Other posts in this series:
The Cost of Homeschooling, Part 1
We completed preschool. The curriculum we had chosen included teacher materials through second grade. Things were going well. So with very little out of pocket expense for kindergarten, we pressed on. At the end of our second year homeschooling, our daughter's kindergarten year, we made a major decision. We would continue homeschooling through high school. Looking back, I marvel that we thought we understood life well enough to make such a major commitment. We were young parents. Full of ideals and conviction. More than a schooling choice, we viewed our decision to teach our children at home as a decision based on scripture.
Deuteronomy 6: 4-8
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."
For us, the best way to share with our children what we wanted them to know about God was to take full responsibility for their education.
We never faced the annual "Are we going to continue to homeschool?" questions. Year after year, we consider no other option. There might have been strengths to evaluating the choice periodically for each child. I admire families that walk through the decision making process annually, trusting for the Lord direction. That hasn't been our story. We set our compass on the course, and plodded along. Good years. Bad years. And as we traveled, we realized quickly that our goals heavily influenced the cost of homeschooling.
We spent our money with a long term focus. We invested in tools for learning like computers and microscopes. We saw desks to sit at, throw pillow for reading corners, and couches for cuddling as part of "school." We looked for curriculum that would span many grades or many students. We bought a family membership at the community rec center to do PE in the winter. We bought fresh art supplies, an abundance of paper, and made sure our library card was current. We bought new toys, puzzles, and games. We saw school money not as an amount just for books, notebooks, and pencils - but money to make life richer. We spent every penny possible to make home a place our children wanted to be. A place I wanted to be.
Since we knew we were going to spend everyday with our children for years, we ventured into accumulating resources to help us with character building and spiritual development. A new chore chart for a primary student. A week long leadership camp for a high schooler. School didn't just include teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic - but also training the heart.
We invested in ourselves and our marriage.
We got a sense early on that one of the cost of homeschooling was going to be additional wear and tear on our marriage. It is a simple reality. With the added responsibility comes added challenges and stress. Each year a small portion of our school money was spent on things that edified us individually and as a couple. A new devotional, a book on the importance of fatherhood, a crockpot cookbook. Tools that helped us, as parents, stay healthy for the long haul. Those were probably the best dollars spent.