America’s educational system has been in the hot seat for years. Many teachers and administrators have felt unheard as they share their feelings on state regulations, mandates and milestones in order to accommodate standardized testing. This leaves some families and educators looking to switch lanes and find another way to educate their students. In recent years, homeschooling has become more mainstream. Like any option, it has pros and cons, but in weighing your choices, you may be wondering if you get financial benefits. You may wonder: Do you get paid to homeschool?
The answer to this question depends on where you live and what form of homeschooling you are using. In the perspective most people are probably asking, no, parents do not get paid to homeschool. The decision to homeschool is considered a private choice, not employment, therefore, there is no financial compensation. Some states, however, do offer stipends or minimal tax deductions to aid in financial obligations.
How Much Does It Cost to Homeschool?
Starting to homeschool can be overwhelming. You’re the one choosing the curriculum and you’ve taken on the role of parent, principal and teacher. You may ask yourself, is it worth it? That really depends on your goals. While you will not be making money by homeschooling your child, perhaps you could save some. Let’s talk about some of the practical costs associated with homeschooling.
The little things add up. There can be many hidden fees when it comes to any form of education, and homeschooling is no exception. According to a study done by Time4Learning.com, the average cost of homeschooling per child ranges between $700-$1800. These costs break down to cover:
- Field trips
Combine these with how all-in you want to go – do you want to dedicate a room in your house to being a classroom? Are you going to decorate it? Will your student need a desk? And for each child you have, you repeat each of these costs. The good news is, you can often reuse materials if you have multiple children, which can save on overall costs.
What’s the Cheapest Option?
If money is tight, what is the cheapest option for your child’s education? If you’ve decided to homeschool in a two-parent household, chances are that you’re living on a single income. You’re already paying for public school with your taxes, so any amount you spend to homeschool your children is going to come out of your own pocket simultaneously to the public school resources you are not utilizing.
For this reason, public school is typically the cheapest option. If you need to bring in extra income, you can work while your child is at school, and you can pack their lunch to save money. This also saves you the mental demands of being a teacher. Parenting is a lot of responsibility, and teachers can play a big part in your child’s life. Filling both of those large rolls can be exhausting, but worth it.
While you may not receive salaried or hourly pay for homeschooling, there can be financial incentives or assistance depending on your state homeschooling laws and program your children are attending. It is important to note, however, that if you live in a state that provides stipends for homeschooling, this goes towards your child’s educational expenses and is in no way comparative to an income.
You may also get some breaks when it comes to taxes if you decide to homeschool. These are not significant, but they can help ease some financial strain. As of 2022, states that offer any kind of tax breaks for homeschooling include:
Remember, homeschooling does not exempt you from the state and local taxes that pay for public schools. Regardless of your educational decision, all laws still apply. Keep this in mind when planning your budget or asking if homeschooling will be a more financially-feasible option for your family.
If you don’t have the added benefit of being paid, why choose to homeschool? Parents have a variety of reasons they may choose to provide their child with a private, home-based education. It can have many benefits, including:
- Control over curriculum and worldview
- Individualized attention
- Your student can freely move at their own pace
- Schedule flexibility
Of course, some of those pros may be cons if homeschooling is not right for your child. For example, some students learn best when they are given deadlines and structure. As much as you can provide this at home, it will not be the same as an independent institution. Some children thrive more when their home lives are separated from their school lives. You may decide to homeschool one child, but put your other child in public school. You may decide to pull them out of public school to homeschool them temporarily if your lifestyle changes. While you certainly don’t want to dysregulate your child by continuously changing their environment, it’s important to remember that any schooling option you choose can change.
Fears of Homeschooling
Along with the celebrating benefits of homeschooling, you may also have some worries. While this option certainly has its benefits, it also comes with concerns and downsides. Know your child enough to know which choice is right for both of you. If you decide to go the homeschooling route, you may face some of these common fears:
- My child will have no social skills
- My child will be shy and have no friends
- My child will fall behind (homeschooling actually gives many children the opportunity to get ahead)
- I don’t know enough to homeschool
Just as parents cannot know exactly how their children will adapt to public or private school, they cannot know exactly how they will respond to being schooled at home. For some children, homeschooling gives them the opportunities to be more heavily involved in extracurricular, volunteer or community activities (parks and rec centers are a great place to start if your child is interested in sports). They can thrive just as much, if not more so, with the freedom and capacity of a homeschooling schedule. It depends on their disposition and whether or not it’s a good fit – just like anything else.
As for not knowing enough to homeschool. If you finished high school, then you are equipped to guide your child through their education. Certainly, there are going to be subjects and tasks you do not remember. But particularly if your child is in elementary school, handling the start of their education – while not easy – is quite accessible. There are thousands of resources and co-ops that offer video instruction or in-person learning for the subjects and grade levels you feel unsure of.
How Do I Start?
If you’re new to homeschooling, the amount of resources available may be overwhelming. A good way to begin is by asking someone with personal experience. Find a local co-op and ask if they’d be willing to answer some questions as to how they got started and what tricks they’ve learned along the way. Also, check out your state’s homeschooling laws. These can offer guidance to ensure both you and your child are set up for success.
It is important to note that in choosing to homeschool, you are not dropping all your chances at an income. There are ways to make money in homeschooling. Some co-ops or charter programs pay you to teach. You can also tutor privately, offer music lessons or sell any extra textbooks you are no longer using. These rarely equate to a liveable wage, but can be a great resource to pull in extra funds!
The benefits of homeschooling are rarely financial ones, though of course, each family and child is different. If you are looking to save money, homeschooling is most likely not your best option. But if you are willing to take on the responsibility for your student’s education and you would find that rewarding, there are many resources and communities available. Each child is unique in every way – and their educational needs are no exception. Always continue to learn and you will be prepared to assist your child in whatever role you take.