Parents face a new journey this fall, as many school districts have opted for hybrid learning programs, and many others are voluntarily keeping their children home due to the concern of potential outbreaks in the classroom.
Between the mental and financial cost of homeschooling, making the choice to become a parent, teacher, and full-time worker is a lot, but you can make it work for your family. Here’s how to plan, save money, and reduce your stress load:
How much does homeschooling cost per day?
It’s difficult to put a dollar amount on the per day cost of homeschooling. The number can vary based on where you live and how you plan to structure your child’s lessons.
Every state has different requirements regarding whether you need to register your child as a homeschool student and the required curriculum. If your school district has mandated part-time homeschooling, they may provide resources and guidance on what to do at home. But if you’re opting to homeschool full-time, it’s a good idea to check out your state requirements, according to Homeschool.com.
Once you have that information, you’ll need to choose a curriculum and purchase the materials such as books, online courses, and videos. Beyond the curriculum, other costs may include media subscriptions, tutors, and any paid extracurricular activities. Homeschool costs can range from under $100 to more than $500 per semester, depending on the materials you purchase and the programs and activities you choose for your kids.
- 826 Digital: A writing resource for students in grades one-12
- Duolingo: A free language learning app and website
- Scholastic Learn at Home: A site with age-appropriate articles and reading activities for students in pre-K through grade nine
You can also borrow books from your local library, along with audiobooks and digital copies of magazines. There are also plenty of podcasts you can download for free about history, music, and writing, among other subjects. If you’ve got young kids at home who need to be occupied while you teach the older ones, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library sends free books to children who are under school age.
How to prepare for a homeschooled semester
As the fall semester approaches, you may be feeling the stress of working from home while preparing to homeschool your kids (not to mention the anticipatory stress over having to educate them while holding down your job). That’s understandable. It’s no small task you’re undertaking.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you get to supplement your children’s education during school courses, really helping them grasp new concepts in ways that will stick with them. Homeschooling can even be a bonding experience, as you’ll be spending time talking about what they’re learning in ways you might not have before.
The best thing you can do for yourself right now is to prepare and to accept that there will be a learning curve for you as your child’s instructor. Here’s how you can set yourself up for success:
Be patient with yourself and with the kids. These are uncharted waters for both of you, so let yourself laugh and breathe through moments of frustration and confusion. You’re doing your best to adapt and ensure that your kids are learning, and that’s enough. In fact, the tough days may be opportunities to model self-care and emotional communication.
2. Save money for supplies if you can
You can reduce the cost of homeschooling by planning (as much as possible). Make a list of everything you think you’ll need for the coming semester, such as laptops, notebooks, extra chargers, and subscriptions to online learning programs or tools.
Once you know what you need, see what you have on hand. Scour the closets and junk drawers for pens, pencils, markers, crayons, half-used notebooks — all of these can reduce your homeschooling budget. And don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Everyday items may come in handy or can be used for potential lessons. For instance, cooking and baking are great ways to teach fractions and measurements in tangible ways.
3. Buy used devices or share with neighbors
If you do have to buy a new laptop or tablet, check out online marketplaces or ask friends and family if they have a device they no longer use that they’d be willing to sell at a good price.
Barring that, check in with other parents in your neighborhood who are homeschooling. Perhaps you can swap equipment or resources a few times a week so both of your families can save some money.
You can also check in with local charities or with your children’s teachers about where to find free or inexpensive technology. They may be able to suggest resources for refurbished or older devices that cost less than brand new ones.
4. Create a schedule
One of the best things you can do for your kids (and yourself) on homeschool days is to act like these are regular school days. Have them get up at the same time, get dressed, and eat breakfast just as they would before heading to the classroom. Make a class schedule for each child, taking into account the different materials each will need.
Maintaining a schedule will provide structure for your days, and it will help you keep track of what everyone is supposed to be doing and when. But be flexible and adapt as you go. If you’ve overpacked the schedule, adjust course the following week. Review your goals and figure out what’s realistic based on how many kids you’re homeschooling and on your own work schedule.
5. Communicate with your children’s teachers
If you’re on a hybrid plan and you can’t seem to keep up with your kids’ lessons at home, let your child’s teacher know. The teachers may have advice for how to present difficult concepts, and they can tell you which lessons are most important to get across. You can then prioritize based on their feedback. Teachers know how tough this is, and they want your kids to keep learning even when they’re at home. Remember that you’re on the same side and enlist them as your allies.
6. Establish a support group
You’re not the only parent struggling to balance homeschooling and work. Reach out to the other parents in your kids’ classes and set up a private Facebook group or group chat where you can trade ideas, ask for help, or simply commiserate. Hearing that someone else is confused about a math concept in their third grader’s book or that another parent is already at their wit’s end on a Monday will make you feel less alone.
As with your children’s teachers, the other parents are your allies. You’re all trying to do the best thing for your kids during a very strange time, so don’t feel like you need to figure this out alone.