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.
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:
Military Homeschoolers (Worldwide)
Military Homeschoolers Overseas
OCONUS Homeschool Support Groups:
There are lots of groups for each installation. Ask or do an online search to find one near you!
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 (Germany)
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!
- The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer
- Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
- Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn
- The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl
- Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
- How Children Learn by John Holt
- Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray
- Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children by Angela J. Hanscom
- Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne
- Free-Range Kids: How Parents and Teachers Can Let Go and Let Grow by Lenore Skenazy
- Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD
- Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté
- The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture by Gabor Maté
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Stopping by from Tuesday Talk. XOXO This is such an informative post about homeschooling. Thank you so much for sharing. I don’t homeschool currently, but I’m not the least bit against it. It’s obvious that homeschooling now is nothing like how it used to be!
Michele Morin says
I think that of all people, military families are so smart to homeschool! We have lived in the same house for 23 years, so moving has not been an issue for us, but you’re providing such a place of stability for your kids by schooling them yourself. Blessings to you!
Meghan E. Weyerbacher says
If we were still in we’d probably continue to homeschool. We’ve had our ups and downs these past four years but a lot of the downs seem to be from that of single-ish parenting (dad away a lot) and me not knowing how best to handle kid conflict. It is a journey! I am glad you are helping others who need to have this knowledge. I wish I had more resources when I first started!
Charlie | MississippiMom says
Great list of suggestions and resources! I’ve never thought of homeschooling from the perspective of a military family before, but this post is great for anyone who might be interested in homeschooling. I’ll be pinning it to my “Homeschool Helps” board. Thanks for sharing it with us at Encouraging Word Wednesday this week!
Wow, wonderful article full of resources, Jennifer. We homeschooled our boys for 13 years. Graduated two of them, and our last one is a freshman at a private high-school. (His first year of school outside the home.) I’m so thankful for our homeschooling days and treasure those memories. I’m sure it is easier in a lot of ways for military families. We moved around a lot when my kids were younger, and got used to having to consider the homeschool laws from state to state. Loved HSLDA. — Nice to meet you, Jennifer. Welcome to the #ChasingCommunity linkup. So glad to have you join us today. ((sweet blessings))
What a great resource! I can tell you take your children’s education very seriously and I’m so glad your hubby is able to contribute! Blessings!
Shirley Wood says
We homeschooled our youngest daughter through middle school then put her in a private Christian school for high school. She wanted the companionship of friends, many are now lifelong friends of hers. She just turned 30. Where does time go? Thanks for sharing with us at Merry Monday.
Mary Hill says
These are great, in-depth tips for those considering homeschooling. Thanks for sharing on the #LMMLinkup this week.
Sandy Sandmeyer says
Jennifer, I love this post and am so thankful for your family’s service to our country. For this reason, I’ve chosen you to be my Featured Blogger on this week’s Over the Moon Link Party. Come back from Sunday evening through Thursday evening and grab your Featured Blogger badge and share you latest posts.
Thank you so much!
Lots of great information here. Homeschooling as a military family obviously has its own set of challenges. Thanks for telling us about it at Creatively Crafty #ccbg :)
tattoo fonts says
Lots of great information here. Homeschooling as a military family obviously has its own set of challenges. Thanks for telling us about it at Creatively Crafty #ccbg :).
Gretchen Fleming says
Well done and so concise! Thank you for your family’s service and thanks for sharing your valuable hindsight!
Amber Harrop says
Great information for homeschooling Jennifer
Enjoyed reading your informative post. My sons are grown and gone, but I am aware that many parents are now choosing to homeschool there children. Your points on alternative ways to socialize your children are very valid.
Home schooling is obviously a very good choice for parents willing to home school. Thank you for the education. I mean that sincerely, Leanna.
Thanks so much!
Tina at Mommynificent says
This is so helpful! Thanks for linking up at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!
Debbie Kitterman says
Jennifer – – I am so sorry, it has taken me almost a whole week to stop by and comment from #TuneInThursday linkup last week. I was away at a Conference since last week and the wifi was practically non-existent.
I can totally see why homeschooling would be very much preferred for families in the military, it creates a sense of normalcy and routine… plus, I have heard many a nightmare-ish story from friends and people in passing who had to move ever 3-4 years and attempt to make new friends in new schools mid-year. yikes, I can’t even begin to imagine.
Again thank you for linking up last week, and I hope to see you tomorrow at #TuneInThursday
Thanks so much and I hope you had a nice time at your conference!