My husband has served in the military for almost 17 years now. We’ve lived in some amazing places, have traveled the world together, and plan on continuing on as long as Uncle Sam will have us. It’s been an adventure . . . and every once in a while, it’s felt like a nightmare. Military life isn’t for the faint of heart.
My kids didn’t choose this life for themselves, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say “military kids serve too.” It’s hard to move every 2-3 years, to say goodbye to friends and familiar things, and start over. It’s hard to have to say goodbye to your parent, again and again, and worry about their safety.
It’s just plain hard.
Homeschooling and Military Life
One thing that has made it less hard for our family is homeschooling. Many military families choose to homeschool as a way to balance the needs to of their children with military life.
These are just a few of the many reasons that we homeschool as a military family:
My military kids don’t have to worry about adjusting to a new school after every move.
These kids have moved more times than I care to admit, and if you know anything about military life, you know moves don’t always happen during “summer break.” Our PCS rotation comes up in Nov-Jan every couple years. We don’t need the extra stress of school calendars and requirements on top of all other move-related stress.
When we move, we bring all of our favorite homeschooling curricula with us. We take a break from lessons, but no one falls behind or ends up with a gap in their education. Homeschooling gives us stability and consistency when nothing else is stable or consistent.
Educational standards are what I make of them.
Not every duty station is created equal, and not every school serving military kids has the same high standards. As a homeschooler, I am able to choose curricula that fits my child, rather than fighting to make my child fit in with a new school. I don’t need to worry about gaps in their education, or about falling behind.
As homeschoolers, we work at whatever pace makes sense at the time. Some of my children have been advanced in math or language arts, and others have taken more time to learn to read. I follow their lead, add challenges when needed, explore different teaching styles to fit their learning styles and make sure that the challenge level is appropriate.
We can be gentle with ourselves during deployments and other hard times.
I’ll admit it, homeschooling during deployments can be hard. When the kids are struggling with missing Dad (or when I am having a sad day and can’t seem to convince myself to get up and get to work), I am able to give myself grace.
We have seasons where we do more reading aloud and less book work. We have seasons where we spend more time at parks and museums just because I need to get out of the house and out of my head. Homeschooling allows me to follow the emotional needs of my children and adapt our plan accordingly.
Our time off can be flexible.
With deployments and TDYs and PCSs come LEAVE! Blissful, wonderful leave. It can be challenging to take leave over Christmas, at spring break, or over the summer when everyone else is trying to take leave.
As a homeschooling family, we are able to take breaks whenever we want to, which means if Daddy comes home from a deployment in February, we can take a few weeks off to go on a family vacation. There will be fewer crowds then anyways!
It’s worth the additional challenge
Homeschooling isn’t easy, and it can be hard to make the decision to start homeschooling, but I have never regretted our decision to homeschool as a military family. When nothing else is predictable, I like knowing that something is consistent in our home. I love spending the extra time with my kids and being able to put our family time first.
Heather Aliano is a proud Air Force wife and homeschooling mom of four wonderful and wild children. Follow along with her blog, Only Passionate Curiosity, for homeschooling printables and resources to help you and your kids love homeschooling.
This article is part of the I Homeschool Because . . . series. Click here to read other articles in this series, download the free eBook, You Can Do It, Too: 25 homeschool families share their stories, and enter a giveaway from Kiwi Crate valued at more than $200.