The Costs of Homeschooling

One of the hidden costs of homeschooling is time.  It takes a lot of time and focus to properly homeschool, which makes working a full-time job difficult.  There are, however, many homeschooling moms (or dads) that work part-time or seasonal jobs.

HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) estimates that homeschooling families spend approximately $300 to $600 per year, per child, on educational needs.  This can really add up!  There are ways, however, to save money…

Curriculum

The biggest chunk of change you’ll notice right away is the cost of curriculum.  There are so many different types of curricula out there that we recommend doing a little bit of investigation before investing money into one. 

If you have access to one, attending a homeschool convention is an excellent way to get your hands on several types of curricula, flip through the pages, and see which ones will or won’t work for your family.  Personally, when we started homeschooling, my husband and I started ruling out which ones we didn’t like for our family, as that helped narrow down the shortlist to about six that we wanted to check into further.

You can check curriculum websites for samples, often full-module downloads to try out you’re your family.  If you’re near Oklahoma, you can come by the Book Shack and take home some different types of curricula to try.   Mardels or a used bookstore are also good options for this, though you won’t be able to take them home (free) to try out with the kids.

If you choose curriculum carefully, you should be able to reuse it for subsequent children or resell it.  For example, we use Saxon Math and only had to purchase each textbook once.  We purchased one student book for each child to use (and could have had them write on notebook paper, but student books aren’t that expensive, and it was easier for the kids to write in the books).

Co-ops, Classes & Extracurricular Activities

Foreign language, homeschool band, physical education, debate classes – these are things that work best when taught in a group setting, and are often covered in cooperative settings…but that costs money.  It is, however, cheaper than weekly lessons!

For some families, especially at the high school level, science or math classes get outsourced to a ‘real teacher.’  Not everyone feels comfortable teaching at those advanced levels, particularly for a child who is preparing to attend college.

All of these expenses cost money, but should be included in the homeschooling budget, because they are a necessary part of education.

Field Trips

When we were roadschooling, nearly 90% of our homeschool budget went toward field trips.  After all, if you’re only going to be visiting a place once, you make the most of it, right?

We still spend money on field trips each year because experiential learning is a fantastic way to cement concepts and foster a love of learning!  There are many options for frugal and free field trips if you just dig a bit. 

  • Follow your local museums on Facebook, and you’ll see when they post free days for educators, homeschoolers, families, or just the general public. 
  • Visit the fire station, police station, or town mayor for a lesson in civics and emergency management. 
  • Visit a local factory to learn “how it’s made.”  
  • Take a step back, and look at your area like a tourist.  What nooks and crannies have you yet to explore?  Many of these small places are free or frugal!

Experience is Valuable

Most new homeschooling families spend more money than experienced ones.  This is partly due to needing to purchase curriculum and all of the materials upfront (whereas more experienced ones tend to have leftovers on hand, or purchase in bulk during back-to-school sales). 

Another pitfall is purchasing several different types of curriculum.  Sometimes things don’t work out as intended; sometimes they’re just not a good fit for your family.  Many times, new homeschoolers aren’t ‘in’ on where to get curriculum at a reduced price.

Finding those Resources

  • The Book Shack – The upstairs ministry of Homeschool House, the Book Shack has been providing families with FREE curricula and materials since 1999 (originally named the Book Samaritan).  Find out more about requesting materials, or visiting, here.
  • Bibliomania – This homeschool consignment store is one of the Book Shack’s biggest supporters, and we love to support them, too!  They have a walk-in store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where you can come and visit with the proprietors and thumb through all kinds of curricula.  They also have an online store at Amazon.  You can also call the store directly, or private message through Facebook, and have the option to pay with Paypal or credit card over the phone.
  • ChristianBook – If you hit ChristianBook at the right time (sign up for the email list, and they’ll tell you when this is), you can get curricula at deep discounts.  They also have books, craft kids, home décor and stuff for adults, and (my favorite!) “surprise boxes” — $100+ in books for only 9.99. 
  • Amazon – Not surprisingly, since they sell everything but the kitchen sink (actually, the probably sell those, too!), Amazon is a great resource for finding books, supplies, science kits, craft kits, and even curricula…sometimes at cheaper costs since you can buy them from a third-party vendor.
  • SchoolhouseTeachers.com – This online resource offers all core classes, plus several electives, for every grade level…up to adult learners!  Use code TRIAL to get the first month for only $5. By doing so, you’ll have an automatic, ongoing monthly discount but also will get your first MONTH as a member for only $5. If you don’t love it, just cancel it after the first month and all you will have lost is a skinny latte.  Find out more about ST here.
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