Welcome old friends and newcomers!  This week I am going to be sharing my experience, my semi-expertise, and my thoughts on homeschooling in the military.

As I shared yesterday, I have been a military wife for 12 years, and have been homeschooling our children going on 7 years now.

In those 7 years of homeschooling, we have been stationed at 3 different posts, experienced 2 deployments, and are currently separated from my husband as he serves a tour in Korea.

To some people, that might sound like a very good reason to put your kids IN school, not keep them at home!

So what benefits does homeschooling bring to military life?  What struggles does it present?

This is what I want to share with you before I get into the how-to posts.

I read an article recently that said that as many as 10% of families in the military homeschool.  That is a significantly higher percentage than in the civilian population!

Benefits

Something about homeschooling is resonating with families serving in the Armed Forces.  I can think of two obvious reasons-

1. Stability in an otherwise chaotic life

If there was just one reason I could give as to why so many military families choose to educate at home, this would be it.

Homeschooling ensures that your children will have stability in their:

  • Curriculum
  • Teacher
  • Standards
  • Learning environment (for the most part)
  • Emotional and moral support

Not all military families move often- but a lot do.  Going from school to school, and only having each teacher for one year, can be confusing and frustrating.  There is no guarantee that each school will provide for your child’s needs.

But homeschooling happens in your home, no matter where that is.  It happens with your family.  It happens the same no matter where you go or what is going on with the active duty spouse.

2. Flexibility

For many families, this often occurs as a perk to homeschooling rather than a benefit from the start.  Most families start homeschooling with a very traditional view of education and school.  As time continues, they begin to realize that they no longer have to abide by the school methods or schedule.

The girls were some of the only older children at the re-deployment ceremony.

Homeschooling provides the gifts of time and opportunity to military families.

  • You can work during moves, transitions, and year-round.
  • When your spouse has time off, you can take time off!
  • Your kids can experience every deployment goodbye and redeployment ceremony.
  • You can travel whenever you want!  And you can do school while traveling!
  • You are free from hours of homework, Parent/Teacher meetings, class programs, etc.

Just think about that last one.  Usually homeschooling takes about 3 hours of your day.  You can even space that out if you work year-round.  The rest of that time can be spent building relationships with your kids, pursuing hobbies, blogging (ahem), or anything you want to do as a family!

The greatest example from our life is when Jay has a random weekday off.  We usually go shopping, sightseeing, or work on projects around the house as a family.

We purposely plan leave during times of the year when school is in session so we have less traffic to deal with- and usually hotel and other rates are lower during those off-peak times.

Drawbacks

Lest you criticize me for not pointing out any of the drawbacks of homeschooling in the military, I present the following:

1. Receiving Special Services

Sadly, in some states and areas being a homeschooling family means it will be harder to receive special benefits such as speech therapy, learning disorder diagnosis, etc.

Here in Kansas I know several families that have struggled with the school district and military services to receive the help their children needed.  This is not always the case.  Other states and districts have their own policies.

Some families are able to get around this through alternative forms of therapy, natural treatment, and paying out-of-pocket.  Disabilities and other forms of physical problems can be properly addressed through Tricare and referrals.

2. Legal Issues

Just like you have to abide by the traffic laws wherever you go, you have to follow the homeschool law of each state you are stationed.

Despite what some misinformed people say, when you move to a new duty station, you must follow the laws for homeschooling in that state.  There are no exemptions for military people.

Usually, this is not a problem.  There are only a handful of states where the laws are cumbersome.

I will go over some of the legal mumbo-jumbo later this week, but just know that you CAN homeschool legally at every duty station {including overseas}.

3. Finding Time Alone During Separations

This is a tough one, a deal-breaker if you ask me.  Because your kids are home with you all the time, deployments and other separations can get stressful.

In some ways, homeschooling during a deployment can be easy.  You don’t have to get up early every morning and get the kids to school by yourself.

But for many moms, especially extroverted ones I think, it can become very isolated.  You can start to feel as if you don’t have any personal time or space.

Many families have found creative ways to combat this.  They hire “mommy helpers”- which are older teens or single women that can come play with the kids and do a few lessons with them while you take a break, catch up on your sleep, or clean up the house.

They trade babysitting and other services.

Sometimes they organize play groups, coop classes, and other activities to keep the kids busy while the moms chit-chat.

I think many of the struggles of going through a separation are common for both homeschooling and traditional school families.

What benefits or drawbacks have you experienced?

Have you experienced any of the ups or downs that I mentioned here?  Do you have one to add?

Tell your story and with your permission, I will share it here or on my Facebook page!

Have you read any of the other 5 Days series?  Go check them out!  The entire list is over at iHomeschool Network.

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3 Responses to The Benefits {And Struggles} Of Homeschooling In The Military

  1. Jenny says:

    This was a great read! I am a military wife who homeschools our 2 older children. I have run into many of your drawbacks that you mention but I love the freedom that comes with homeschool. We are currently stationed in Germany and one of the perks is being able to take advantage of space A travel during off peak season!!

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