“Mommy, teach me.” “Mommy, let’s play school.” “Daddy, look what I did today.” Your preschooler loves to learn, and you love watching her learn. You read reports that the public schools aren’t doing a good job, and you wonder, “Could I do better? Can I teach her what she needs to know? Can we get financial help if we home school so I can stay home to teach her?”
The government will not supply you with a paycheck if you decide to home school, even if you are a certified teacher. The government provides public school education for all children, or you can pay for a private school if you opt out of public school. A few states offer tax credits to home school families or for education materials. This isn't a paycheck, but it may reduce your expenses. If you have a special skill or training, you might receive payment from other home school families to teach their children in areas where the family feels deficient, such as music, foreign language skills or structured physical education. Alternatively, you might teach in a home school cooperative where you don’t receive a paycheck, but your child benefits from the knowledge of other teachers.
“What if I can’t afford to stay home?” you ask. The Home School Foundation has limited resources to help families with serious financial needs, such as becoming a single parent when a spouse dies or falling victim to a natural disaster. The fund also helps families on a limited basis if they have a special needs child. You might also check with your local home school support group. Sometimes local organizations supply scholarships for field trips and special events, and they may also help out in extreme circumstances. All of these are short term, so if you need financial assistance on an ongoing basis, you might find options to serve your local home school group in ways that benefit your pocketbook or take a work-from-home job so you can work and school your child.
“Curriculum can be expensive,” you say, and you’re correct – sort of. Many parents don’t need a curriculum for preschool or pre-K. You can access online resources to tell you what skills your child needs to learn or purchase inexpensive preschool workbooks. Home school families often sell, trade or give away curriculum they don’t need any more, so you might be able to swap or sell curriculum you don't need for materials you do need. Used bookstores often carry deeply discounted textbooks and workbooks, and your local school might provide materials on a limited basis. Organizations such as PaperbackSwap.com and homeschoolbuyersco-op.org offer free curriculum if you can’t find it locally.
The real pay as a home school parent comes from watching your child learn and grow. You can move as fast or as slow as she needs, reteach lessons or find different ways to teach a subject. Your child loves to learn now, and feeding her hunger for knowledge and her curiosity makes her a willing participant. You can respond to, “Mommy, what does it mean to…” or “Why do we…” questions when she wants to learn, or you can say, “I don’t know. Let’s learn together.”