Finance Lessons for Home Schoolers

A custom-tailored classroom has a lot of pluses, but you'll pay a price.

Once considered a fringe group, parents who home-school their children aren't such rarities anymore. Families looking for an alternative to schools with too few challenges or too many distractions, or for a way to tailor the curriculum to a child's needs, have swelled the ranks of home-schooled kids. In 2003 more than a million children were being taught at home, a 30% jump from 1999. Estimates now put the number closer to two million.

Whatever the advantages of home-schooling, saving money isn't necessarily one of them. Add up what you spend on books, curricula, tutors, field trips -- not to mention the loss of a second income if one parent becomes the full-time teacher -- and the cost of home-schooling can easily rival paying private-school tuition.

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Reporter, Kiplinger's Personal Finance