Sunday, August 28, 2011

You're Not Homeschooling Because....You Can't Afford It

I hear from lots of people who are interested in keeping their children out of school, but they have numerous reasons for not doing it.  This week I will explore some of those reasons.

If you are not interested in homeschooling, please feel free to browse the links in my sidebar and come back next week for more stories of authentic parenting and natural living.

Let me tell you a true story.

One of my friends is the single mother of a 6-year-old boy.  She chose to have a child in her late 30s after having a well-established career and achieving financial stability.  She imagined that she would return to work when her baby was 12 months old, as most Canadian women do, and that her baby would go to daycare and later to school.

But after 12 months of mothering her son, she felt compelled to stay home with him longer.  She arranged for someone to rent her basement and she refinanced her mortgage so that she could afford to live off her savings for another year. 

But she still couldn't bring herself to leave her son in daycare, so she committed to staying home with him until he was old enough for school.  In that time, she learned more about homeschooling and she decided that the current public school system would not be able to meet her son's needs.  For a little while she began to babysit someone else's children and eventually she decided that she would need to live in a less expensive Canadian city.  She and her son moved away from Toronto and they continue to live a school-free, job-free life.


They are not receiving government assistance.  (Well, all Canadian families receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit, which varies according to how many children you have and the level of the family income.  I receive $368/month for my 4 children.)  Instead, my friend continues to live off of her meagre savings (which means she is completely depleting her retirement fund).  She budgets carefully for food.  She gets clothing for free or nearly free at thrift stores and exchanges.  She uses public transit (which is free for children in her new city).  She seeks free entertainment and learning opportunites for her son at public libraries and festivals.  When she travels, she stays with friends, offering her help in exchange for hospitality.

What's your point, Patti?

Where there's a will, there's a way.  If you truly believe, as I do, that school will harm your child, or that school already IS harming your child, then there is a way for you to keep your child home.  You can find a way to give up a second income, or even a primary income.

But Patti, we are used to a certain standard of living.  My kids expect vacations and meals in restaurants and movies and brand-name clothing.  We can't give up our car.  Our mortgage costs A LOT.  We need a second income just to break even.

I know.  Making major changes to the way you spend money is HARD.  My family is very lucky to live comfortably on one teacher's salary.  But the reason we are comfortable is because of the choices we've made.  Until this month, we drove a 2002 Honda Civic which holds just 5 people although we are a family of six.  We don't eat out or even buy pre-made foods from the grocery store.  My children wear mostly hand-me-downs.  Our home is a 2-bedroom bungalow in low-end neighbourhood. 

The truth is, I LIKE the finer things of life.  I like vacations and expensive leather shoes, boots and jackets.  I like beautiful furniture and lattes and nice cars.  With two teacher's salaries coming in, we could be living pretty lavishly (i.e. if I were working).  But my Family Mission Statement says that I choose Freedom and Joy.  If I have to go to work everyday and drop off my children to school and daycare, I have no Freedom and very little Joy. 

I can't tell you how to save money so that you can afford to keep your kids out of school.  But I can tell you that you CAN save money.  You can live cheaper.  You can afford to give up some things so that your kids can stay out of school.

It is possible.  My friend has proven it.

What financial sacrifices have you made so that you can homeschool with your children?


  1. We haven't quite gotten to homeschooling yet (although I suppose we're unschooling!), but we've made some changes in order for me to stay home. We have $18/month in our restaurant budget, where it used to be $40, for example. I agree, if homeschooling is truly what you desire, you can find a way. For my grandparents, Catholic school was a priority for them. They figured out a way to put all nine children through Catholic school on a professor's salary. My parents put the three of us through Catholic school on one salary. Homeschooling is much cheaper than that!

  2. Man, what financial sacrifices *haven't* we made so I can stay home!?? Food stamps, government medical care, and living a very, very minimal lifestyle are just a few of the adjustments we made when we went do two incomes that brought in over $50,000/year to one that only brings in around $19,000. We moved to a town that is much cheaper to live in, which helped tremendously. Sacrifices galore, but every one worth it for me to be home with my little man. Homeschooling won't start "officially" for a few years, but we're learning together every day.

  3. @Adrienne
    Wow. Thanks for telling about the sacrifices your family is making. I think it's important for other families who are thinking about homeschooling to know that there ARE other families out there who are able to make sacrifices to keep their kids out of school. BTW, do you want to move to Canada? It's pretty nice here.....
    Did you know that the province of Ontario has two fully funded education systems? One is non-denominational and the other is CATHOLIC. Just thought you'd like to know...

  4. I started reading your current post about homeschooling, then found this one, because it's really my only roadblock (or so I think). My son isn't even 2 yet, but I think about homeschooling a lot. I'm really inspired to hear how you live (single not-huge income, old car, small house, etc.) because it lets me know it's possible. We're already on a tight budget, so I've been worried that we won't be able to afford all the supplies, etc. that homeschooling will require (we need at least a few things!). I still have a few years to work it out...and I'll be paying attention to how you've done it!