Why Homeschooling Can Be a Good Fit for Military Families

Wed, Sep 09, 2015 @ 08:09 AM Jen McDonald Military Life

homeschooling_and_military_families.jpgWhile the school year may be in full swing, many military kids won’t be attending the neighborhood school or waiting in line for the school bus.

Instead, they’ll be counted among the ranks of thousands of homeschooling families. And, regardless of where you ultimately decide to send your kids to school, it’s impossible to deny the growing trend of homeschoolers in the military.

Military families often mention:

  • flexibility
  • continuity
  • dissatisfaction with local schools

as some of their primary reasons for homeschooling. Let’s take a closer look at these reasons, as well as some resources available for military families who opt to homeschool.

The Homeschooling Boom

Experts estimate there are 2 million homeschoolers nationwide, with their numbers growing as much as 12% annually in recent years. And data indicates that military families are homeschooling at perhaps twice the national average.

While I never set out to be a homeschooling parent, over two decades ago we found ourselves with a fluently reading pre-K son. We weren’t excited about the school in our neighborhood for various reasons, and as a young military family we simply couldn’t afford the steep private school tuitions in the area. So, we decided to “give this homeschooling thing a try” for a year.

What a surprise to find myself 20 years later still a homeschooling parent, with our youngest of four entering her senior year of high school!

A typical day for us in recent years might have looked like this: one child practicing her musical instrument with the dog curled up on her lap, another engrossed in his latest library book, the youngest using math manipulatives to solve a division problem, while the oldest readied his baseball gear for practice. Homeschooling for us has not been "school at home" so much as it's become our lifestyle over the years.

And we’ve run the gamut of educational choices as homeschoolers, too, depending on our location and each child’s needs: charter schools, partial enrollment in DoDEA schools, dual enrollment in public school/homeschool, along with involvement in privately led educational co-ops, enrichment classes, and field trip groups. And for over a decade, I’ve juggled homeschooling with working as a writer and editor.

Why would we go to all this trouble to find a good educational fit for each child? The main reason, simply put--with over a dozen military relocations over the past 20 years along with my husband's multiple TDYs and deployments, education has been one of the few constants in our children’s lives. Other military families echo this sentiment, along with other reasons:

Flexibility

A PCS to a remote area or during the off-season won’t cause a panic. School is portable! And taking time off when it’s best for the active duty member and family is a huge perk.

Continuity

Especially in the high school years, issues with transferring or receiving proper credits for courses can become an issue, not to mention grade-school aged kids who must redo classes like state history for the new location each time they move.

Homeschooling gives you the freedom to determine curriculum and not repeat classes your child has already completed, as well as help alleviate some of the disruptions that kids face during PCS or deployment.

Local Schools Not a Good Fit?

Perhaps the schools in your area aren’t stellar and the private schools are beyond your budget. Some families wish to incorporate faith-based materials that simply wouldn’t be an option otherwise.

While homeschooling won’t be the right fit for every family, and parents should walk into the decision with their eyes wide open regarding legalities and responsibilities, much evidence exists proving the efficacy of home education. And for military homeschooling families, there’s lots of support available! Below are a few sites to get you started.

Military OneSource 

Time 4 Learning’s Military Homeschool Network 

Military Spouse Homeschooling section

Regardless of where your kids are educated, here's to a great school year! children moving