A Homeschool Budget

Here is a question that was posed to me on Facebook:

“Kristy–just curious–about how much is a good annual budget for homeschool materials per student? We have three children, and are starting kindergarten this fall with our oldest. Just wondering about how much to tell the hubs to plan for each summer for purchasing what we need.

My initial answer was very vague – $0 to $1000 per year per student.  There are a few things that you need to determine before setting a budget.  First, of course, is your financial capabilities, but many people forget to factor in time.  You know the saying “Time is Money”?  Well, this is where the variance comes into play.  If you have more time than money, your budget can stay pretty low.  If you don’t have very much time, then your money will be more valuable investing into curriculum.

Realistically though, I know it is important to have a good picture of what you are going to need.  For kindergarten, you should have your least expensive and least time consuming year of all.  Probably the largest chunk of your homeschool budget will probably go towards a math curriculum, because you will want the workbooks and the manipulatives at this age.  I would plan for $120.  Of course, again, if you have more time (probably not with 2 younger children), you can find free math worksheets online and use things in your home for manipulatives (i.e. candy, measuring cups, toys).

For reading, I enjoyed using the guidebooks like Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons which averages around $25 (cheaper if you buy it used).  Of course, some people like using A Beka’s reading program which will get you into the $100-150 range with all the books and handbook and teacher’s guide. With Teach Your Child to Read..., I use that book for the first two years, and I use the library (FREE) for exercise in reading.  A Beka or something like it will mean a fresh batch of books (readers) each year.  Some people even use online sites like Starfall and don’t pay a penny!

For handwriting, you really shouldn’t spend more than $50.  That includes a workbook and a teacher’s guide, as well as some manipulatives.

For grammar, which some people argue is not needed in kindergarten, I have used First Language Lessons.  This book which is curriculum for 2 years only costs about $20 (again cheaper if found used).  And, again, you can use a textbook method like A Beka or another grammar program and spend upwards to $100 for all the “stuff.”

So here’s a quick breakdown for Kindergarten:
$120 math, $25 reading, $50 handwriting, and $20 grammar totals $215.
Let’s add $85 for any science or social studies fun you want to purchase, and you could budget $300 to comfortably cover all the bases.  And, if you have some time to throw in, you could use FREE resources and use your leftover budget money for field trips!

The next 5 years will be about the same, but adding more structured grammar, writing, science, and history will put you around $500.  The good news is that your two younger children can use much of the same materials.  Right now my 3rd grader has only gotten new handwriting books each year, because we are reusing all of her older sister’s curriculum.  Copy worksheets from the workbooks (if the publisher allows) and save them for the next child.  Most publishers allow this within families.

As you get into middle school and high school, the costs will begin to rise as you hit more challenging courses that usually require DVDs, lab materials, online or outside-the-home classes, etc.  Of course, you can find FREE resources online or even at your library or thrift store, but this will take time and research on your part as well as your student’s time and research.

Now, back to my vague answer—-I have not spent this much on my curriculum each year.  There have been years when the internet was my best resource and friend, and my printer became a textbook creator.  There have also been years when I have bought used workbooks and spent my time erasing answers in order to use it with my children.  I have never felt comfortable purchasing a curriculum set from a company like A Beka or My Father’s World or Sonlight—probably because I know that I can gather those materials myself for cheaper or even FREE using my local library.  But, some people don’t have that desire or time, and they choose to spend upwards to $1000 for someone to give them everything in a box.

Ultimately, you want to give your children the best, and I advise you to be wise with your time and money.  Don’t waste time you don’t have trying to save a couple of pennies.  Be honest with yourself with what you have available and “spend” your time and money well!

For curriculum reviews and links to FREE curriculum choices, click here.