During the past week or so I've read a few blogs and it seems most folks have "back to school" posts up. Since we home school year round, taking time off as needed for Mr. B's travel schedule (aka visits home), family visits, holidays, etc., we generally don't have any "back to school" trauma, events, expenses ... yes, I said expenses.
I was shocked to learn that my neighbor's kindergartner's school supply list included items such as a flash drive, dry erase markers, file folders in various colors, post-it notes, etc. I was even more shocked to find that after refusing to purchase items such as the flash drive, dry erase markers, etc., her little kindergartner's school supply list still cost more than $135.00!! My neighbor stated that if she had purchased everything on "the list", she would have been out more than $200.00 ... AND her child will not bring a single school supply item home at the end of the year. This, of course, does not include the expenses of school clothes and the $2.10 per day school lunches.
I remember when my older boys were in public school and the supply lists began morphing into an office supply vs. a school supply list. I was one of "those" parents who would stay up until 2AM writing, in permanent marker, my child's name on EVERY item I sent off in his back pack. Yup, I labeled every single file folder, box of chalk and pencil with my child's name. As I remember, back then the school never returned the crayons, pencil bag/box, map pencils, etc. at the end of the year either.
Thus, I come to the point of my post. Many parents have told me they'd love to home educate their children, but they simply can't afford it. They assume the curriculum is too expensive. Most parents, we certainly always have, generally keep "real" school supplies (glue, scissors, constructions paper, crayons, colored map pencils, etc.) on hand at home for various crafts and entertainment. When adding up the expenses of public education, I continually wonder how anyone can afford public school?
$200.00 per child
Lunches - our district attends school 183 days per year (yeah, one could always brown bag it, my older boys did, but I seriously do not personally know a single family whose children take their lunches to school now days.)
$384.40 per child
Field Trip (budgeting for only ONE per year)
$15.00 per child
That's a total of $599.40 per child and that does not include school clothes/uniforms OR extra curricular activities such as, cheer leading, sports, cosmetology, art, etc.
May, 2010 was our seven year anniversary since we chose to liberate our family from our state's public school system. After visiting with my neighbor, I decided to figure out exactly how much money we've spent on curriculum home educating our children during the past 7 years. (I am a type "A" personality and thus, a record keeper - I have all my home education receipts on file). During the past 7 years, we've spent a total of $2,582.24 on home schooling curriculum, that's an average of $368.89 per year for up to 3 students. We haven't purchased "school" clothes in seven years. Our kiddos have play/work clothes and church clothes. Since we home school, we don't need "school" clothes or uniforms.
Our first year home schooling was our most expensive year as we were educating only 1 child. Years 2-4 we educated 2, year 5 we were educating 3, years 6&7 we are now back down to 2 (JP, our 1st child to home school, was graduated from high school 2 years ago). I have met several home educating families who spend upwards of $2,500.00 or more per year, per child. Because of this, many often wonder how we educate our children so frugally. Here's a few things I do: (And believe it or not, I've actually met folks who home educate for as little as $50 per year, per student!).
1. We do not participate in satellite schools, distance learning schools or programs that take care of record keeping, etc. These "services" are, in my opinion, very expensive AND I personally think they restrict our family's personal freedom in educational choices. When using these programs / services the family must use the program's/ service's curriculum, one is restricted to grading period deadlines (not good for families who travel often), etc.
2. We do not use computer dependent curriculum. Not only are they expensive, can not be re-sold, but we can not save it and pass it down to younger children because of expiration dates.
3. We search for, find and purchase used text books and teacher's manuals. After all, if my kiddos were in public school they'd be issued used text books. Used curriculum is literally 1/2 the cost of new. 95% of ours is purchased through our local home school curriculum stores.
4. Because of an 8 year gap between JP and OG, when JP had completed his curriculum to our satisfaction, we re-sold the books. Our local home school curriculum stores will buy back used curriculum at 25% the cost of new. Occasionally, I've sold our used curriculum to other home schoolers at 50% the cost of new, so I've always recouped 50 %-100% of our initial investment (remember, I generally purchase used curriculum at 1/2 the cost of new).
5. There is only 3 years between OG and EJ, thus I save OG's curriculum to use with EJ. When EJ finishes to our satisfaction, I re-sell that used (twice by our family) curriculum which allows us to recoup at least 25% of our initial investment.
6. We use the public library. After all, our tax dollars have already purchased all those books.
7. If we need the sort of information generally found in an encyclopedia, we use the internet to look it up.
8. Many of our school supplies have been in our craft cabinet for years. We only add to them when needed. Thus, we literally spend less than $15.00 per year on consumables like glue, construction paper and maybe a new box of crayons every now and then.
Hummmm, $368.89 divided by 3 = $122.96 per student (WoW! that year we spent less than the public school supply list for all our curriculum).
$368.89 divided by 2 = $184.45 per student (WoW! still less than the public school supply list!)
Well, after considering how much money we've saved by home educating, I don't think our family can afford to place our children in public school ... Not that we'd ever want to go back to that ...