More discussion on the homeschool issue

By Stew


There were so many questions from yesterday’s post on Homeschool Finance, that I decided to do a follow-up post today and explain a few things:

Mike asked: Have you calculated the option cost of having your spouse at home teaching your children instead of working full time or part time?

Good question. My wife stays home with the kids and actually makes money by watching other children in our home. Some of you will remember that Mrs. Stew almost worked outside the home this year, but we were going to get free tuition/preschool for our children as a benefit to her job. At the last minute we decided that she would stay home. I doubt whether Mrs. Stew could get a job that would justify the up front expense of work clothes, a second car, child care, etc. and still bring in money. Providing child care in our home has been great for our finances.

Given the ages of our children, I think that a stay at home wife is overall a cost savings. That might change as they move into junior high and high school.

Greg stated: The one thing you left out was the cost of home school curriculum. This can be very pricey. The savings on clothing (you still have to buy clothes), transportation (field trips, library visits), and food (you don’t need to buy lunch at school and you can use reusable containers) is negligible to the cost of the curriculum.

The truth is that our curriculum is free! Our state provides a free online curriculum and so far, my wife and I have been pleased with it . . . well, it is not free . . . might be more accurate to say that it is paid for by the good tax payers of our state. The online curriculum provides a schedule and accountability. Yes, we do have to buy clothes, but they definitely do not get the wear and tear that school brings. There are some transportation costs to field trips – but only once or twice a month – and the library is within walking distance. My intent was not to list all of the expenses due to homeschooling, but rather just a list of the ways that we save money.

Gina’s question was interesting: If you have “other” students, would you charge a nominal fee to cover the curriculum costs? Would other students require more licensing (such as w/a daycare)? What sort of creditentials are involved w/being a “homeschool” teacher?

I think they are called “homeschool co-ops”. I know that the homeschoolers in our old church used to use the church facility once a week to meet and bring in a teacher to handle specialized subjects that some parents found difficult. We are not currently involved in anything like that, however, Mrs. Stew often gets the kids together with other homeschool friends of ours for playdates. This might eventually turn into some sort of co-op. The definition of what constitutes homeschooling is defined by state law and is different in almost every state.

Evan asked: What about the lost socialization with other students around their age? Beyond siblings?

I think this concern is valid, but often over-stated. Our kids play with other children on a regular basis and we are faithful to church, so there is socialization there. As they get older, we hope to involve them in community and club sports as well. Furthermore, there are some peer influences from which we would like to shelter them – at least for a little while longer.

The bottom line is that while there was a financial component to our decision to homeschool, this was not the only factor. Many pros and cons were weighed. One factor that is not financial is the fact that my job allows me to participate in homeschooling. I teach thirty to forty percent of the material in order to give Mrs. Stew a break. If my job ever changes so that I can no longer bear part of the burden, our kids will probably go back to school.

Any more questions? :)

Article by Stew

Photo by lepiaf.geo

12 Responses (including trackbacks) to “More discussion on the homeschool issue”

  1. Gina Says:

    Thanks for the follow up Stew! I really enjoyed the post.

  2. Greg Says:

    It’s good to know that some states are providing home school curriculum. That was certainly not the case when our kids were being home schooled. The cost should still should be a consideration to those out there who live in states where home school curriculum is not provided… or for those families who decide to opt out of the free state curriculum in favor of some other program.. given that one of the primary reasons people home school is because they are not satisfied with the government curriculum, or prefer a Christian based curriculum

  3. ABCs of Investing Says:

    Interesting follow up. Is it possible for someone who lives in a state without a state curriculum to use the curriculum from another state? Or do you have register somehow to use it?

  4. Stew Says:

    ABCs, we had to prove that we live in the state.

  5. Jennifer Says:

    You don’t have to have a curriculum to homeschool! We’re unschooling (or free-schooling if you prefer) our 5 year old and it’s going great. There are so many free resources available on-line and in libraries that it’s easy to do without buying a complete curriculum. It takes a little more work since it’s not all defined for you but the resources are there for the taking. Of course, we have spent some money on books this year but for the most part, they are books that will last us for the next 3-5 years or ones that we’d buy even if she was in school.

  6. Kids and Money Says:

    Free-schooling ? Never heard of that, think I’ll do some digging, thanks :)

  7. Mike Says:

    Until what age do you intend to do homeschooling?
    Would you be limited at one point in term of knowledge?
    How does it work, do your children will have to pass state exam at the end of the year?


  8. Susie G Says:

    I homeschooled my oldest for a couple years each. There was a free curriculum from the State of California in the 80s and 90s. I did a lot of curriculum I “made up” which was also free.
    I think by “socialization” what people really mean (or kids really lose out on) are skills like sitting still in a large group or waiting to start work till everyone else is ready, or to go to recess till everyone is lined up – ha ha. Unless you live in a very rural area or something, there are neighbor kids, cousins, scouting, church groups, swim lessons, plenty of kids to socialize with and yes, hopefully you can miss out on (or at least postpone) some of the less desirable “socialization.”
    I would answer, “Who do I want socializing my kids, random peers or ME?” :-D

  9. Funny about Money Says:

    Interesting discussion.

    In our state, schools are required to allow home-schooled kids who live in the district to participate in extracurricular activities. So your kids could be in the band, belong to the French club, or play on athletic teams. No rule says you can’t sign your kids up for Little League or soccer, too. And most folks who have children live in neighborhoods where lots of families have kids…how is after-school play not socializing?

    We did not home-school our child — he went to a private Episcopal day school and to the Jesuits for high school. Today we could not afford the grade school, because tuition has gone so high even his corporate-lawyer dad couldn’t pay it. Frankly, I didn’t think the education he got there was a heck of a lot better than what he would have had in public school: to teach reading the grade school used Open Court, a strange combination of sight-reading and phonics that left him unable to read well until the third grade (!). After three years in a Montessori preschool had him reading the front page of the Wall Street Journal fluently, the nit-witted grade-school teacher told him he couldn’t read because he hadn’t learned to read in the day school, and so he put everything he knew out of his mind and started all over in lock-step with his peers. Private schools often don’t have the science labs and computer technology available in public schools. But believe me, they have all the drugs, alcohol, and sex that any public school offers.

    I teach the products of Arizona’s public schools on the college level, and I know what goes on in colleges of education and why some students elect to go into education instead of more challenging programs. Given a choice today, I probably would home-school a kid, at least in the first few years. And if you can’t afford housing in a decent school district, home-schooling is a reasonable choice for all the K-12 years.

  10. Suburban Wife Says:

    I homeschooled both of our children through the 8th grade. They both elected to attend high school as freshman and we’ve been blessed to be able to afford to enroll them both in a small, secular private high school.

    In the 12 years that I homeschooled, only once did I purchase a pre-packaged curriculum. It was a total waste of money. For the most part, we unschooled. I have no idea of how cost effective homeschooling was; I did it because I felt it was our family’s best educational option. My goals were simple: to teach my children how to learn, to love learning, and to give them a chance to build strong personal foundations before exposing them to daily high doses of peer pressure.

    Did I succeed? Only time will tell.

    Our daughter’s about to graduate with a 3.8 (out of a possible 4.0) GPA and was just accepted into her first-choice college. She’s more confident in one day than I have been in 45 years combined and despite the fact that she drives me nuts, she’s a beautiful, compassionate young woman who always holds true to her core values. Recently a college interviewer instructed her to compliment me on the job I’d done homeschooling her; apparently he was particularly impressed with her social skills and level of independence.

    Our son scored in the 99th percentile on his 8th grade ITBS this spring — his first ever standardized test — earning perfect scores in half of the subjects. This fall he jumped into the school’s rigorous academics with both feet and so far has a 4.0 GPA. In addition, he’s sweet, generous, compassionate, and every bit the gentleman. Despite the challenges presented by his Asperger’s Syndrome, he has integrated beautifully into his class and is apparently quite popular — especially with the girls. Oh, and the faculty love him too.

  11. Stew Says:

    Suburban, thanks for the story. I think it adds further proof that no matter what your education choice, the only thing that guarantees a great education is a high level of parent involvement.