Thoughts on Homeschooling on One Income


Learning to apply economic reasoning to the challenge can be quite useful as you adjust your decisions to make homeschooling work at a personal and family level. So the challenge of homeschooling on one income is a about choices, not about having the means.

Poverty can be measured in two ways. Absolute poverty – not having enough to eat, a place to sleep, and clothes to keep warm. Or relative poverty – not having all the things our neighbors have. Wealth is the same way. Alexis de Tocqueville once noted that average people in his day were better off than the kings of the Middle Ages in terms of the comforts of life.

Here are a few key terms:

Scarcity: Economics is about dealing with the problem of scarcity. You can’t have it all. In this case, a scarcity of time (you can’t work and homeschool at the same time), means you have to choose time over money. This is the basic problem of economics.

Comparative Advantage: You choose to homeschool because you are better than others at matching your childrens’ education to the future life you want them to live. Everyone is better off because of your choice. Economics is sometimes called the science of choice.

Opportunity Cost: The cost of homeschooling is not the materials, books, and other curricula you have to buy. The cost is the alternative use of your resources you give up. So the cost of homeschooling may be having a beautiful flower garden, or canning your own vegetables instead of buying them, or the benefits of having an outside job. By choosing to homeschool, you are recognizing the incredible value you attach to providing your children with a better education!

Marginalism: All decisions are made at the margin. If you’ve just finished a 5k race, a banana is really valuable. If you’ve just finished 5 bananas, less so. And the 8th is less valuable than the 6th. And so on. You have decided that earning that extra dollar of a second income is less valuable than the experience of being a part of your children’s education.

You could map Common Sense Economics on your schedule this summer or on your High School teen’s list of courses – it is all about learning and understanding these concepts, and applying them using economic reasoning to real life problems in an entertaining way. We hope you will choose to have your children learn economics in this way or you can learn a little economics yourself! Common Sense Economics is offered as a full semester course, but also as a 12 hour MOOC. The MOOC is an abbreviated version of the full course, is COMPLETELY FREE, and gives you a chance to preview what your children will be doing in the full course. Try it this summer, or next year!


Written by Frederic J Fransen, Founder of

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