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Homeschool Blog | Poor? Don’t Bother Homeschooling

I see a lot of arguments that homeschooling, especially for reasons that aren’t religious, is only for the rich. Homeschooling is a “luxury” that most people can’t afford, and we affluent people are the reason that public schools are so bad. If we sent our kids to school and spent all of our resources and influence making the system better, everyone would benefit.

I get it. I understand you’re bitter that you have to go to a job to pay your bills and your kids are paying the price by not getting the individualized attention my kids are. And I agree that many public schools could benefit from more parental involvement. But I love spending these years with my kids and I just don’t want to send them to school, even if the school was awesome (which many are) and I played an active role in it. It’s just not what I want right now. Sorry.

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Homeschooling Confession

So here’s a fact that might surprise you: I am a homeschooler and I am SO not rich. I’m so far from rich, I can’t even see it with binoculars! Though both my husband and I are college educated, I have never had a ‘career’ and my husband works in a dying industry. According to census.gov, we are just above the median income for our state. “Just above” meaning within a few thousand dollars, not like ten or twenty thousand more. I talk with a lot of homeschoolers in our area and I’d say my experience is pretty normal. I know a few families with incomes significantly higher and I know many with significantly lower. We come from all walks of life, but I promise you, at least in my area, homeschooling is not reserved for the wealthy.

Homeschooling is a sacrifice. For us homeschooling is about driving an older car, living in a less affluent neighborhood, and using everything up. It’s about meal planning and couponing. It’s about making food from scratch instead of buying convenience foods or ordering out. Sometimes it is hard. Sometimes my kids can’t participate in every extracurricular they’d like because the money isn’t there. Sometimes I can’t go out for drinks with the girls. Sometimes my date night with hubby consists of renting a movie from Redbox and ordering a pizza.

The fact is I know I could go get a job in my field and nearly double our income. Yes, I do feel a twinge of guilt when I look at our finances and know that we wouldn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck if only I’d put these two little crazies in school. But as long as there is a way to put food on the table without doing that, I won’t. To our family, being together and allowing them to learn in their own ways is more important than the extra money.

So, is homeschooling a luxury? Is it something that lower to middle income people cannot do? In our house, buying prepackaged bread is a luxury. Cable or satellite television is a luxury. Car payments are a luxury. Educating my children? That is a necessity.


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Stephanie is a homeschool writer, speaker, and consultant in Central Indiana. When not writing, speaking, consulting, and homeschooling, she enjoys reading, baking, hiking, and sleeping. Mostly sleeping.

8 Comments

  1. Ariene

    May 11, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Do you know how many families struggle to feed their children even with both parents working? Please don’t flippantly blow off the millions of Americans who could never afford the luxury of one parent staying home. I think it’s totally fine that you are doing homeschooling, but please don’t ignore the facts.

  2. PsPArent

    April 9, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Curious what horrible experiences you guys had in public school system that turned you so against it? I definitely remember some bad experiences myself, but most of them could have been resolved through more proactive parenting and a few hours of one on one tutoring each week. This would enable us to actually save for retirement and not be a burden on our children when we age and are poor. My daughter is two and we already have her in daycare/preschool 9 hours a day. She loves it and we are saving an entire income this way.

    • Jacqueline Wilson

      April 11, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      For me, I had a “normal” traditional school experience growing up — ups and downs, probably the same as most people. My decision to homeschool wasn’t because public school is awful. In fact, I don’t believe homeschooling is for everyone. However, I believe that the majority of traditional public schools now only teach to test. Meaning, that they are teaching so that students pass state testing in order to receive funding. Partner that up with the loss (or decrease) of many important educational tools — art, music and even recess — and I believe that I can give my daughter a much better, well-rounded education and life skills training than just sitting at a desk and learning to test.

  3. Jackie from Little Cooks Reading Books

    October 21, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Have you heard how much it costs public schooled kids to play sports/join in activities now? GAH! LOL

  4. Crystal

    October 21, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I love this. You are so right – almost every homeschool family I know has had to make a sacrifice. For me, it’s totally worth it.

    I had someone lecture me just the other day about how my local school district “needed” my kids and their high test scores. No, my kids need the best education they can get, and for our situation that means homeschooling. I think a system that “needs” high-achievers test scores for a school to succeed is a flawed system, don’t you?

  5. Christin

    October 19, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I know many families that are scraping by just trying to pay the bills, so they are not part of this “elite group of affluent” homeschoolers. I would argue that very few of the homeschoolers I know fall into a high income category, in fact it is just the opposite. There are resources from FREE to very expensive when it comes to choosing curriculum and activities for your children, so we all do what works best for us.

  6. Angela D

    October 19, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    LOVE THIS! Although I would still be staying home at this point because my youngest isn’t school age, I know my husband was kind of planning on me going back to work when they were both in school. Our decision to go with a blended school program kind of blew that plan for now so I’m trying to find ways to earn a bit while still teaching the girls. I totally relate to feeling a bit guilty because money wouldn’t be so tight if I went out and got a job.

  7. Jacqueline Wilson

    October 19, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Huh. I NEVER even considered cost (too high or saving aspects) when deciding to homeschool. Interesting. I had no idea that it was this big of a discussion within the homeschooling decision circles. Great post and food for thought. Thanks for sharing.