Cost of Homeschooling - Part 3
One thing we could not have known when we made the decision to homeschool through high school was the cost to homeschool would increase annually. This lesson was learned in math class.
We tackled math first thing each morning. At the height of my teaching load, I taught four math lessons at various levels from Kindergarten to Algebra 2. We had long since settled on one math curriculum - putting each child through the same texts as the sibling before. To ease my teaching time, we combined two children close in grade level, bumping a son up to do the same curriculum as an older brother. For years, they progressed well together, but when testosterone and all its competitiveness arrived the same year as Pre-Algebra, we had war brewing.
It was the first time we realized what worked for the first child might not be the best solution for all younger siblings. One of the jr. high boys was clearly a more hands-on learner than his brother. I evaluated math programs. Called friends. Asked to see teacher's manuals. Read catalogs. As we prepared for the next year, we faced a choice: Would we teach the curriculum or the child? We had Algebra 1 curriculum in house. It was a great fit for one son, but not the other. It was painful writing the check at the homeschool fair for a new publisher's Algebra 1 series. In many ways, it felt like we were throwing away resources. We scratched other items off our list and walked away the proud owners of two completely different Algebra 1 programs. I dreaded the following fall - teaching Algebra 1 twice every morning.
It was a needed lesson. It caused me to see my children as the unique individuals God created them to be. It allowed us to redefine our goals in homeschooling - to meet their individual needs and learning styles. But it cost more. Homeschooling provided opportunity for a customized education, but implementing such a program meant our homeschool budget continued to rise. High school electives ranged from small engine repair to music theory. What one child loved did not interest the next. Somehow - through only a God ordained combination of what we had, what we borrowed, what we found used, and what we paid full price - our needs were met. While our costs rose, so did His perfect provision.
The costs didn't stop rising. It wasn't long before our students outsmarted us - literally. In some subjects, they needed more than we could offer at home. We looked into enrolling them in college courses. The cost frightened us - tuition, books, parking, gas. They were only high school students. It would make little sense to itemize out our expenses for these years - it would scare away the preschool mom from ever venturing forth in her first curriculum purchase.
But the lesson was not simply in math class. Yes, we had to plan and make wise purchases. But regardless the bottom line total, year after year we've seen God faithfully provide the financial resources to meet the cost of homeschooling. The real life cost of homeschooling? Self-reliance must be replaced with reliance on God. Daily to teach the children. Yearly to afford the supplies.