The actual costs of homeschooling can be hard to calculate (although this blogger did a good attempt at it: https://www.families.com/the-cost-of-homeschooling-vs-the-cost-of-public-school).
After all, the costs include:
- The parent(s) time and possible loss of income
- Space set aside in your home
- gas and wear and tear on a vehicle for driving kids all over the place
- library fines for all the overdue books
- memberships and admission fees for museums and zoos
- dues for homeschool groups and co-ops
- books and curricula
- art and office supplies
- science kits and lab equipment
- camps and class fees
- musical instruments and lessons
- sports equipment and registration fees
The calculation of how much it actually is costing us to choose homeschooling is further complicated by this question: how much of this would we pay for even if our kids were in public school? Sure, much would be covered by the schools, but we'd probably still be paying for private music lessons as an extra, and summer camps, and art supplies.
But it can't be denied that homeschooling and educational costs are one of the larger line-items in our family budget, and this year we needed to make a reduction in that line-item. Last year we spent $11,000 on educational expenses. This year, our goal was to make a 33% reduction. How?
I started by looking at what we had spent in the previous year and identifying "non-negotiable" expenses: math curricula, books, etc. Then we took the budget amount left after those items were covered and gave half of it to each of the kids as a discretionary educational budget for the year. They are old enough now to make their own choices, we decided.
Each of the kids are working with a $1500 budget for the year. They are researching the costs, considering their priorities, and managing a budget ... it's educational in its own right. But it's also been really hard ... mostly on me! I hate for them to miss out on ANYTHING! It's like I have FOMO for educational opportunities. A camp that I hear other parents talking about? My kids should do that! A second musical instrument? Yes! Private lessons? Give us more!
Where does that cycle of more actually get us? Tired and broke? There's a "keeping up with the Joneses" competition that we can all get sucked into, even when we start from a genuine and loving place of just wanting to do good by our kids.
My kids have not been upset or stressed over this reduced budget, and they've appreciated the feeling of empowerment to make their own choices. It's funny to realize I've been the one pushing us into over-doing and over-spending, and the kids are happy to skip the camps and the lessons. This is good for us on so many different levels!