“So, how much does it cost to start homeschooling?” my friend asks as we’re catching up and gabbing about kids.
“ummm….” I wasn’t sure what to say. “I guess it depends on the philosophy you take on and how you plan to do it.”
You see, it seems to me like everyone’s experience with homeschooling is different. So then I thought, I wonder how much I’ve spent on homeschooling already–and we haven’t even started yet.
My goal is to share everything I can about what I learn as I start to homeschool my 9-year-old with a Montessori slant. But do I really want to get this raw?
Yep, I do. And I’ll tell you why.
For one, anyone considering a homeschooling philosophy should have a clear picture of what kind of investment it takes. I’ve seen some families take on unschooling only to find out that it’s not quite free–there are many investments you’re making along the way, even though you’re not purchasing a curriculum. And then I’ve seen other families invest in a curriculum and that’s all they need. One-and-done. It’s different for everyone.
Second, when you choose to go Montessori, it’s really easy to fall into a trap that convinces you that you need all-the-things that a Montessori classroom might have. When you homeschool, that’s just not possible. So knowing how to identify the materials that will be most beneficial to YOUR child is what’s important here.
Plus, Montessori materials are freakin’ expensive–there’s no way these things should be priced this high. Some families choose to DIY a bunch of it. I am not one of those families. I ain’t got the time nor inclination to do such. But I’ve already found some interesting alternatives that will have to do in place of true Montessori materials. And, for other things, investing in the actual material is right for us.
This Expense Report experiment will be here to show you what that looks like. If you’re planning to homeschool with a Montessori slant too, I don’t want you to fall into the trap of thinking you need everything we do. This is meant to be an experiment to show what homeschooling looks like for my family, not what it should look like for yours.
Please take this as inspiration, not as an instruction manual.
A little explanation…
I made the decision to homeschool Ronnie in December, knowing that we would start in June. So I gave myself a full six months to prepare–and I really needed that much time. Even though I was already rather familiar with Montessori ideas, I had a lot of reading to do on theory and what Montessori means at the Upper Elementary level. Blogs about how to use Montessori with your 3-year-old weren’t going to help me with my 9-year-old. Instead, I needed theory books and albums, which you’ll see reflected in the list below. These are crucial to understanding how to even do what we’re attempting to do (keep in mind that I am not Montessori-trained!).
Also, we are a minimalist family so everything I have purchased was done so very intentionally to limit the amount of stuff.
Rather than break things down by month, I’ve chosen to break it down by vendor. Keeps things easy. I hope to do monthly expense reports going forward.
A quick note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. All of the products linked are things that I would recommend and have purchased myself. If you have any questions about any of our expenses, you can leave a comment and I’ll do my best to reply.
Keys of the Universe
One of the first things I purchased was a packaged curriculum–because I thought this would be the best first step. For many homeschooling families, it is. But, for whatever reason, it wasn’t right for me. I found this particular site hard to navigate–although, that could be because I purchased the monthly option to “check it out” rather than the full shebang and so I wasn’t able to access much of the material for the three months I purchased. And it could be because I’m drawn more to the AMS style, while these albums are more AMI. After my three-month look at this curriculum, I decided to seek out other options.
Keys of the Universe Monthly (3 months) – $120.00
Montessori Research and Development
These ended up being my favorite albums that are available to purchase. The albums themselves do not include a lot of theory so that reading I was talking about earlier is really crucial to understanding how to use them. These were quite an investment, but they will provide us with most of the work we’ll do over the next three years.
Mathematics Volume 3 – $53.00
Chemistry Manual – $37.00
Fraction Manual Volume 2 – $19.00
Geography Vol. 2 – $49.00
Biology Manual – $82.00
Language Arts Volume 4 – $34.00
Language Arts Volume 5 – $37.00
Shipping – $45.85 (these are heavy books!)
Probably the most intimidating subject–Math. I wanted some backup here, so we’re diving into Shiller Math. I think I can easily pair up the scripted lessons with more traditional Montessori materials. Bonus, a teacher at our Montessori school gifted me some manipulatives, so I only needed to purchase the virtual kit.
Planning Work in the Montessori Elementary Classroom – $7.50
Physics of the Earth – $65.00
Asia Biome Mat – $65.00
North America Biome Mat – $65.00
Tree to be planted (!) – Free
Shipping – $35.00
Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook – Free
To Educate the Human Potential – $7.99
The Deep Well of Time – $24.95
Children of the Universe – $24.95
Grammar Symbol Stencils – $7.99 (Ronnie prefers the mini size, but I’ve seen other kids his age use this size.)
The What on Earth? Wallbook Timeline of Big History – $12.42
Story of Life: Evolution – $11.63
Life Story – $6.84
New American Cursive II – $28.95
Watercolor Pencils – $17.99
Story of the World (Vol 1) – $12.20 (This is not Montessori, but we will use it to supplement our history)
Story of the World Test & Answer Key (Vol 1) – $8.80
Daily Language Review: Grade 4 – $16.27 (also not Montessori, but Ronnie likes this workbook at school, so we’re continuing with it)
Solar System Marble Set – $13.24 (we have a fun handwork project planned for this!)
Word Roots Beginning – $15.99 (This will be the only ‘spelling’ work we do–and I chose it for the Latin)
The History of Counting – $13.41
Gear Clocks – $13.59
Acrylic Easels – $13.97
Wire Display Easels – $6.99
A Wrinkle In Time – $5.91
Multiplication and Division Boards – $34.99
Don’t Forget to Write for the Elementary Grades – $15.72
Montessori Reading Analysis 2nd Set – $33.99
Montessori Wooden Peg Board with Pegs – $51.99
Fossil Collection – $26.95
From Childhood to Adolescence – $30.55
The Montessori Elementary Material – $19.57
Ikea Letter Tray – $36.48
At-A-Glance Wall Calendar – $4.00 (Since I bought this mid-year, it was discounted)
Psychogeometry – $43.97
The Universe Verse – $22.73
The Way of Mindful Education – $20.71
Shiller Math Fraction Chips – $19.95
USA Control Map (Unlabeled) – $2.38
USA Puzzle – $28.99
Yellow Triangles for Area – $18.95
Algebraic Binomial Cube – $22.99
Decimal Fraction Board – $9.95
Shipping Fee – $21.42
Montessori for Everyone
Reading Analysis Set 2 – $4.99 (I bought this under some strange delusion that I could DIY the work material, but ended up buying the wooden version anyway)
Fundamental Needs of People Nomenclature Cards – $5.99
Fundamental Needs of People Charts – $5.99
Ancient Civilizations – Mesopotamia – $7.99 (I bought this before I realized that we probably won’t get to Mesopotamia until the end of this year.)
Advanced Living & Non-Living Set – $5.99
Six Kingdom Chart & Masters – $5.99
Animal Kingdom Chart & Masters – $5.99
Word Study – Upper Elementary – $82.00
Grammar Curriculum Level 9-12 – $90.00
A little note about these materials: Knowing that our Montessori school uses materials from this company and that they have a good reputation among the few bloggers I’ve been following, I had high hopes for this stuff. I was really excited to get it, even though the price was way out of my range. When I received the package, though, I was sorely disappointed. The design of the materials was so off that I actually contacted the company about collaborating on a more professional design. That ruffled a few feathers… I’ve tried to return these items but was denied, so I’m still trying to figure out if and how I will end up using these.
Plastic Grammar Template – $6.50 (still too big!)
Shipping – $10.00
Sockerbit Boxes – $15.92
KNALLBÅGE Organizer – $5.99
Sockerbit Boxes with Lids – $20.93
Delivery – $28.79
Decanomial Layout Printable – $6.99
Phases of the Moon Cards – $5.00
Vintage Constellation Cards – $12.00
School table and bench – $179.97
Life of Fred books (used) – $57.00
SRA Cards (used) – $1.00