I see this spoken about a lot on social media. Just how much does home educating a child cost you as a family? When families are weighing up whether they can take the plunge, they often want to know what are the true costs to educating a child outside of the system. The answers vary massively and one answer that springs up so often is this:
It can cost as little or as much as you want it to.
Now this is very true, but until you’ve dipped your foot into home educating waters this doesn’t always give you a great deal of clarity. After a year of home education I’ve found it useful to break it down into 3 areas.
- What will you save by not going to school?
- How much can you afford to spend?
- What do you consider essential?
What will you save by not going to school?
To me starting with what will you save starts the whole exercise off on a positive footing. Firstly the uniform. In our experience school required specific school jumpers, ties, white school shirts, grey trousers and smart black shoes. None of which comes cheap. Add to that a school bag, lunch box, PE kit, stationary, it’s all going to start to add up. Obviously your child is still going to need clothes, but you’re not going to be spending it on specific clothes that only have one purpose. I’d hazard a guess that the amount of belongings that get lost when a child is at school won’t affect you quite as much either.
Next we can add on school trips and extra expenses. Depending on the school they may be the weekly bake sale, the PTA donations, the raffle tickets, the school trips. Add that on to your figure.
Perhaps you’d have to do the school run by car? So we can allow some petrol on to our figure. Possibly parking too? Add this of it would have affected you.
Also think of the savings with term time holidays. It all adds up.
How much can you afford to spend?
Once you’ve worked out how much you’ve saved it’s good to have a look at how much you can realistically afford to spend each month on home education. Obviously this is the figure that varies massively from family to family, but trust me, they’ll be someone out there with a budget similar to yours. It’s going to be hard to always stick to it, but try if you can. It’ll make life a lot less stressful in the long run, and it’s great working things out with the children.
What do you consider essential?
At first this is probably the most overwhelming part. Far more questions crop up at this point that answers. Will I need to spend a fortune on resources? What about days out? How will my child socialise if I don’t go to every event? Do we need a tutor? How about memberships? The early days are quite overwhelming, but the resounding home educators advice would be to chill. Don’t start spending. Wait and see. I found this part really tricky but it’s so true. Here’s a list of things we’ve found that we spend our budget on:
- Annual passes – from the National Trust, the zoo, Merlin passes, to the RHS. If it’s something you love, it may be worth a pass. Consider them for presents too. Is there someone in your family who could buy the children a pass for Christmas?
- Ink – I get a bit print happy at times, as there are so many excellent FREE resources out there.
- Educational Apps – we use Conquer Maths, Twinkl and Literacy planet, but waited months before signing up for all of them. Wait and see is the old adage here again.
- Days out. Don’t be afraid if you can’t do them all. I would have signed us up to anything and everything in the early days which is not only expensive but also pointless if you and your child have no interest in the event!
There are loads of places which offer things for free. From the amazing museums, to your local library. Pack a picnic so you’re not forever forking out for lunch. Invest in a good flask for days in the woods.
It might not always be the cheapest, but the value of the education your child will receive is priceless.