Definitely yes!

This article is reprinted with permission of Money Matters, a newsletter published by Crown Financial Ministries, 601 Broad Street, SE, Gainesville, GA 30501.

Rhonda Barfield is the author of Real-Life Homeschooling: The Stories of 21 Families Who Teach Their Children at Home, Feed Your Family for $12 a Day, and 15-Minute Cooking. For more information, visit Simon Says.

*If you'd like to know specifics of how Rhonda keeps homeschool costs low, email her through her website.

Copyright ©  2004 Eclectic Homeschool Association

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