One of the greatest hurdles to overcome in transitioning from public school to home school is the cost. There are a couple of appealing things about free public education that made the switch difficult for me: the price and the free time.
What I've come to realize is that public education isn't as free as it seems. First of all, you still have to buy school supplies, shop for new clothes, and pay for field trips and year books. As far as time goes, my heart in being in the local school was to be a light in the school. This required me being there to volunteer, being active in the PTA, and volunteering in the afternoon Kids Beach Club program.
There really is no such thing as a free lunch.
Since we've made the transition, I've learned a lot about keeping costs down and finding creative solutions for affording our version of a private education—at least in Texas, that's what home schoolers are considered.
I’m sharing some of my fears and how CC has helped me overcome them in a series on my blog. If you missed the other posts, make sure to go back and check them out.
- Fear #1: What if I forget to teach something?
- Fear #2: What if I don’t know enough?
- Fear #3: What if I’m not cut out for it?
- Fear #4: What about socialization?
- Fear #5: What if I can’t afford a private education?
Fear #5: What if I can't afford a private education?
It is easy to let the cost of educating at home scare you. If you're new to home schooling, I highly caution you of the most dangerous epidemic among home school mom: curriculum binge purchasing.
This condition generally arises when you're feeling inadequate and you're hoping that some curriculum will solve all your problems. So you over purchase to compensate for your fears. I'm guilty of this problem.
One thing I love about Classical Conversations is that the program is long range. It builds from the very beginning up through a child's senior year. Because of the built in structure, it helps limit the additional curriculum buying. I can easily follow a plan that will yield the desired rewards.
You don't need too much extra in the early years with Foundations. In Foundations and Essentials, you really just need to supplement math and reading. Once you get to the Challenge years, you don't have to supplement anything because the program covers all the subjects they'll need to graduate.
The Cost Breakdown of Joining Classical Conversations
Many people look into Classical Conversations and suffer from sticker shock. They think that they could accomplish the same thing at home for free. To me, the benefits of a community outweigh the cost of participation. Here's a simple way of looking at the price.
- If you have a student in Foundations only (4-9 year olds), you're paying about $20 per week of class. That's a little over $6 per hour. If you hired a babysitter once a week, you'd easily pay more than that.
- If you have an older student that is in Foundations and Essentials (10-12 year olds), you're paying around $40 per week of class. If you just signed them up for a music lesson, you'd pay around $40 for an hour lesson, and at CC you're getting six hours of educational and social enrichment.
- If you have a middle schooler or high schooler in the Challenge programs (12-18 years old), you're paying around $50 per week of class. At this level, CC is a full curriculum that needs no supplementing. The experiences and conversations are well worth the nominal fee.
How Do I Pay For It?
My husband and I both work for ourselves, and we're not independently wealthy. One way that we've worked at affording being a part of a CC community is by tutoring ourselves.
It's easy to get lost in the idea that you're paying for a service, so you should be able to just attend on community day receive that service. However, I've found that being a part of making the community day excellent, I enjoy it all more.
Another way to pay for it is just find another area you spend in and borrow from there. We like to eat out after church on Sundays, but if we saved that $20+ per week by just eating in, we could quickly make up the deficit.
It does get more challenging when you're paying for multiples. This year I had one in Foundations/Essentials and two in Challenge. That means my weekly cost was $140. My solution is to direct a program. It is definitely more work, but it keeps my costs down and helps me provide an amazing experience for my kids.
Truth: Cost is Relative and CC is Affordable
I might be paying more money to keep my kids at home than I would if they were enrolled in a local public school, but the investment is worth it to me. What I've gained from educating my kids are incredible relationships with each of them. I get to be present for all of their successes and milestones. I get to cheer them on when they're struggling.
Another side benefit is what I am shielding them from by not running in a crowd of kids their age. I still expose them to the ideas of the world, but at a pace that they can handle and with a Biblical perspective. That is something I'll happily pay for.
Has my investment in Classical Conversations programs been worth it? Absolutely. If you've looked into actual private education tuition, it can range from $6,000 to $20,000 per kid per year. I honestly can't believe that I can give my kids such a rich and rewarding education at home for such an affordable price.
Thanks for taking the journey with me through the fears I had in transitioning from public school to home school. If you missed any in this series, make sure and click below to read more.