There are three legal ways to put your child through primary and secondary education: public schooling, private schooling, and homeschooling. The National Household Education Surveys Program found that parents who homeschooled their kids in 2016 had one thing in common: distaste for some part of public or private education. Homeschooling has become a trending solution for many parents or guardians to help mitigate or close gaps in their kids’ educational journey.
The homeschool population size grew substantially from 2012 to 2016, and the number of homeschoolers has continued to increase by the millions in the U.S. There are many benefits and reasons for choosing to homeschool over public education.
While some people may think that parents largely use homeschooling to fuse education and religion with each other, there are many advantages and specific reasons for homeschooling that are important to understand, from budget reasons to personalized education. Homeschooling is a viable — and in some cases, more practical — option for many, and there’s a debate about whether it’s the smartest way to teach kids in the 21st century.
Although some people choose to homeschool their kids for religious reasons, the conception that homeschooling is primarily religious is outdated. Families that decide to homeschool come from a variety of different backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, and regions that may influence the manner in which they choose to educate their youth. Some of the most common reasons that individuals validate homeschooling are:
Distaste with public or private schooling: Occasionally, a family (or student) will have had a bad experience within one or more of the educational realms, and would rather have complete control of things such as instruction, school environment, personal safety, or dealing with specific educational boundaries. These occurrences can stem from a range of factors, such as lack of structure in a certain scenario (i.e. their math-gifted child isn’t challenged enough), or simply disagreeing with protocol in a particular educational setting.
There is an assortment of misconceptions of homeschooling that may sway an individual to educate their child in one manner or another. Common misconceptions surrounding homeschooling include myths such as:
Homeschooling is all the same: One homeschooled student’s curriculum could look completely different than another’s. Effective education is specific to the learner. Even when a parent teaches multiple children, homeschooling does not always have to look the same.
For parents and guardians, there are numerous benefits of homeschooling a child. Whether you are weighing your educational options or contrasting one program versus another, it becomes important to understand the benefits of homeschooling:
Homeschooling not only poses benefits for the student, but there are also direct benefits for the parent/guardian, including:
If you are trying to validate homeschooling within your budget, it becomes important to know the costs. The cost of homeschooling depends on an array of variables so it is important to take all considerations into mind prior to taking the leap.
Similar to how there are different learning styles, there are also different types of teaching curriculums. Some parents appreciate an old-fashioned, traditional education, while some want a completely reformed curriculum. Some of the most common types of homeschool curriculums used are:
Classical Method: Educational practices that harken back to ancient Rome and Greece; utilizes the Great Books and other classic texts to improve worldview training;
Benefits: Well-proven teaching style, a surplus of ready-to-use curricula, large network;
Charlotte Mason Method: A very inexpensive method that is Christian-based and focuses more on living literature than spending a majority of the time dissecting textbooks;
– Benefits: Independent learning, used and revised over 100 years, low cost, collaborates well with unit-study and classical methods;
– Drawbacks: Elementary education centered, old-fashioned, lack of emphasis on math and science;
– Style: Traditional technique that ropes in unit-study and classical techniques;
Teaching and subject guide;
Curriculum, textbook, and video store.
Unschooling: A free-form learning and educational approach that puts an emphasis on learning through experiential, activity-based, hands-on methods;
– Benefits: Loose structure/adaptable, diverse, multi-dimensional;
– Drawbacks: Lacks structure, redundancy, humanistic;
– Style: An individualistic, student-centered approach that is largely unconventional;
Choice books and subject guides;
Unit Studies: A focus on a particular event or topic that is expanded on through the lens of every subject area;
– Benefits: Holistic, student-directed, collaborative, topic efficiency;
– Drawbacks: Dependent on curriculum, dependent on other curriculum types;
– Style: A combination of curriculum methods that focuses on learning at multiple levels;
Unit study plans;
Character trait unit studies;
Unit plan templates.
The cost of your curriculum depends entirely on what you choose to include, and what resources you decide to use. There are plenty of free, downloadable teaching tools, textbooks, and programs designed to educate on a budget.
Even though you do not need teaching credentials to homeschool your child, there are some subjects or activities your student(s) may be interested in that stretch beyond your ability. Examples of these include:
The cost of external classes fluctuates from provider to provider based on the market in that area. While some music lessons may cost as little as $10 an hour in one state, it may cost as much as $75 an hour in another.
There are supplies that you’ll find almost impossible to avoid using in order to provide a well-rounded, resourceful education experience. As an educator, you will need to consider organizational materials as well. Programs that are completely online avoid a lot of traditional schooling supplies, but for other homeschooling techniques you will need the following homeschool supplies:
The materials that you deem necessary depend entirely on your instructional style. Your list may not include the same materials as this traditional list.
Even when a child is homeschooled, they are still required to participate in standardized testing. Testing and evaluation is done through coordinators and proctors who are facilitated through homeschool testing services.
Standardized tests range from $25 to $100 per student and an extra $25 to $50 if the test needs to be administered by an outside source. In most cases, homeschooled students will avoid fees by being tested in the public school setting during their grade-level testing.
There are several organizations you should consider becoming a part of in order to effectively educate your children, such as local support groups and state organizations. Different groups require different monthly fees, annual fees, or one-time payments. The approximate costs are as follows:
There are many miscellaneous costs that individuals should consider in order to correctly assess the costs surrounding homeschooling. The biggest cost to consider is the potential loss of income. Homeschooling kids can be taxing and time-consuming for guardians, and juggling a job outside of educating is difficult. Other costs to consider are:
There are miscellaneous expenses that pop up in homeschooling just like fundraisers, class parties, and field trips in the public school sphere. Although some can be prepared for, homeschooling doesn’t eliminate miscellaneous costs.
If cost is a big determiner in the type of education that you choose for your child, it becomes important to be aware of the cost surrounding the three main types of schooling:
The numbers are estimates, but they take tuition costs, supply costs, meal costs, extracurriculars, and any other specific costs within an educational realm into account (e.g. testing costs in homeschooling). Costs will change from state to state in each category of schooling based on the requirements in those respective states. The three main differences between the price of homeschooling and the other two types of schooling are:
Although it is a full-time job, there is no paycheck for parents who choose to homeschool their children. There are things to consider if you’re not earning enough money in order to mitigate homeschooling costs with supplemental income.
There are curriculum-based grants for families that need financial help to provide for homeschooling. Talk with your local school district about where to seek out grants. You can find some online, but most of the time you will get access to them through your specific district or recommendations from a homeschool group.
Some of the most common grants available are income-based, but there are others, such as grants for homeschooled children with disabilities, and disaster-based grants. The best way to stay up to date with grants offered for homeschooling is to look into the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) page.
The gig economy is a recent growing trend that helps workers mitigate financial distress through temporary employment in occupations such as independent contracting, driving, or odd jobs.
Since homeschooling is so time-consuming, it is important to consider that you can start a side hustle while keeping your job. Sometimes, it’s hard to understand where to find gig economy jobs, or what the best side hustles are, but since homeschooling doesn’t pay anything, it’s important to understand good options for a side gig, such as:
One of the largest expenses is the curriculum you decide to use. There are free curricula available, and sometimes there are free-to-use supplies. Access your local library or resources used by other homeschool educators in support groups. You should also consider shadowing or collaboration with a teacher.
Schools have a budget for curriculum, so educators have access to curricula, textbooks, and resources they could be willing to lend you, or you can make copies. Renting textbooks poses a variety of benefits, from low cost to less commitment. As your student advances, you will need to get new curricula and resources every year (sometimes every semester), so it becomes even more critical to rent.
In some states, you are able to write off homeschooling on your taxes. Although these are not federal income tax credits, there are state tax benefits available. The amount of credit varies by state. The following 15 states provide income tax benefits for educational expenses:
You can check to see if there are any tax breaks or loopholes for homeschooling in your state through your state’s Department of Revenue.
Just because you are homeschooling does not mean you need to reinvent the wheel and create a new way to go about educating students. There are plenty of resources available to help with your homeschooling, including support groups, state programs, lesson plans, and curriculum help.
Some great resources for parents who choose to homeschool are: