Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Can Every Family Afford To Homeschool?

A USA Today article recently made its way around the world wide web and created some interest.  The article stated that American families who homeschool are increasingly white, wealthy, and well-educated.  While it is true that homeschooling might be easily accessible to those making at least $50,000 or more salary a year, it does not necessarily follow that if your family doesn't meet that quota, that you cannot successfully homeschool as well.  Many families of various level of financial security are homeschooling their children - - even in these tough economic times.

A family's reasons for homeschooling usually do not have to do with money.  Many homeschool for religious reasons, others want their children to avoid the negative affects of the school environment, and still others believe they can give their children a better academic advantage in a homeschool setting.  Some parents of children with special needs or learning differences try out homeschooling as a way to provide more resources and support for their child.  None of these reasons is tied in any way to a family's income.  So, just because a family doesn't fit the category of "white, wealthy, or well-educated" doesn't mean that they have any less desire to homeschool their children.

Families that are struggling to make ends meet have found creative ways to continue homeschooling.  Many homeschooling moms have explored their "creative" side, and have taken up side businesses using websites like Etsy to sell their homemade crafts and artwork.  Others have started scouring local yard sales and flea markets for great bargains that they can then resell on Ebay or locally via Craigslist.  Moms who enjoy writing have found ways to turn their blogs into extra profit, or have begun creating product review blogs to add to their monthly income.

Of course, working from home is an ideal option for homeschooling moms and dads, but even a second job outside the home can be possible in many instances.  Jobs with some flexibility, such as caretaking, pet or house sitting, and childcare often have the added benefit of allowing you to bring your child or children with you to work.  Other families are making the sacrifice of family time by finding jobs for both parents on different shifts.  Although this is probably the least ideal way of earning extra money, some families feel that homeschooling their children is the current priority, and try to make the most of the times they do have together.  Families with older children and teens who can work independently even decide that both parents can work at least part time while the children focus on their schoolwork.  This situation only seems to work for mature, self-motivated students who have the ability to manage their time well.

piggy bank Even if earning additional income is not a possibility, many families may still be able to homeschool their children by cutting costs elsewhere.  Although it might seem impossible, many homeschooling families are surviving - - even thriving thanks to online viewing options - - without cable or satellite television subscriptions.    Other budget items to take a second look at include health club memberships (outside family time is more fun anyway), haircuts/grooming (community college cosmetology students will provide the same service for half the cost), pet care (put Rover in a big Rubbermaid container and suds away), and energy costs (following simple energy-saving guidelines really makes a difference in utility bills).  And even though it can be a lot of work, make an effort to have a yearly yard sale.  Not only will it provide some extra bucks, but also provides a terrific excuse for some spring cleaning and organizing!

And don’t underestimate the importance of finding inexpensive homeschool curriculum.  Purchasing materials from used curriculum sites, attending local homeschool book fairs, and taking advantage of free online resources and low-cost online homeschool curriculum are excellent ways to reduce the overall cost of homeschooling.

Making the decision to homeschool is not an easy one, and many factors such as faith, educational standards, local school systems, and individual needs of the child play into it.  The financial situation of a family should not have to be an issue when a family is making the choice of how to best educate their child.  By looking at alternatives such as sources of additional income, budget reevaluations, and costs of curriculum, almost any family can put financial concerns aside and focus on the important task of homeschooling their children!

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