Families decide to homeschool their children for so many different reasons: academics, extra-curricular activities, special needs, allergies, religion, and more all bring families to the decision to homeschool.
Homeschooling families are as diverse as our United States military families!
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 2012, there were an estimated 1.8 million homeschooled students in the United States, and those numbers are increasing!
Many families homeschool temporarily for various reasons and some families are in it for the long haul.
Why homeschool in the military?
Many military families find PCS season easier without having to deal with school transfer paperwork. Who wants more paperwork?
Different standards in each state can make it difficult for children transferring between school districts. With homeschooling, fewer credits are missed because it is a more cohesive transition if parents are in control. Many parents also complain of “gaps” in education standards in the states where they’ve lived.
Instead of worrying about school break schedules and half-days, homeschoolers can travel whenever they want or take time off from book work to spend more time with a soon-to-be deployed or returning parent.
Homeschoolers receive a “real world” education, especially in military families, since we often have the opportunity to live in or travel to so many interesting places around the world! We learn to be more culturally aware. We are third culture families! We’re often “road schooling” so we can see the places we’re learning about in our homeschool.
Homeschooling can be done anywhere, anytime.
What you need to know:
Homeschool families in CONUS locations must abide by the state law where you live (not your sponsor’s state of residency) which may include submitting an “intent to homeschool” letter or form, providing standardized test scores, assessments, portfolios, curricula titles, attendance records, and more annually.
You could be penalized for truancy or worse if you don’t comply.
Know the law and your rights.
For OCONUS locations, homeschool families do not have to report or submit anything to anyone, but it is recommended (not required) to mention it to the sponsor’s commander. Realize that homeschooling is often illegal for local citizens in host countries, so it is good to know your rights under the SOFA agreement. And it’s also nice to be respectful of daytime hours when neighbors might question your or your kids.
It is advisable to keep good records of homeschool documents in case of PCS to a state with stricter policy – or the possibility of future enrollment into public, private, or DoD schools. You just never know what the future may hold.
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) can help with any legal issues related to homeschooling worldwide. They have great articles about homeschooling from preschool to high school and lists of state regulations. And they offer military member discounts!
What about socialization?
Homeschoolers are not all stuck in little closets, reading quantum physics, rebuilding computers, composing symphonies, or hacking into secure servers.
Socialization is a concern, especially for many parents beginning homeschooling. We worry about isolation and how our children will be able to interact with others in a healthy way.
School environments cannot recreate natural socialization within controlled age-segregated institutions.
We’ve discovered many unique opportunities to socialize!
Libraries offer all kinds of fun: storytime, crafts, clubs, games, classes, contests. Ask your librarian to plan homeschool events!
Our children have always taken music lessons from amazing teachers in our community.
My kids participate in gymnastics, soccer, track, and baseball. There are many sports opportunities within most communities.
We attend church frequently where our children interact with so many different people of all ages.
Volunteering is a great opportunity for homeschoolers who have a flexible schedule. My teen daughter works at our installation hospital twice a week. She is certified with the Red Cross and loves it!
My teenage daughter is also a member of a local drama troupe where she performs with many amateur thespians of all ages in our community.
We are members of a local homeschooling organization that holds art shows, science and geography fairs, co-op classes led by parents, talent shows, field trips, holiday parties, and special events. We can participate as much or as little as we want.
Many homeschoolers are involved in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts or similar extra-curricular activities.
My eldest daughter has participated in Civil Air Patrol since she was 12 years old.
Even shopping, medical appointments, and dining out is educational. It’s a learning experience to interact with and be courteous to store clerks, cashiers, nurses, wait staff, and other patrons.
We as homeschool parents get to choose our children’s socialization…who they associate with and what they spend their time doing.
Our attitudes and experiences impart knowledge to our kids.
What if you can’t (or don’t want to) teach something?
I am so lucky that I am the English and history expert and my husband is the math and science guy. Together, we can tackle almost anything our kids want to learn, even the tougher high school courses.
But what if you don’t want to teach writing or algebra gives you hives?
Many homeschool classes are offered online! Lots of companies provide classes especially for homeschoolers.
Private tutors are an available resource, both online and locally. Many local and DoD libraries offer free or reduced educational services.
You can check for local co-op classes. If there is nothing available in your area to suit your family’s needs, ask other parents to help you create a course! There are probably other parents in need of your skills who can offer their expertise.
Homeschoolers can enroll part-time in many local or DoD schools for academics, electives, or extra-curricular activities. Just speak to the school office for procedure.
What about high school and beyond?
We are navigating this right now and it’s both scary and exciting!
It’s important to keep good records.
Calculate high school credits and complete a transcript.
Prepare for the ACT or SAT.
Complete paperwork for financial aid, applications, scholarships.
Visit college or job fairs.
Homeschool high school doesn’t have to look like traditional school.
Coach your homeschooled students well for after high school – no matter if that’s work, college, a gap year, or whatever.
Whether it’s for a semester or 12+ years, homeschooling is an educational option many military families all over the world choose for their children.
Homeschooling is the hardest job you will ever love.
The Homeschool Foundation assists military homeschool families who struggle financially to meet their children’s educational needs.
The Homeschool Association for Military Families is a group advocating for military families to be allowed to choose one location (a family home state) and a set of laws to follow throughout a child’s education. I think that’s great!
Get a starter kit from the Home School Association for Military Families.
Remember: You can get military and teacher discounts at many stores! Check with curricula providers, bookstores, services, and stores for military and teacher discounts.
Homeschool Support Groups:
There are lots of groups for each installation. Ask or do an online search to find one near you!
OCONUS Homeschool Support Groups:
United Homeschoolers of Germany (KMC, Germany)
KMC Christian Homeschoolers (KMC, Germany)
KMC Inclusive Homeschool Group (KMC, Germany)
Eifel Homeschool Group (Spangdahlem, Germany)
Grafenwoehr and Vilseck Homeschoolers and Facebook Group
Sigonella Homeschoolers (Italy)
Naples Homeschooling (Italy)
Naples Christian Homeschooling (Italy)
L.I.F.E. Homeschool Group – Lakenheath and Mildenhall (UK)
Okinawa Homeschool Group
Seoul Homeschool Group
Let me know if there’s a group where you live that I don’t have on my list!