How To Choose Curriculum for Your Homeschool: Balancing Cost with Practicality

In our homeschool, we do Classical Education based on the book, "The Well-Trained Mind." I have tweaked the curriculum selections of the author a good bit with the following things in mind:

  1. Although the author, Susan Wise Bauer, seems to have a Christian worldview, she believes the choice to take a religious slant with a child's education to be the choice of each parent. Therefore, her suggestions tend to be on the secular side. I have supplemented my children's education with materials portraying a Christian worldview.
  2. I have four children, so my curriculum choices will reflect this. Selections I make will tend to have little teacher preparation time. Selections will prefer student independence, instead of hand-in-hand instruction in the older grades. There will be a few DVDs! We have to do what we have to do to keep the toddler busy and the preschooler happy and the younger ones intrigued and the older ones learning!
  3. My husband has one full-time job, and I stay home to educate the kids... so we are a one-income family. We will not be purchasing extravagant science kits. That being said, I think quality materials are important. I don't know about your family, but my kids, minivan, and I can really work over the cover of a book! I will always be on the prowl for a used book, a sale, or free shipping. We make one purchase in the spring with $300 of our tax refund. My parents give the kids a $300 "scholarship" each year for school materials. And we scrape together $300 a year (sometimes I do childcare for a week for a friend, or sell something on E-bay) for another $300 order each year.

It has been about $1000 a year for us so far. If you think about it, some people spend $500 a month on private school (for one child). Some people spend over $100 a month on designer clothes, shoes, accessories and accoutrements to fund the public school lifestyle. I think that less than $100 a month to educate four kids is pretty good. I confess that I like to own books and not check them out of the library. You may prefer to hunt them down at the library after finding a title you like. I just don't want to do that every other year though, as my kids each roll through each grade.

A few things to keep in mind when you analyze the cost of homeschooling:

  • How many children will use these materials? Divide the cost of each book by the number of children who will use it and come up with the real cost-per-child.
  • Do you plan on reselling them when your family is through with them?
  • Will your children take care of them (to be able to resell them)?
  • Is this book consumable or re-usable?
  • Are grandparents willing to give scholarships of any amount?
  • What do your public schooled parents spend each month?
  • What does private school cost in your area?

I am sure these questions and ideas will get your brain working and you will be able to choose the best materials for your family’s education.

Teresa Dear is a homeschooling mother of four. She and her husband do not worry about socialization. You can follow the blog exploration of Classical Christian Education in general and their homeschool lifestyle in particular at Teresa divides her time between education, the home, shopping for curriculum, and stocking her storefront where you can find handmade cards and vintage photos.

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