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.
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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