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How Much Does It Cost to Homeschool Your Child?


I’ve been homeschooling for 13 years. I started homeschooling my 15-year-old in preschool and am now homeschooling a total of four children. The way I homeschool is not that expensive because I obtain most of my homeschool curriculum for free. So how do I do it? I share some inside information below!

The Curriculum

There are many places that you can get a curriculum depending on your beliefs. Some of the most common are the ABeka curriculum, Saxon Math, School of Tomorrow (otherwise known as A.C.E.), and Rod and Staff. This list begins with the most expensive at the top and travels down to the cheapest. Each curriculum is a great option, but they have their differences in build, technique, and, of course, cost.

ABeka Curriculum

ABeka is a great curriculum, but it’s completely teacher-led, and it is quite expensive. They do, however, have video courses as an option. The cost of the videos is more expensive, but I have spoken to many ABeka users who have told me that this curriculum is well worth it. I have also taught the ABeka curriculum at the Preschool, First Grade, and Sixth Grade levels in a Christian School setting and have found it to be phenomenal. If you have more than one or two children in higher levels, you might find it difficult to use the ABeka curriculum unless you use the video courses since it is so time-consuming.

The teacher-led curriculum ranges from close to $900 annually for First Grade to $1100 for Twelfth Grade and includes everything you need for the school year. The video courses range from a little more than $1,000 for First Grade to close to $1,350 Twelfth Grade.

Saxon Math

Saxon has a wonderful Math curriculum. It’s teacher-led as well but can be used as a student-led curriculum. Saxon explains their Math well and has plenty of practice for the children. We used Saxon Math for a few years, and the kiddos really enjoyed it. It is a bit of a pricier option, but many people find that it’s worth it. It runs between $180 and $250 annually for this subject depending on the grade level.

School of Tomorrow (A.C.E.)

School of Tomorrow is a self-paced curriculum. This means that (after Kindergarten and the initial “Learning to Read with Ace and Christi” Reading Curriculum in First Grade) the kiddos read, study, and complete their schoolwork themselves with minimal help from you. You merely supervise your kiddos while they work.

At the younger grade levels, they will need you to listen to them as they do their reading. They also may need a little more assistance with finding the answers in Science and Social Studies.

Students also grade their own work in the A.C.E. curriculum. You must grade the tests, however. You must also administer the spelling word portion of the Word Building test.

A.C.E. is pretty reasonably priced. I grew up using A.C.E., as did my husband, and we use some A.C.E. for a few of our children now (we Frankenstein curriculums together to find the best fit for each child).

Some people find that A.C.E.’s Math isn’t the best option for their children once they reach higher grade levels since it tends to not explain the problems thoroughly enough for some children.

A.C.E. runs from about $180 annually to $375 annually depending on the grade level. The higher price is for Kindergarten, as it comes complete with teacher manuals, visuals, student kit, and more. A.C.E. has a big sale once a year before school starts. You’ll want to keep your eyes and ears open.

Rod and Staff

Rod and Staff are by far the most economical of the four options, and you’re still getting the bang for your buck! Rod and Staff is another teacher-led curriculum. However, this curriculum has enough student-work time that it’s easy to school two separate children at one time. We used Rod and Staff for a few years and really enjoyed that curriculum as well. Once my third got out of Kindergarten and I added a fourth child to the mix, I had to switch to a different curriculum.

This curriculum runs from around $250 to $340 annually. However, Rod and Staff only go up to the Tenth Grade.

Saving Money on Curriculum

You can save money on this curriculum by purchasing it at a homeschool conference or state convention. Purchasing it directly from the publisher is also cheaper than buying it from other outlets. I found some of the Rod and Staff books that I used for my kiddos at a Friend of the Library Sale at our county library, so be sure to check those out as well.

Many times, you can find groups online for curriculum swaps or where homeschool parents are selling their used curriculum for cheap. This is also an option. Be sure to check the prices carefully, though. Some people try to get like-new prices for used books.

My favorite? Books you already have! Once you’ve bought your Rod and Staff, Saxon Math, or ABeka books (in some cases), you can reuse them for your other children. This is always a plus. Unfortunately, the only part of A.C.E. that you can reuse is the score keys. The lower grades of ABeka and some of the subjects in the lower grades of Rod and Staff are workbooks and cannot be reused either. However, much of the Rod and Staff and Saxon Math is reusable, as the children do not write inside the books.

Likewise, if you choose to use a reusable curriculum for your child, and if your child takes care of the curriculum throughout the year, you could resell it when you’re through with it for 50-75% of the original value. This way, you could get come of your money back and cut the costs of homeschooling.

Free Options

You don’t necessarily have to use a standardized curriculum at all! There are several great free options too. I use many free options, especially for my older kiddos.

KhanAcademy.org is available for free. It has several classes for children at all grade levels. This includes advanced placement courses for pupils in high school! Children can do their courses online or through an app on their phone or tablet.

Another good free resource is CoreKnowledge.org. This website has free resources for children from preschool through Eighth Grade.

Hippocampus.org has free classes in several subjects. This website is mainly for high school students. However, my Seventh Grader uses this for Science.

There are also parents who merely browse the library for books that fit the topic they want to study and teach their child from that book. If they want to learn about Mars for Science, Abraham Lincoln for History, and antonyms for English, that’s no problem! They just check out the appropriate books, do their reading, make crafts, do experiments, and write papers. Fun, right?

There are many other free things out there. When I was teaching my kiddos in the Preschool and Kindergarten Levels, I printed off a lot of free worksheets for the kiddos to do. There are also several free worksheets available for learning to write in both print and cursive. A simple Google search will bring up a whole library of free items. Happy searching!

Supplies

Whether you send your kiddos to school or homeschool them yourself, they still need school supplies. In fact, they tend to need more supplies when you homeschool. So, what do you need? How much of it do you need, and where can you get it for the best price?

Student Supplies

The supplies your child needs for homeschooling will depend on what curriculum your child uses and what grade level he or she is in. Here are a few things your kiddo may need:

Teacher Supplies

Your child isn’t the only one who will be needing supplies. You will be too. Here are a few:

  • Large Dry-Erase Board
  • Yearly Planner and Weekly Schedule
  • Lesson Planning Book– Not only do lesson plans make life simpler, but some states require you to have lesson plans of some sort written out as part of your homeschooling record for the year. Florida is one of those states. Tennessee, on the other hand, doesn’t care if you have them or not.
  • Attendance Records/Grades Tracker – This is another one of those things that many states require. If you record attendance and grades throughout the year, it will be much simpler than trying to play catch up at the year’s end.
  • To-Do List – There are many ways to handle a to-do list. Some people use paper. Others prefer electronic to-do lists. I like to use Trello.com for my to-do list. It allows me to organize everything exactly how I want it, drag it around how I need to, put due dates to it, and edit it at will. It’s also available on my computer or my phone interchangeably in real-time.
  • Note Pad
  • Laminator – I laminate most of the props I create for school. I remember one year, in particular, I got all my props created before school started and took everything I was laminating to the Christian School in the area to have it laminated. It ended up costing me so much that I could have bought my own laminator that year!
  • File Folders – I file all my teaching props according to subject and grade. It makes finding them for later children a breeze.
  • Accordion Folders – I use these to file my children’s tests and other school papers I’m keeping from the school year. At the year’s end, I add their grades, attendance sheets, and any other pertinent information. I then mark the accordion folder with the school year and their name and pack it away in my shed in case they want to revisit the memories or in case I’m ever called upon to present proof of having homeschooled.
  • Printer – I print things off ALL THE TIME. My husband swears it’s an addiction, but I find that many other homeschool mommies have the same “addiction.” Therefore, it might behoove you to get a good printer.
  • Extra Ink
  • Hole Punch
  • 3-Hole Hole Punch – This made my life so much simpler!
  • Pencil Sharpener – An electric pencil sharpener is an absolute life-saver when you’re homeschooling. Hand-held pencil sharpeners get lost (and broken) very quickly. An electric pencil sharpener, though, is large enough to not get lost and usually hardy enough to withstand use.
  • Red Correcting Pens – Some people disagree on the color of pen you should use. This is up to you. Red has been traditionally used throughout the generations. If you choose to use a different color, please feel free to swap that color out with whatever color you choose. Just make sure that color is bright and bold enough to not get missed on the paper among all the pencil. Regardless, get yourself plenty of that color.
  • Green Pens – This is only necessary if you’re use the A.C.E. curriculum.
  • Stapler and Staples
  • Calendar – Many people just use a wall calendar. We actually use a white board calendar, write in the month, weeks, and days every month, and add our schedule (including doctor appointments) so everyone knows what to expect.
  • Prize Box – Yes. We have a prize box. Different people use these in different ways. When my kiddos complete a test with a passing grade, they get to choose a prize from the box. They also get to randomly choose prizes from the box for working without complaining.
  • Prizes and Candy – You can’t have a prize box without prizes! And candy in the prize box? That’s a given! Other things that work great are stickers, Dollar Tree toys, awesome pencils and erasers, “gift certificates” for being able to skip on one chore, and the little prizes you can get from quarter machines. Something else I do for prizes is purchase Dollar Tree’s party favor packs and pour the open pack in there. That way, there ends of being multiple of the same prize in various colors, and no one gets left out. The kids love it!

Field Trips

Most states require that your children get in a few field trips each year. Don’t worry. When you homeschool, you can count almost anything as a field trip!

Grocery Shopping

Are you going to the grocery store? Teach them how to do the shopping, how to choose the most economical item, and how to average the amount they’re purchasing to keep a running total, check out, and pay the bill.

Hiking

We often take field trips to the Sipsey Wilderness to go backpacking and hammock camping. During these trips, the kiddos learn about nature, survival skills, animals in their habitat, and more. Your kiddos can learn the same kinds of things on hikes that you take through the woods! Make a day of a hike and make it into a field trip.

Visit a Lighthouse

There are lighthouses scattered all over the shorelines of the Great Lakes and oceans. You can find the history of most lighthouses online. While your child is getting the awesome experience of visiting a lighthouse, they’ll also be learning history.

Visit a Battleground

There are many states that have battlegrounds scattered throughout them. North Carolina and Florida are two of these states. Many of these battlegrounds are free to get into, though some do have parking fees. Most of these battlegrounds have plaques positioned around them that tell the history of the battleground and the different battles fought there.

Go to the County Fair

Many states have free County fairs every year. You only have to pay to play. You can watch the shows, look at the exhibits, and visit the animal exhibits for free. Many of these things can be made educational.

There are so many other great things you can do. When we lived in Florida, we owned a book titled, “One Tank Trips.” It had so many ideas for free and cheap field trips! Regardless of which state you live in, you can Google “ideas for cheap and free field trips in __(your area)___” or “ideas for cheap or free family vacations.”

Annual Testing

Some states require annual testing as part of the homeschooling year. This only includes a handful of states. However, you may want your child to take the ACT or SAT in High School whether they have to or not if they want to go to college. Testing typically runs around $25/child plus testing fees, which vary by the administrator.

Annual Reports

Other states, such as Florida, require you to have your child’s portfolio reviewed by a certified teacher. They, then, fill out a report and turn that into the state. You can choose, instead, to have your child complete a standardized test if you wish. The average teacher in Florida charges $25/child to fill out this report.

Not every state requires these kinds of reports. The reporting laws differ by state. To learn what the laws are for your state, click here.

Extracurricular

When children are in public or Christian School, they have the ability to be engaged in extracurricular activities, such as soccer, football, cheerleading, and photography. Some homeschooling parents also choose to have extracurricular activities for their children. Sometimes, as a homeschooling mom, you can get your child into these activities in a public school if you start seeking a spot early enough and push hard enough. However, nine times out of ten, if you want your homeschooled kiddo to be in sports, you’re going to have to pay for them to play through the county or city leagues. If you want them to learn photography or have another extracurricular activity, you’re going to have to purchase lessons for them. This is something else you’re going to need to figure into the price of homeschooling if it’s important to you or your child.

Child Care

Another thing you must consider when you’re homeschooling is child care. When your child goes to school, he or she is probably typically at school when you’re at work, or at least many of the hours that you’re at work if you have a job. However, if you begin homeschooling, you’ll need child care, or, if both parents work, one of you will need to stay home. This loss of one income will need to be factored into the cost of homeschooling. 

Perhaps you are already a stay-at-home parent. If that’s so, this shouldn’t affect your family much one way or the other.

Homeschooling Memberships

Some parents choose to use a homeschooling group rather than trying to forge the homeschooling journey alone. The most commonly used membership group is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Although they’re not necessary, they come in handy, as they equip parents with resources that make homeschooling simpler, legal information and protection, and educational consultants. The HSLDA can run as little as $12/month.

RELATED: The Benefits of Homeschooling this Year and Beyond

Annual Convention

This is another one of those goodies that some parents choose to splurge on. However, a homeschooling convention – especially one for the curriculum of your choice – really is helpful if you can attend. They are packed with information on homeschooling and on the curriculum itself. They’re also great fun and the perfect place to relax with a group of your peers. Homeschool conventions typically run about $50/person.

The Cost of NOT Homeschooling

Now that we’ve discussed what it costs to homeschool, which isn’t really much more than it costs to send your child to school if you choose to homeschool with a free or cheap option, let’s talk about the cost of NOT homeschooling. The cost of NOT homeschooling differs depending on the family and their reason for homeschooling. Let’s go through yours.

Reasons for Considering Homeschooling

There are many reasons that families choose to homeschool. Let’s start by breaking down your reason and then you can decide what toll it will take on your family to not homeschool and weigh the cost. Perhaps you’ll decide to keep your children where they are, or maybe you’ll choose to begin homeschooling. I’m not trying to sway you one way or the other. I’m trying to help you make the right decision for your family.

Medical

One reason some families begin homeschooling is medical problems. My parents pulled my sister out of school in 1993 because she was in a wheelchair and was not being properly cared for. I know that was many years ago, but parents still pull their children out today for the same reason. There are some small schools that are just not equipped to handle some disabilities.

Another medical reason some parents consider homeschooling their children over is ADHD. Children with ADHD and ADD may need more one-on-one attention to be able to focus enough on the material to learn it well. This individualized attention can be given in a homeschool classroom.

Educational

Many people believe that our public schools across the country are failing. Once the “No Student Left Behind” program was instituted, every child started to lose because it’s gotten to the point that children just get pushed through whether they understand the material or not. Yes, there are children who learn. Yes, we have great teachers in our schools. Yes, the children are smart. But many believe that the schools are not doing them justice. If you believe your child is getting left behind, you must decide whether to invest in tutors, start working more with your child at home to catch him or her up or start homeschooling.

Religious

Some people do not want their children in public schools because of what is taught within the walls – evolution, premarital sex, and more depending on the religion. If your family holds views that differ from what the school is teaching your child as fact, this may be your reason, or perhaps one of your reasons, for wanting to homeschool your child.

Family Choice

Perhaps none of the above reasons resonate with you. Maybe homeschooling is just a family choice. Perhaps your child has started to experience some bullying in school and you believe this is the right choice for him or her. Or maybe you were homeschooled and you just want to homeschool your children too. There’s nothing wrong with that! There is nothing wrong with making a decision for your family merely because you want to make that decision for your family.

The Toll on Your Child

Now, you take your reason and consider the toll NOT homeschooling your child would have on your child. That toll will be different depending on your reason. It will also vary depending on your child and how they feel about the situation. If the problem is bullying, how will your child hold up if he or she stays in that particular school? If it’s an educational decision, will your child continue to be left behind?

The Toll on Your Family

Lastly, consider the toll NOT homeschooling will have on your family. If this is an educational decision or a medical or religious decision, going against this choice could mean making a decision against your better judgment. How will that play out on your family? 

Conclusion

Homeschooling your child doesn’t have to be expensive. It can run close to the same or less than what you already pay sending your child to school between buying new clothes, new shoes, school supplies, a new backpack, daily lunches, and more. I homeschool four children, Grades 2, 4, 7, and 9, and I spend less than $1,000 on all four together. This includes everything we discussed today–supplies for the kiddos and myself, field trips, curriculum, and child care. It’s up to you to decide if the benefits of homeschooling outweigh the cost of homeschooling for your family.

Sources

  1. A.C.E. School of Tomorrow, www.aceministries.com
  2. Rod and Staff Curriculum by Subject, www.milestonebooks.com
  3. Khan Academy…, KhanAcademy.org
  4. Core Knowledge Foundation, CoreKnowledge.org
  5. HippoCampus…, hippocampus.org
  6. Homeschool Laws By State, hslda.org
  7. HSLDA…, hslda.org

Coming second only to God, mothering her four children and “wifing” are Nishoni’s true loves.

Writing pulls up close behind. Having written since she was just a little tyke, she has a file full of stories that she wrote as a first and second grader and beyond, which she hopes to turn into children’s books.
As of today, she has authored one novella, one novel, two non-fiction books, ghostwritten sixteen nonfiction books, written chapters in two other books, and published several articles, and blogs.



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