The cost of homeschooling

The most recent figures I could find show that where I live, the state spends just over $14,000 p.a. educating a primary school child. This idea of ‘How much does education cost?’ comes up often enough in homeschooling forums. The numbers change a bit depending on where the data comes from, but the comments all have  a sameness to them. Whenever I have seen discussions on the cost of state schooling a child, the comments will be like this.

‘I only ever spend a few hundred dollars each year. How can the state waste all this money?’

Relief map

These comments always kind of grate against me, because they fail to take a number of things into account. From my own perspective, the state spends a little more than I do, but it is a fairly comparable figure. Like many people, I spend a few hundred dollars a year on supplies and various classes and events. There is a lot more than just that, though, to the true cost of homeschooling.

For every option that we choose in life, there is a whole collection which we pass over. When we chose to homeschool the boys, my days as an above average income earner came to an abrupt halt.

Being unable to be in two places at once, I had to cut down my work hours fairly drastically, because I was busy teaching the kids. It certainly means I earn a lot less. I just told myself that the boys were attending a very exclusive private school, and that was the cost of homeschooling. In a sense it is, but there is a bit more going on.

I have flexible hours at work, which is great, but now I am just a place filler. I am not trusted with any of the important, challenging or especially well paid jobs any more because I just dont turn up often enough or at the right times. Work is certainly no longer stressful for me, but nor it is particularly interesting. My career hangs in limbo.

At the same time that I notice this, I also see people that I trained at work overtake me, and move into leadership or specialist positions. I certainly cant begrudge them the rewards of their efforts, but it is still an oddly humbling experience to watch. When the day comes that I want to fire my career up again, there is going to be an uncomfortable gap in my CV. It seems unlikely that anybody relevant is going to be impressed by the fact that I spent so much time educating my own children, regardless of what they might achieve. That is another part of the cost of homeschooling.

I am sure I am not the first to have found that homeschooling is very expensive in terms of lost income and career opportunities. Suddenly a very relevant question becomes What is a great education worth?

Dinosaur garden

The boys certainly are getting a great education. Although they are stronger in some areas than others, overall, they are definitely ahead of what would normally be expected of them. On top of that, they take a genuine interest in learning, are socially aware, and have a far better relationship with me than they otherwise would.

Still, I wonder sometimes if we would be better off as a collective group if they just had a good education at a school instead of a great one at home, and I made more money to cover the difference. There doesnt seem to be any definite right answer here. It all depends on the circumstances at the time.

For all the effort and energy involved in teaching the boys, I see it as a luxury not everyone can afford.

About Blokeschool

I am a homeschooling dad with a wife and two boys. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, so I feel compelled to write it all down. In my spare time, I work as a manager for the local health district, drink too much coffee, and am an overenthusiastic martial artist.
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11 Responses to The cost of homeschooling

  1. Great post! Yes people only add up the cost of the material things and forget about the lost income or things like the increased electricity bill because we are home during the day using more or it. In my case it’s more a ‘can’t afford NOT to homeschool’ due to my son’s special needs and by ‘afford’ I mean in terms of health and well being not monetary value. Wouldn’t it be nice to get paid the amount that the government spends on a child’s education. After all my partner still works so we are still paying taxes, that go towards covering the cost of educating someone elses child.

    • Blokeschool says:

      There are certainly a lot of people around who ‘can’t afford not to homeschool.’ That is not the case with us, which makes the choice to homeschool feel like more of an open one.
      Getting the states share of the money would definitely never go astray, however.

  2. I wonder if people take into account that public schools also have to build rather large buildings…and heat and cool those buildings…and provide electricity for those buildings…and pay people to work in those buildings. It’s an apples and oranges comparison, really.

    We took a pretty big income hit when I left my job to home school Grace, but, for our situation and our family, it has been totally worth it. Grace is much happier and getting a much better education, and I’m much happier because I was absolutely miserable in my job. I’m pretty sure having a happier wife and daughter has made my husband happier, too. 🙂

    • Blokeschool says:

      I was looking at the budgets for the hospital I work at a couple of years ago. The cost of just keeping a large public space open is incredible, let alone the additional cost of actually doing something with it. You’re right. There are so many different factors at play, it is not a genuine comparison to make.
      The kids have never been to a regular school, so I don’t have a before and after image to compare. I get the sense that the kids, and by extension the adults, would be a lot more stressed out and cranky having to go off to school al the time.

  3. irini112014 says:

    For me personally, I think that homeschooling can go on your CV. Homeschooling a child, particularly in the manner which I see you doing from your blog, involves getting involved, organizing activities, taking initiatives, looking at the big picture and also dissecting it to look at the particular skills that were learned from each activity, analysis – of your children’s progress and yourself/work, and a myriad of other positive, sought-after qualities that employers are looking for. Personally, I think I finally know HOW to be a good, or better than good, employee when I return to the work world because I am a homeschooling parent.

    • Blokeschool says:

      These are all very true, and they are valuable skills to have. I think it would be difficult to put this in a CV written for someone who doesn’t know about homeschooling, without coming across as being ‘cute’ rather than ‘relevant.’

  4. Cara says:

    Yes, this is our biggest dilemma. My kids are still preschool age so I have a year and a bit to decide. If I went back to full time work I’d earn at least double what my partner does. Should we swap roles – esp when I am an educator and it seems crazy to go out to work to educate other kids in order to fund my partner, not particularly interested in education, to educate the kids? As they’re getting older they’re more involved in things like language, ballet, music classes all of which cost money – but then I can’t see how they’d have time to stay involved in those things – the stuff of life, I reckon – if they had to spend all day at school.
    Actually, if you are counting classes, we would be spending a few hundred each term. But I know a lot of school-based kids are doing those things too.

    • Blokeschool says:

      The main reasons I became the educator at our place revolved around our work. My wifes job paid more, and my job allowed me to work on weekends. It is a dilemma, and in your case there is a dark kind of irony as well if you paid the bills by educating other peoples kids but not your own.

  5. barnraised says:

    Good to see you back! I agree that it’s not a luxury everyone can afford. But if it is doable than – a great education at home is worth so much more.

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