Remembering the Cost of Not Homeschooling
- Monday, January 11, 2010
Many of us began living in a state of recession the moment we made the decision to homeschool. In most cases, one parent opted out of the work force, causing significant changes and challenges to the family budget. Besides funding the country's public schools through taxation, we're responsible to find creative ways to purchase our own curriculum, pay for our own field trips, and fund our own activities.
Our nation's economy hasn't been friendly to one-income families for many years. These days, the dollar has to be stretched, compressed, wrung, and shaken even more to provide a vibrant home education, even if both parents work jobs beyond that of parent-teacher.
All this also robs parents of valuable time. When both parents work outside jobs, it is difficult, though not impossible, to juggle the demands of homeschooling. Parents sometimes worry that they will not be able to provide the quantity or the quality of time needed to educate their children at home.
Because of these fears, the temptation has probably never been stronger to turn to government schools, physical or online, to alleviate the time and costs associated with homeschooling. However, before we yield to that pull, let's take a moment to remember the costs of not homeschooling.
Remembering the Financial Cost
There are staggering costs that come with sending our kids to government schools, and while financial costs may not be the largest or most important consideration in the choice to homeschool, we begin here simply because financial strain tends to be one of our first deliberations when facing the temptation to quit—or to never begin at all.
But make no mistake; public school is far from free. Yes, your child will receive textbooks and field trips and a liberal educational experience, but you will find before Day One that much is expected of you. One of the biggest reliefs I experience each fall is going into the local Stuff-Mart and not having to pick up the list of required school supplies that every school in my community has printed and hung just inside the door. Students are obligated to bring everything from pencils and backpacks to hand sanitizer and a bag of litter for the class pet! (No joke!) They may be asked to pay a classroom fee for anything from art supplies to goodies for party days. Students have to supply extras, in some cases, to cover for those whose parents drop the ball.
Then there is the issue of clothing. Though school dress codes have altered considerably over the years, the fact remains that students undergo a huge amount of peer pressure about what they wear. Studies show that the average American family spends between $500 and $600 in back-to-school merchandise. I'm not sure about you, but that floors me! I've not only been able to purchase the few clothing necessities my kids need for that amount or less, but their entire curriculum as well. When my boys were young, they were their most academically productive while lounging in jogging pants or BDUs.
As homeschoolers, we do a lot of driving for our kids. But you won't be relieved by putting your kids on a big yellow school bus. There are afterschool programs and clubs to attend, sporting events, PTA meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and so on. And these days, parents are often asked to volunteer in the school room. While I think it's good that any public school is willing to have parents in the classroom, it makes me ask the question, "If I'm schooling with them anyway, then why not do it at home?"
Remembering the Spiritual Cost
While homeschoolers are stepping into our ranks from all walks of life and conviction—Christian, Muslim, agnostic, and even Wiccan—it remains true that a vast percentage of homeschoolers have taken this path, at least in part, because they want to have an unwavering Christian influence on their children without the confusing addition of so many mixed-up worldviews found in the public sector. We have stepped out to homeschool because many of us believe it is the best way to keep our children grounded in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are not exclusionists, nor do we have the idea that we will somehow shield our kids from all the evils of the world, but we believe we can best battle those evils from our own home fronts.
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