Why is homeschooling expensive? We show you the numbers!

save money on homeschooling

If you think homeschooling is expensive you are correct, it is! But why is it more expensive when you just do it at home? Read on for the details.

Homeschooling is expensive because the curriculums, textbooks, materials, your homeschool space, and loss of income all contribute to the high costs of homeschool. The added costs of outside classes, tutoring, music, arts and other extracurricular activities are also expensive.   

How can it be that it could be so expensive to teach your child at home? No matter what, education is expensive whether you send your child to public, private, or homeschool. 

We added up the costs of the textbooks for the first grade for our child just studying language arts, math, and science and you could spend over $377 for the books alone! I didn’t even get to the recommended books suggested for reading and the manipulatives for math classes. You can easily add another $150 to $200 for these added items. Although you will see that The Good and The Beautiful curriculum for Language Arts from Level 1-5 is free for download in PDF format. You still must print it out. If you buy the hard copy from them directly or print it out yourself, it still costs around the amount we mentioned. 

The total cost from the copy shop was $125 for color printing of the coursebook, the reader, and the flashcards. We printed the flashcard out on slightly thicker paper and the reader and coursebook were bound in the spiral type binder. So although the curriculum is listed as free, which is great, the cost is for you to print out yourself. In the beginning, we are fine with this since we can get the material immediately, rather than having them shipped to us. But the cost is expensive for the textbooks and curriculum. Even if it is listed as free, there is still a cost of printing the hard copies of over 700 pages of color pages and flashcards!

The math curriculum costs $98.96 at the time of writing or nearly $100 for the coursebook, activity book, and manipulatives. Once you add shipping in my case to send it abroad it comes to over $131 for the whole kit for Level 1 math. That is almost the same cost as if I chose the PDF version and the total cost plus printing is nearly the same. So it’s expensive when you compare it to what it costs if you go to a public school in our town. Just language arts, math, and science textbooks using this curriculum are expensive at $377! You can be the judge of the value of the curriculum and if it’s worth it for your child and situation. 

Below is based on our research and actual values for homeschooling our 1st grader.     

Language ArtsWritingMathScienceGrand Total
Curriculum Expenses

*Language Arts-supplementary reading books if we bought. You can also try the library to check out

Materials for Language Arts and Math are Expensive

Supplementary materials for language arts can be expensive. We use the curriculum already mentioned and it comes with a coursebook, a reading book, and flashcards. However if you also add up any other recommended reading books, that will be more expensive. So don’t forget that there may be some hidden costs you might not have considered. You may be able to find some good reading materials in your local library. So you won’t necessarily have to buy every book. Although this depends on how close or how well-stocked your library is. We are living abroad and some English books are just not available in our local library.

In the math curriculum, you will need manipulatives to go along with your coursework. You may purchase these usually directly from the curriculum provider. Sometimes you may be able to buy them separately locally if you can find a reliable substitute. Each curriculum will likely have slightly different requirements so you have to do your homework. The math curriculums are more expensive than some of the other courses! The Good and The Beautiful has a good option where they have modified them. So the manipulatives can be downloaded and you print and cut them out, or substitute things on your own. But some math courses require blocks, shapes, clocks, and other real items that need to be bought. For example, like Saxon math, there are manipulative kits that cost over $68 and a Teacher’s guide that costs over $90.

Materials for Science in Homeschooling Expensive

The science curriculum we chose is free for download at The Good and The Beautiful. We printed it out in color a the local copy shop since it’s probably better quality than our home printer can print out. It only cost $20 since it was 111pages. The topic is Marine Biology and it is super that it’s free! But there is a cost of the materials you will need to prepare during the lessons. We estimated about $50 after flipping through the coursebook. It may be more or less, but remember this is only at the 1st-grade level. As you progress through the higher grades, the science, chemistry, and physics courses will require more expensive supplies for the experiments. 

Imagine the test tube, bunsen burners, and the chemical needed for the chemistry experiments you may run at home. Now if you join an outside class in your local school or co-op, then you may not need to buy those materials. But the class will cost you for sure. And how about biology class and all of the equipment and supplies needed for studying? A nice microscope may cost $50-100 on Amazon. The sciences will always cost more than most of the other subjects over time and they can be expensive if you do everything at home.

We got this one online and is reasonable in price at around $40. It’s the Discovery Planet microscope kit. Be careful though, because there are a lot of pieces and I think our son has already lost a few!

Discovery Planet microscope kit

Open and Go Curriculum Costly

If you look for another open-and-go curriculum they are all pretty expensive. Let’s take Bookshark for example. If you go and check out their Level A program, which is the first-grade level, it costs $710 for the whole package. They send you everything you need like the texts books and everything. That is the cost per child and there is a lot of material for the 36-week course. It comes with readers, history, science, math, language arts, handwriting, and all the kits that you will need for science and math. 

They essentially package many other books and resources together which is very convenient for you. You could get many of the books they use, but they have also arranged all of this for you and it comes with a teacher’s guide. This may be helpful if you are not sure how to approach the lessons with your child. This integration and added value of instruction are what make this package curriculum so expensive. You can read about their methodology here which is pretty cool if you can afford it. 

Private Tutors for Homeschooling is Costly

If some of the classes you will have your child learn are beyond the abilities you have, the private tutors are expensive. They come to your house and charge by the hour so they most likely include transportation fees into the equation. But some courses are hard like the advanced sciences, chemistry, physics, and advanced maths like algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. They will require someone who can explain these equations and formulas along with all the word problems to your children. Unless you are capable, you have to pay!

Take Tutors International, for example, they offer part-time and full-time plans for their tutors. Some of the prices I saw there were astronomical, over $100,000 per year! But, the good news, they claim they are the leader in this industry for providing the best and most qualified private tutors. And if you check out Sylvan Learning it will cost you at least a minimum of $49 per hour for tutoring but maybe more depending on the level and requirements. You might find some other options out there like learning with other families and with a co-operative but these have a cost associated as well. Any way you look at it, there is a cost and it’s expensive for the private tutoring in homeschooling.

Classical Conversations Community Homeschooling Expensive

You might have heard of co-operatives or co-ops for short. And you might have also heard about more organized community programs like Classical Conversations. You can see that they are much more organized and also more expensive than the typical co-ops you will find in your neighborhood. The yearly costs are quite high and seem expensive to me. There are membership fees and various other fees and costs to consider. And then you will need to participate in the classes and there are other fees like a facility fee. That is determined by which particular branch you join.  

The tuition for a child is $1000 per year and that is just for starters, not including all the other group fees, uniforms, snacks, and BOOKS! You can look around online to find all kinds of price estimates but basically, it’s like any of the other curriculums in our opinion. Expect to pay close to the same amount as any other open-and-go curriculum. It’s expensive when you add up everything, tuition, fees, books, supply fee, and the time. They do meet every week and the support network is there. So if you are into this type of co-op or program they are not cheap!

Online Homeschooling Curriculum Can be Expensive Too!

If you search around for some of the best-rated and accredited homeschooling programs you will certainly come across Liberty and Enlightium and they are expensive! Both of these programs offer a full range of classes and have special options for assisted learning. That means you have access to them and a teacher if you have issues. How much does it cost? Only a whopping $549 per month for starters at Liberty! But they do offer financing options if you need some help so there is hope for some. 

“Our certified teachers and responsible staff can help you nurture and educate your student in an ideal learning environment. When you work with us, you’ll have access to all the resources and materials you need to give your student a quality education that will prepare them for the future.”

Liberty Online Academy

This level of support undoubtedly will cost a fortune, so expect to pay for what you get. If you need this level of service then it probably is just right for you! Better than private school tuition for sure. When you look at Enlightium’s offering it’s more down to earth, but still expensive at $1500 to over $2000 per year for tuition. You can check out their packages and level of support at this link

Homeschool Space for Your Child is Expensive

The cost of a good desk and chair for your homeschool space is expensive! And then add the shelves and all of the ancillary equipment for your homeschool like a computer, good quality printer all add up. If you have the space to make 1 room, especially for your homeschooler, that is perfect. It should be a quiet place with no distractions and preferably without a window, but that’s up to you. We also wrote a helpful article about how to get started in homeschooling if you are new to the game. Your homeschool space ideally should also be separate from their room if possible. Sleeping and learning areas should be kept separate in our opinion.

The space we chose was ideal, and it’s near the dining room and kitchen. We can keep an eye on our son while he’s working even if we are preparing food. At his age, he requires more attention and actual teaching, so it’s good he is in a central location in our home. And there are no windows nearby for him to daydream. The cost of the new Ikea desk we just got him was reasonable and about $100 at the time of writing. The chairs are about $20 each and we modified them by ourselves to make them stronger. The rest of the shelves, mobile containers, and lamps are expensive at another $150. We say expensive since we rarely buy anything new and we try to buy something that lasts, so the total was $270 for the homeschool space and furniture. 

Total Cost of Homeschooling is Expensive in Our First Year

If we added up all the costs of the curriculum, supplies, and homeschool space and furniture it comes to over $647 so far. We did not add every item to this calculation. Some items really didn’t matter if we were doing homeschool or a traditional school, you would need them anyway. Where we live, public school is basically free! And the only expenses would be if there were some special activity fees or uniforms. The public school here are well funded and most parents don’t need to spend much of anything. Do consider these essential expenses, as it is more expensive than you might expect! If not, that’s great! 

Our family is just getting started with homeschooling and we feel it is expensive compared to our other option of public school. Another 12 years of homeschooling will add up for sure especially as the curriculum requirements increase. The textbook and supplies will all become more expensive as we progress to more advanced lessons. There will also be a need for outside classes and tutoring that we haven’t started yet, so that is an added expense. The extracurricular activities so far we believe we would do anyway so we didn’t include that either. Dance lessons are at the weekend and they are reasonably priced.  

Our Research for Total Costs for Homeschooling

Homeschool expenseCostNote
Curriculum$257Language Arts, Math, Science
Supplies$120Science supplies, manipulatives, readers
Homeschool Space & Furniture$270Study desk, lamp, chairs, shelves, mobile containers
Outside Classes?Could cost $100+/semester
Tutoring Costs?Could cost $49/per hour
Extracurricular Costs?Music, Art, Soccer expenses?
Loss of income?How much do you lose out on per year?
Total Homeschool Expenses$647
Our Research for Total Homeschool Expenses

The cost of homeschooling in total also does not include a potential loss of income. We think this is quite obvious and each family has its own unique situation. So we didn’t think it was necessary to elaborate. But as a kind reminder, that is an economic loss for sure unless you were not working in the first place or you had no intention of working. If you think that homeschooling is of course for the benefit of your child, family, and yourself, then go for it! But homeschooling can be expensive so look out and consider the pitfalls of homeschooling. Hey, we have a great helpful article just about that and how to avoid the pitfalls of homeschooling

Robert Dad

I'm Robert "Daddy" Macias the father of 3 wonderful kids. I am embarking on a new journey of homeschooling and green living. I realized my wife and mothers all over the world were doing this all by themselves. So I realized as a dad, I must jump into action!

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