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Parents considering homeschooling often wonder about the cost. “How much does it cost to homeschool?” is a question that pops up frequently in homeschool Facebook groups.
It is a legitimate worry among new homeschool parents. The problem is that most people decline to actually answer the question. Instead they say, “It varies” or “It depends on how you homeschool”. Those answers are absolutely correct. It does vary. It does depend on your homeschool style. No two homeschool budgets will be identical.
People want actual real numbers though.
Finances are one of those subjects that people tend to shy away from. In most situations I do too. However, I want to help homeschool families. If reading my real homeschool budget helps, then I’m willing to share.
Homeschool budgets come in all sizes. There are families that homeschool completely for free and there are families that spend multiple thousands of dollars for each child. Pretty much everyone spends less than public schools though. The average public school in the United States spends $11,392 per student!
How Much Does It Cost to Homeschool?
A Little Background . . .
To put my homeschool budget into context you need to know a little about my family. We recently finished our 8th year of homeschooling. This upcoming fall my daughter will begin 9th grade and my son will start 6th grade.
We are eclectic homeschoolers. This means that I do not conform to one educational philosophy. Instead, I pick and choose the parts of each philosophy that work best for my family. We take what works for us and leave the rest. I am fortunate that I do not need to be very budget conscious when choosing educational items, but I am naturally a deal shopper and try to find the lowest price of my chosen items.
I like to use great books, hands-on activities, and field trips to enrich my children’s education whenever possible.
There are four main parts to a homeschool budget:
- School supplies and educational materials
- Field trips
Cost of Homeschool Curriculum ~ $596
The expense of homeschool curriculum is the first cost of homeschooling that comes to mind for most people. Most of the yearly curricula is purchased within just a month or two, making it felt by the checkbook. I will break down all of the curricula that I used this past year for both of my children.
Math Mammoth – $30 My son worked through both Math Mammoth 5A and 5B this year.
All About Spelling – $20 My daughter used All About Spelling for years, so I was able to reuse the teacher guide. I only needed to purchase a new student kit for my son on this level.
WriteShop – $83 I was able to find the teacher manual at a used curriculum sale, so I only need to purchase the Time-Saver Pack (I highly recommend buying this if you use WriteShop) and the Activity Pack.
Marine Biology – $70 I couldn’t find a marine biology curriculum that I liked, so I created my own.
History of Chocolate – $10 Our history was entirely interest led this year. I checked most of our chocolate books out of the library, but I did buy one.
History of Video Games – $33 My husband (my in-house tech expert) chose 3 books to make up the spine of our video game history course.
Geography – $0 We studied geography with our local homeschool co-op, YouTube, and library books
5th grade curriculum total = $309 + $25 end of year test
Math Mammoth – $30 My daughter used Math Mammoth 7 (pre-algebra) A and B.
Interactive Notebook -$10 We used this as a supplemental activity for my hands-on learner.
Hands-On Equations – $38 This hands-on algebra instruction made a huge difference in understanding algebraic principles.
All About Spelling – $40 We already have a set of letter tiles and card storage boxes, so I only needed to buy the materials for this specific level.
WriteShop – $56 My daughter moved on to WriteShop II midway through the school year, so I purchased a new student workbook. Luckily the teacher guide is the same for levels I and II.
Hake Grammar – $63 I purchased this level from Rainbow Resources too.
Marine Biology – $0 Technically this wasn’t free, but I used the curriculum with my son and daughter, so I only had to buy the books once.
History of Chocolate – $0 I read the books aloud, so we only needed to buy one set.
History of Video Games – $0 My son and daughter used the same books.
Geography – $0 My daughter also participated in our homeschool co-op geography class.
8th grade curriculum total – $237 + $25 end of year test
Cost of School Supplies and Materials ~ $80
I don’t count the cost of school supplies such as glue sticks, printer paper, and pencils. Those things are not terribly expensive and would need to be purchased if my kids were in public school too.
In this category I count educational materials such as items specifically needed for a lesson.
Honestly, I didn’t keep very good track of this category. Science experiments and hands-on history lessons made up the bulk of my educational expense category. Looking back over everything we did this year I am going to estimate we spent $80 on projects.
Cost of Homeschool Field Trips ~ $420
I love field trips, so we take them quite often. This year we went to:
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences– $0 This museum is close to home and free, so we went a few times.
North Carolina Museum of History – $0 The history museum is right next to the science museum, so we usually go to both on the same visit.
Museum of Life and Science – $170 We purchased a family membership, so we visited the museum a few times.
North Carolina Museum of Art – $0 The main art gallery and the outdoor exhibits are free, but we received a gift membership at Christmas. This membership gives us access to special exhibits.
Colonial Williamsburg – $233 We visited Colonial Williamsburg during their spring Homeschool Days event. This total includes multi-day admission for 3 plus two nights in a hotel, but it doesn’t include food. I need to feed my kids regardless, so I don’t include food in the cost of field trips.
Jamestown – $36 Jamestown is right down the road from Colonial Williamsburg, so we visited on our last day in Williamsburg. They offer an unadvertised homeschool rate with proof (I used a copy of our letter of intent).
Hilton Head Beach – $0 A beach trip fit in perfectly with our marine biology curriculum. Thankfully, my husband’s family lives very close to the beach so we were able to stay with them and make this a free field trip.
North Carolina Zoo – $17 Our science museum membership also gives us 50% off zoo admission.
Cost of Homeschool Activities ~ $165
This category is tricky. What counts as a homeschool activity and what counts as just a parenting or family expense? After all, we would still enroll our children in sports if they were in public school. We enjoy doing things together as a family and I can’t imagine that being different if my kids were in a different school setting.
I chose to only include activities that either happen during traditional school hours or include our homeschool social groups.
Rock climbing – $90 We went to homeschool rock climbing hour a few time with a few different homeschool groups.
Art classes – $75 My daughter is usually the only one who takes art classes, but my son tried it out once.
Total cost of homeschool for the 2018-2019 school year = $1,261
Personally, I think this total is pretty reasonable for two children. As a comparison, our local private school would have cost us $12,000 in tuition.
I expect that next year’s totals will be fairly similar. The only real difference I predict is that my son and daughter are not going to overlap subjects, so the cost of curriculum will probably rise a bit.
How much do you spend each year on homeschool related expenses?
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