It’s difficult to get a real number for how much homeschooling costs. The answer is: it depends. It depends on a lot of things: your income, family size, location, etc. But the real question parents are asking is “Am I doing okay?”

Most of us grew up thinking the state is responsible for our kids’ education. The state does a crappy job, for sure, but no one blames the parents when the state messes up their kid.

Think about it: if your kid does not read until 3rd grade everyone talks about how negligent the school is.  That’s much easier than homeschooling and deciding your kid is not ready to learn to read until 3rd grade and then hearing people question your competence as a parent.

Parents want benchmarks. Schooling families can see benchmarks easily. Homeschooling parents want to benchmark themselves with the cost of homeschooling instead of comparing themselves to going-to-school families. I am someone who usually doesn’t care if people think I’m crazy. Yet still, I look for affirmation.

So I like that the New York Post published their article Parents are Abandoning Public School in Droves to Homeschool their Kids. Those parents report they are spending about $10K per kid. In NYC this is a nice compromise. It’s better than public school and the fancy private schools where everything is customized for every kid are costing about $40K per year. Per kid.

I like knowing what people spend in NYC because the unfiltered elitism of NYC is comforting to me. Also, anyone homeschooling a kid in NYC is a maximizer, and really competitive. And they’re well-read enough to know that competitive parenting is not cool. I would probably respect that parent, and if they are spending roughly $10K per year then I like that as a benchmark.

If I’m paying $10K for my older son this year then that means I’m doing most of the physics and calculus teaching myself. Disaster. Every year I’m scrambling to figure out how to pay for all the stuff I want the kids to have.

Recognizing my financial strife — or at least my ability to rank high in google searches for financial strife — some enterprising company offered me an unsecured loan for my business. Do maximizers get unsecured loans? Do homeschooled children count as a small business?

I get around not having enough money by not spending evenly between my kids from year to year. It’s weird because schools spend the same amount on each kid. Or at least say they do. Maybe the real benchmark is that when you homeschool you can spend money on the kid who needs it most. Parents are allowed to trust themselves to know what feels right.

5 replies
  1. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    This was an interesting post. Thanks. Note that your link to the NYP article doesn’t go there; you should fix that. The article is worth reading, but I had to google it.

    I’m pretty sure that when I was homeschooling the costs never got up to 10K. That is to say, costs that would go away when my kid went back to school. I couldn’t really count music costs as part of homeschooling costs, because here we are at a fancy private school and still paying them. Likewise, my friend T couldn’t count Russian Math as part of homeschooling expenses because he sent his kids back to school but kept sending them to Russian Math. I don’t think anybody I associated with paid out more than a thousand a year for strictly homeschooling expenses. So many of the things we count on homeschooling – vacations, sports, memberships – are things we do even if kids are in school.

    I think I recommended JHU CTY to you as a good way for kids to take math classes. My son found his teachers there to be very responsive. A session-based Calculus class would cost about $1800; self-paced classes are charged by time taken. Harvard Extension is a good local place to take classes face to face; a Calculus class there would cost about 1700.

    Which is to say, I never enrolled my son in math classes while we were homeschooling. He was younger, and we were fine with Singapore books. I only enrolled my son in math classes once the inadequacy of our public school math curriculum became clear.

    Reply
    • Anu
      Anu says:

      Can I get in touch with you to know more about JHU CTY programs? My kids go to public schools in relatively good school district but I am at my wits end with lack of rigor and open time they have.

      Reply
  2. jessica
    jessica says:

    Yes, as this very person in NYC (granted we spend time in both NY and London, which is having an enormous growth market in HS now btw). I’d say the costs of keeping the children out and involved do add up compared to being enrolled in public schooling. Some of these costs are just apart of the higher COL such as snacks out, and transportation.
    Classes have been expensive in NYC since forever, and in London many are forming their own micro collaboratives using parents in the community (science led by a scientist parent for £5 a class for example). I find it a lot cheaper in London.
    I’d benchmark costs we’ve spent per year between 5k to 15k, depending on the year.
    I calculated this a while ago and determined each family most likely spends around $500 a month to cover.
    We’ve done it all from the 40k per year upper east side elite private, to the flexi 20k per year part-time collaborative ‘school’, and public for a few months. We’ve made great friends from them all, but this part time between Lon and NYC has given us the opportunity to meet so many families from Europe.
    This is not just an American phenomenon. It’s happening over there in droves, including France and Spain. While access is up, the quality of public education has dwindled across the board and parents are looking for solutions that are practical.

    Reply
  3. Cara Lowe
    Cara Lowe says:

    @jessica Curious what you know about getting plugged into these micro-collaboratives in London and throughout Europe. We, too, have been in many combinations of school for our only child (daughter): Classical Conversations coop, to private, to now private hybrid-classical.

    Reply
  4. Yvette
    Yvette says:

    My youngest is finally in college, with one more year to go, at UMass/Lowell, doing a STEM degree. We did the inner city public school route, heavily supplemented, because the last six years were at a Boston exam school. Even still, I hated the school system. It was heartbreaking to see my kids peers suffering, as well. Over 2 hrs a day just getting there and back, and no teenager should be made to wake up at 5:30 am. It’s inhuman. Every single year there were so many supplementals that it added up to $10k/year, easily. I often said we might as well be homeschooling, and if it had been just a decade later, I would have for sure. My nieces and nephews are homeschooling, and combo schooling. They’re all busy all the time; the parents look exhausted, but the kids are so impressive and thriving. I followed PT’s essays on college too, and agreed that in my own life college (and grad school) added little but networking. Most skills were honed on the job, or not. Still, with insight into the continuing bureacracy, my kids went to college, and got full scholarships, so I only had to cover the (substantial) housing expenses, and of course misc. expenses like a car, travel, computers, etc. They got work-study jobs, at least at first, and that gave them spending money, and then summer internships – which were paid. They thought they were “independent” before they actually were / are, but it’s a process. One of the best things I learned from following this education blog was that the process was just that, a process over time, and so individualistic to each kid, including their “village.” I thought at that time “no one else is going through this chaos” and I was relieved to find out many families were. Rich, or poor, kids cost us lots of time. Parenting is a committment, that I never doubted but I see many others did. Now that childrearing is over, I miss it terribly, but as I tell my patients about having babies, “if it wasn’t for amnesia, no woman would do it twice.” Ah, but that bundle of joy, was so worth it, right? I wonder if it isn’t false advertising, those beautiful little eyes, looking up at you with such love. Then, as an adult, they say “I love you,” and my heart just melts all over again. On it goes.

    Reply

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