A lot of people think they want to homeschool but they don’t think they can afford it. So they ask me: How much does it cost to homeschool?
I think it’s more instructive to ask the question the other way around: How much does it cost to send your kids to school? Because the answer is that it costs a lot. In fact, the Atlantic just ran an essay by a guy who is homeschooling because it’s more cost effective than sending his kid to a good school.
To live in a top school district, you have to be earning about $120,000. (Look, don’t tell me you live in a top school district and where the median income is lower than $99K. I’ve done my research. It’s not true. You are just deluding yourself that your school is a top performer.) Most people do not have the ability to earn $120K, so households in those districts have a lot of dual earners.
So then the cost of sending your kid to school is either:
a. That you are a low-income person for that area—which is psychologically very bad, because Daniel Gilbert’s research (and everyone else’s) shows that feelings of financial security are purely relative to the people around you, and you need to make the median income to feel secure.
b. That you have to have two parents working. If you homeschool, you can live in a poor school district , with under-priced housing, and have one parent at home. For most of us, the price of sending your kid to school is that two parents need to work full-time.
So you give up having a parent at home when your kids come home from school if you send your kid to a top-tier school. If you have one parent stay home to homeschool, you give up living in a good school district. You might give up going on family vacations (we don’t take vacations) or going out to dinner (we don’t go out to dinner either).
Homeschooling is a lifestyle decision, for sure. But so is sending kids to school. The real question, I think, is for each parent to ask themselves, would I rather be at work all day or would I rather be home with my kids all day? You have the choice—you can do either, but you can’t do both.