We Can’t Afford to Homeschool, But…
If I had a quarter for every time I’ve said or heard, “I wish we could homeschool, but we can’t afford it,” affordability for our family wouldn’t be an issue. That phrase, whether in reference to curriculum or living on one income, is one of the most common responses to the “we can’t homeschool” conversation. We get it.
If a family is living off two incomes, the idea of pairing down to one can be daunting, seemingly impossible. Even if you’re used to one income, concerns of curriculum costs and extracurricular activities expenses can quickly squelch the conversation. We’ve talked about homeschooling since our son entered kindergarten seven years ago, but those concerns coupled with the tremendous responsibility to teach our children academically always sent us back to the perceived safety of our public school.
As it often happens, when we refuse to step out in faith by our own volition, God provides the circumstances to “push us out of our comfortable nests.” Our youngest had been in daycare three days a week so I could work at the non-profit my husband and I started after the death of our daughter. While my salary was minimal to none, I was and am passionate about grief awareness and creating support networks for the bereaved. However, as our toddler grew, she became more expressive about her need to be at home with me. She became so anxious and discontent that I resigned as director of our non-profit to be at stay-at-home-mom for the first time in our children’s lives.
When we made the decision for me to be at home late last summer, we offered to homeschool our rising 3rd and 6th graders. They had asked every year prior, so it was no surprise they decided to give it a try.
My husband has owned his own business for more than seven years. Sometimes it has covered our monthly expenses; other times it hasn’t. Now we’re in the throes of homeschooling, and it looks like he will be looking for a new line of work.
We can truly say we can’t afford to homeschool in an economical sense. We also know beyond a doubt that this is the right path for our family. We are confident in God’s provision to lead us to the right income streams to successfully provide for our family. He’s already blessed us in so many ways, including being part of the Homeschool Review Crew. If we’d waited until we could afford it, we most likely would never have taken the opportunity. We would also have robbed ourselves of the blessing of walking by faith and experiencing being met by God along the way.
If you’re considering homeschool, here are some financial components to consider.
- Curriculum can range from free to very expensive.
- There are so many curriculum options, it’s hard to know where to start. Research the different methods of homeschooling first, then choose a curriculum based on that method.
- Utilize the public library. You can build a great a curriculum base using carefully selected books and resources for free.
- Having your children at home all the time means providing all the meals and snacks, which quickly adds up. Plan ahead for mealtimes. We aim for simple, healthy, inexpensive lunches.
- We have very few childcare options. Consider what that will look like if the parent or one child has an appointment or activity that siblings can’t attend.
- There are many educational and field trip opportunities free or low cost specifically for homeschool families.
- Take advantage of free apps to add elements to your homeschool. For example, we love geocaching. You can utilize the basic free version, which provides plenty of fun and adventure, or subscribe for even more adventure.
What are considerations you would add?
What additional questions would you ask?
Yes, homeschooling can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. The sacrifices of frugality build character and faith for the whole family, and the rewards of redeemed time and stronger relationships with your children are priceless.
Memoirist Regina Cyzick Harlow was in the Old Order Horse and Buggy Mennonite church and allowed only a formal eighth-grade education. She landed her first paid writing gig at the Daily News~Record in Harrisonburg, VA with just the general education diploma she earned as a young adult. She and her family live and homeschool in Virginia.
Regina co-founded the Sadie Rose Foundation with her husband, a non-profit organization providing peer support for those grieving the death of a child.There she has spent twelve years creating newsletter content and workshops, empowering grievers to more clearly communicate their suffering and helping supporters become better friends. She manages the family website at www.theharlowhearth.com