You want to homeschool, but first you need some sort of idea of how much this is going to cost.
Like with anything kid-related, you can utilize freebies and hand-me-downs, spending little to nothing to homeschool your child.
On the other hand, you can buy the biggest, most expensive homeschool curriculum on the market, sign your child up for costly clubs and activities, and buy them a new computer with all the bells and whistles. Going that route, the cost to homeschool could climb into several thousand dollars per child. The key to estimating your homeschool costs is a combination of planning and prioritizing. You want to make sure you’re providing a quality education, while working within the confines of your budget.
The cost to homeschool varies widely, but most families can expect to spend about $200 to upwards of more than $2000 per child, per year. The actual cost for your family will depend largely on your curriculum choices, supply costs, and your child’s participation in any groups, sports, or extracurricular activities.
But what do those expenses actually look like in real life? I’ve broken down the cost of homeschooling into a few key categories and given specific examples to get you started.
No matter how big or small your budget may be, it is possible to make a great homeschooling experience for you and your child.
Homeschool curriculum is an area where you can either spend big or save big. The choice is up to you. If you’re shopping for new curriculum, you can look into an affordable workbook style program like Masterbooks, which should cost you about $200 for an elementary-age student. Parents love this program for its affordability and grab-and-go style lesson plans. However, these books are mostly consumable workbook style products, so you will not be able to reuse them for a younger child later on.
Another popular program is the more expensive Abeka Video curriculum, which runs around $950 for a full year. This curriculum is popular because students receive class instruction from daily videos of a teacher in a classroom, which takes much of the teaching burden off the parent. Many materials that accompany this program can be reused for younger children in the family when they reach the same grade level, though the actual videos must be sent back to the company at the end of the year.
Abeka recognizes that their homeschool curriculum is one of the most expensive options, and has a monthly payment plan option to make the cost more manageable.
Both of these programs will give your child a quality education, but the cost is very different based on what they provide, and how much involvement is required from you as the parent.
Are these options out of your price range? Check out our articles about how to find used homeschool curriculum, and tips on finding free homeschool resources!
Materials and Supplies $20-$500
Another homeschool related expense would be any school supplies or other supplemental materials your child requires for their school year. This is a cost that will increase as your child gets older, especially as technology becomes an increasing part of your homeschool program.
There are two key resources your family will need to homeschool, regardless of the ages of your children or what curriculum you choose. You may already have these in your home, but if you do not, allow room in your budget for internet service and a color printer. Internet providers will, of course, vary by location. You are probably already accounting for this expense in your general household budget, but if not, expect to pay at least $40 per month for internet service.
If you do not have a color printer, we highly encourage you to invest in one at the beginning of your homeschool journey. Shop around for a good deal, and even check local resale sites for used options if cost is a concern.
If shopping for a new color printer, the Epson 360 is currently taking the homeschool world by storm. This printer falls into the mid-range as far as price, however it makes up for its purchase price by using such an incredibly small amount of ink! Families using this printer to homeschool multiple children, often report making it through the entire school year without needing to replace the ink cartridges.
With a good quality color printer, you’ll be able to print off worksheets and craft templates for younger children, as well as charts, graphs, and other resources for older students. Not to mention, you’ll be able to take advantage of the growing number of printable pdf curriculum options.
For general school supplies, a kindergarten student may only need the basics. You’ll definitely want pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, and construction paper, so budget about $20 per student. If you have a bit more to spend, consider adding some colorful charts and posters, or check out our article with our top must have homeschool items for a young child.
For an older elementary age child, you may find yourself adding resources like a globe, maps, and kits for science experiments and crafts. What hobbies does your child already enjoy? Consider purchasing some of these supplies to enhance your homeschool experience, or joining a monthly subscription service, such as the geography club, Little Explorers.
When a student reaches high school, supply costs may grow significantly, to include a computer, tablet, microscope, lab kits, and even tutors. Of course, all of these items are optional, so if you’re on a tight budget, don’t think that excludes you from homeschooling. Instead, you need to watch out for curriculum or activities that require these more expensive resources, and choose options you and your student can complete at home with materials you already have on hand.
Groups and Activites $50-$1000
Just because you’re homeschooling, doesn’t mean you have to spend all day at home. In fact, many homeschool families love the freedom they have over their schedule, finding plenty of homeschool groups, classes, and activities to keep them on the go almost every day.
Co-ops A homeschool co-op is usually a group of parents, coming together once a week or every other week, to share the teaching of one another’s children in various enrichment classes. My personal experience as a homeschool student and now homeschool parent, has included everything from co-ops with only fun classes such as a Show and Tell class for kindergarteners, or a basic Gym class for elementary kids, all the way over to a highly academic co-op where students wrote lengthy research papers, participated in group science labs, and learned French.
As might be expected, the cost associated with this wide variety of homeschool co-ops can also vary greatly. An enrichment co-op, where classes are all run by parent volunteers, and a low cost space such as a church gymnasium is used, may cost as little as $50 per year.
On the other hand, a group like Classical Conversations (available in many cities throughout the United States), which has paid teachers and administrative staff, or one that is renting a brick and mortar location and has high overhead costs, could cost as much as $1000 per year.
If homeschool co-ops are something you think your family would like to participate in, I recommend conducting an internet search with your city’s name, and “homeschool co-op” in the search bar. Find the contact info for each group, then email the administrator for specific costs, classes available, and parent volunteer expectations. Do be aware that almost every homeschool co-op has some level of expenses, even if they only include insurance and materials for the classes, so its unlikely you’ll find a group that is completely free to join.
If your child is interested in participating in sports, first call your local school district, to see if they allow homeschooled students to participate. Guidelines vary by state, and even by school district, so there’s really no way to know if you’ll be able to participate unless you speak to someone directly. Some districts absolutely will not allow homeschoolers to participate in school sports. Others will allow homeschooled students to participate, but with certain requirements or restrictions. There are many school districts that allow homeschoolers to participate in all school sports. If your child is cyber-schooled, make sure to mention that when you talk to the representative at the school district, as this may make it easier for your child to participate in school sports, since many cyber school programs are actually considered to be a variation of public school. Usually, school sports will have minimal expenses for the families.
If school sports are not available to you, or simply not of interest to your student, look for other options like gymnastics, ballet, and karate. Many gyms and studios are beginning to offer classes specifically for homeschoolers. Expect to pay $50+ per month for such classes.
Classes and Clubs
Another great way to enhance your homeschool experience is through various classes and clubs. You may find opportunities in your area to participate in pottery classes, girl scouts/boy scouts, and piano lessons. This is a great way to add some variety to your homeschool routine and the cost should range somewhere around $20 per class.
Homeschooling does come at a financial cost, but if you plan ahead and set aside a little of your budget every month, you’ll at least have a little money to work with as you shop for curriculum and other opportunities for your child. Homeschooling doesn’t have to cost a fortune, though the price certainly can creep up on you, so look for the options that best fit your family and budget.
We recommend checking out our Curriculum Planning tool as you consider your options. With this tool, you’ll be able to browse our streamlined list of curriculum choices, create lists for each child or academic year, and save the items you’re considering so you can easily find them in one place when you’re ready to purchase.