“What does it cost to homeschool?” This is a question that seems to pop up a lot with people who are interested in the option. This is understandable since going to public school is ‘free’ (or already paid for) and going to private school seems to be too expensive of an option for lots of people. Here in CA, and I’m sure in other states as well, going to a charter school satellite program is very attractive since they give you a stipend per semester to spend on school supplies and classes. However, this is still ‘public school’ that comes with testing and other requirements that have to be met.
So, each year I do a cost analysis of the curriculum I have purchased. I do this mostly for myself, but also to be able to answer those people who come along and ask the question.
Side Note: as far as supplies go we save a ton of money compared to our public school friends. Each year I get to listen to friends shop as the list of supplies to bring in on the first day gets longer and as parents have to fill in supplies that have run out in the classrooms that the teachers can’t afford to restock. And I remember how much we spent on our foster daughter for kinder. Then, I get to watch as the kids do sales drives and other gimmicks to raise money to go on field trips or buy large ticket items. We don’t have to buy new each year, and can use our supplies until they are out before having to replace. We also don’t have that mad rush to buy new school outfits, the latest and greatest backpack or lunchbox, or other material demands. And, we can go on field trips on off or free days or get good group rates to see things we can’t get into for free. I do not keep track of supply costs or field trip costs for purposes of this analysis, though we do have a budget for the kids per month for activities.
I was given two of the Core A Instructor’s guides when I originally went through it with Hannah. So, I decided to piecemeal the rest of the core together via ebay and paperback swap and used book stores. I did this over about a year so I had time to watch for deals and missing items. Then when we were a couple weeks out from starting, I purchased all the remaining items I needed and Sonlight specific things directly from them. When we were getting ready to start with Benjamin, I decided to upgrade to the most up-to-date versions of the IGs and repurchased consumable items and any new items for the updated curriculum. I realize many people don’t have the time or patience to do this, so my first set of numbers are if I had just purchased everything directly from Sonlight to begin with (they also offer a slight discount to purchase a full core at one time). My second set of numbers are what I actually spent.
Purchase everything I used directly from Sonlight for two kids (this includes per child a full year history and bible curriculum, a full year science curriculum, a full year LA curriculum, two years of math, and some handwriting curriculum):
This may seem like a large number to you, but compare it to some private schools you know or even ask a public school parent how much money they spent on supplies and fundraising over a year and you will see that it isn’t actually that high. Take into account that I was able to reuse a large portion of the material for a second child (and might use them again for a third) and that a large portion of the books I have sitting on my shelf can be resold if I wanted to since they are mainstream books. Also, I stretched this core to 18 months for Hannah and will probably do so for Ben as well to get them both to a little bit older age to start 1st grade (giving me basically 6 months free). This brings the cost down to:
$600/child. Very affordable!
My values piecemealing it together are:
$925 total or
That’s my kindergarden cost analysis for all you wondering people. 🙂