Spring 2019 / by Charles Terry
Some of you may not be aware, North Carolina public schools currently have $10,042 of funding allotted per student. That means that my four children, had they attended public-school, would have had $40,168 allocated toward their education this year. Think about that for a second. While public schools do need money for books, supplies, and salaries, there has not been any proof that spending more money guarantees a better result. However, what could you do in your homeschool if you had that much money at your disposal?
Our budget for our children’s expenses is paltry in comparison. While we may not always stick to the budget, we’re not even in the same stratosphere as the public-school system. The blessing of home education is that we can do so much with so much less! There are some very minor differences, of course. Our school doubles as a home; our bus has only four wheels, and our primary teacher has graciously agreed to volunteer all her time. Not only that, but she gives additional time to scouring the Internet to find deals on used books; she organizes all our field trips and extracurricular activities, is the bus driver, and works in the cafeteria.
As a financial advisor, I often counsel my clients to have a long-term mindset. Goals like a comfortable retirement take decades to plan for and require saving diligently over a long period of time. While financial goals like retirement are important, I would argue that we, as homeschool parents, should have an eye towards things of greater value—namely, working towards having children who love God and are prepared for adulthood. If these things result from our efforts, we will have far more satisfaction than having a comfortable retirement. Investing in our children can produce a legacy that will last beyond our own lives. It’s the ultimate investment.
If this investment is so valuable, we should devote a substantial amount of resources to it. We will need to invest time and money into our homeschools intentionally. If I’m honest, I must admit that our school can sometimes get the leftovers of our budget. Instead of letting this happen, let’s try to proactively put more resources into the biggest commitment of our lives. Here are a few ideas on how you can invest more into your own homeschool:
Equipment. Homeschooling is hard enough with a fully stocked classroom, but it’s nearly impossible when our teachers don’t have the books and equipment needed to disciple and educate our students. Dads, start by asking your wife questions like “What do you need to make your job easier?” or “Are there any resources you are lacking for our school?” Then when she answers, work with her to find a way to fund some or all her suggestions. Prioritize together; we can’t always do everything, but we can focus on finding a way to afford those things that will have the biggest impact.
Encouragement. Remember, our teachers are working for free and have no time off. While a 50% raise may not be appreciated, an occasional bonus might. A $100 gift card to buy clothes, books, or whatever would encourage your teacher, can go a long way on a hard day. Adding some teacher benefits like paid days off (half or full-day with dad), a wellness program (massage), or catered lunches (like sending them to Chick-fil-A) could also make major strides to encourage your loved ones.
Experiences. I’m a firm believer in utilizing the freedom we have as homeschool families to experience God’s creation and create as many hands-on learning opportunities as possible. The years we have will go faster than we want, and the last thing any of us wants is to end up with a bunch of I wish I hads. Traveling Homeschoolers (www.travelinghomeschoolers.com), one of many similar sites, offers some great opportunities for pre-planned trips. This site could also spur some great ideas for trips you want to plan. However, not all awesome experiences need to cost a lot of money. Camping has been an amazing way for our family to get outside, create great conversations around the campfire, and have lots of messy memories we will share for a lifetime. Whatever activities you choose, just be intentional. Use your dollars and time wisely. Invest in building character and creating memories—things that will last beyond the homeschool years.
While not many of us have an extra $40,168 to invest in our homeschool, maybe we can set aside an extra couple of thousand dollars a year. Doing this may mean that some of our other goals will need to be delayed or sacrificed. That’s where value systems and trade-offs come into play. Would I be willing to work an extra year or two if that translated into being able to invest those dollars into my children’s education and training? Am I willing to spend $5,000 less on a car every time I replace one to spend an extra $1,000 a year on homeschooling? What else could be done to create additional resources for our homeschool? Be intentional and get creative.
You are a steward of the time and money God has entrusted to your care. Use these in a way to please your Heavenly Father and bless your family!