The decision to homeschool full time doesn’t start and end with what is best for any individual child. It’s necessary to take into consideration what is best for the entire family—and part of determining what is best for the family includes weighing the financial decision to stay at home full time. Many homeschooling curriculums can be very expensive; and in addition to that, in order to homeschool, one parent may need to give up a job. This can seem daunting, especially if you aren’t even sure that homeschooling is going to work for you long-term.
Thankfully, there are a number of things that you can do to ensure that you give homeschooling the best possible chance—and to ensure that your family isn’t missing out on that additional income too much.
Consider free homeschooling options.
Programs like the Tennessee Virtual Academy are completely free, just like an ordinary public school. There are also plenty of free curriculum options available online. If your budget is a serious concern, choose from among those options.
Weigh the cost of daycare and after-school care.
There are many parents who end up working just to pay for daycare—and once they realize it, they’re quick to make some changes! If you have younger children who have previously been enrolled in daycare or left with a babysitter, bringing them home with you may be enough to balance the cost of homeschooling. Consider travel expenses to and from work, wardrobe expenses, the cost of eating lunch out a couple of times a week, and weigh whether or not giving those things up would make up for the loss in income. In many cases, it will at least come close.
Cut some corners.
Cloth diaper your infant and toddler-aged children. Cook at home instead of going out or ordering in (after all, you’ll be at home during the day to take care of more of these tasks). Drive less. There are plenty of places where you can cut a few corners with just a little bit of effort—and many of them will be better for your family in the long run anyway.
Look at what you're spending on school.
The start-up cost of homeschooling can feel prohibitive. You’ll need a curriculum, and all those supplies...just getting started feels like it’ll make a major pinch in your pocketbook. First, remember that many of those costs are one-time things. Next, consider what you’re already spending on school. Public schools send home supply lists every year that have dozens of items on them—many of which are shared among several children rather than belonging to yours alone. You also have to pay class fees, and many times, you have to replace supplies throughout the year. Then there are field trip costs, and parties, and fundraisers…how much are you already spending on school over the course of a year? Those little expenses can add up in a hurry.
Decide how much you want to do this.
If your child is being bullied at school, or is failing to thrive in a traditional school setting, or is unable to function in a traditional classroom, it may be well worth whatever sacrifices you have to make to bring them home. It will be a challenge—but in the end, it will be worth it.