It has been brought to my attention that some readers may disagree with a notion which I raised in my last post. In that post, I stated that teaching a child at home can cost less than sending a child to public school. In an attempt to back up my that statement, I’d like to expound….
Now mind you, I recognize that some families may have to forfeit a second salary in order to homeschool. That scenario does not enter into this equation. My argument presumes that a family’s gross income will not be altered by the homeschooling decision. The issue being raised here is simply the comparative cost of public vs. home education.
First let’s take a look at the representative cost of sending a child to a "free", taxpayer-funded public school. Each year in my hometown, parents receive a list of supplies that must be purchased for each child. Below is a copy of the actual list provided for a fifth-grade student in my school district.
Ballpoint pens–blue, black and red ink
Erasers–for pencil and ink
Ruler–scaled in inches and centimeters
2 glue sticks
Scissors–metal; pointed tips
1 package of theme paper–8" x 11", wide ruled
6 pocket folders with prongs; 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 blue, 1 green, 2 kid choice
1 package of fine point markers
Gym shoes to leave at school
5 spiral notebooks (8" x 11") 1 red, 1 yellow,
1 blue, 1 green, 1 kid choice
*Assignment notebook-purchased at school (2.50)
Box of Kleenex
Box of baby wipes
post it notes (3 x 3)
1 1" binder
1 set of 5 binder dividers
1 package dry erase markers (fine point)
4 tennis balls
1 set of 3 x 5 note cards
* NAME ON EACH ITEM PLEASE*
No Trapper Keepers or White-Out please
Headphones that can be plugged into a computer-enclose them in a zip-lock bag with name on the bag and headphones.
A quick tally of the cost of purchasing these supplies at CVS or Walmart came to more than $50. I did not include the cost of extra tennis shoes or head phones since the price of these can vary so widely. Now, to this you must add annual fees required for classroom parties ($20-30 per child here in my town), field trips, class trips (in Illinois, most 8th-graders travel to Springfield for several days), school lunches, required daily snacks (yes, required) and involvement in extra-curricular activities. In some schools, students even have to purchase their books. Add to ALL of that the cost of appropriate (and often, trendy) school clothing, and we’re talking hundreds, even thousands of dollars!
I have homeschooled my three daughters for the last 17 years. Our school supplies are shared and recycled from year to year. We purchase only what is necessary. Since we have always been able to reuse non-consummable portions of our curriculum, our TOTAL annual curriculum expenses have never exceeded $1000 and have often been significantly less than that. And since our daughters have always been much less concerned about current fashion trends than their publicly-schooled counterparts, we have spent VERY little on "school clothes" over the years. All in all I have spent FAR less to educate my children than many public school families I know.
Hopefully, I’ve debunked the myth that public school is more "affordable" than homeschooling. And for those of you who aren’t homeschooling because you think you can’t afford it…think again! Try it…maybe you’ll actually save a little bit of money.