As a military wife, some of the words I have come to dread are “Honey, I’ve got orders.” Orders mean that chaos is imminent. You suddenly notice all of the clutter that has accumulated over the years and you are determined to clear it out before the packing process begins.
Additionally, there are appointments to make, movers to schedule, and the seemingly endless tasks of clearing and out-processing. Don’t forget the research. Where is the new duty station? Is on-post housing nice? Is it big enough? Is there a wait list? Where are the commissary and the exchange?
However, there is one aspect of our life that does not send me into a tailspin when we are trying to move: school. Homeschooling travels with us. I don’t need to know where the school is located or what new classroom will be home for one of my sons. For us, school is already at home, wherever that may be for us. When I hear we are moving, though, there is some homeschooling research that does take place. I need to know the homeschooling laws in the state in which we will be residing. In the past, if the laws were more stringent, I would start applying them prior to moving, just to get a handle on things.
The movers come, pack up all of our household goods, and the journey to our new home begins. Because we are a homeschooling family, school takes to the road with us. It may not be in the form of books or worksheets, but of the adventure we are undertaking as we travel. We learn about each new state we cross into and the way the landscape changes the further on we drive. We learn just how far we can be tested with a vehicle full of kids and pets and toys just as we arrive at a new military installation.
To say setting up our household in a new place is hectic is an understatement. With so much going on, finding our way back to a school schedule can be difficult. Fortunately, over the last few years, we’ve opted for an online curriculum. As soon as the Internet is set up in our new home, school is ready. Being able to continue on with lessons, even if on a lighter schedule than usual, is one way that we all begin finding a new rhythm in our home.
Eventually, the furniture arrives. I start to remember how to get to the store and I have located the nearest clinic. The kids have picked out the best playground and we have met a few neighbors. This new duty station is starting to feel more like home. In our new routine, we can start integrating more into our school day. Maybe I finally add in the art curriculum that looked neat a few weeks ago or find that really neat spelling website that I bookmarked before we left our old house. Now, I feel like we’re finally settling in and finding our new comfortable groove.
Homeschooling as a military family doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. It can be an amazing and rewarding experience for you and your children. By looking into laws and regulations to ensure compliance and finding a curriculum that works for your family, homeschooling can bring your family together in ways that you might not have imagined. My son’s love of building bricks has turned into a passion for all five of us. An extra-curricular activity for my oldest turned into an activity in which the whole family participates.
We also have the ability to check out the surrounding area at each new post. For us, a new history or children’s museum, science center, or zoo is as exciting as finding out the local roller skating rink offers a bi-weekly afternoon homeschool skate. Also, you can often find a military museum at your new installation and learn about the history of the post and of the military. Plus, planes, trucks, and boats appeal to children of all ages. At one point, we lived near Washington D.C. The excitement of taking the kids to see the Declaration of Independence after a history lesson on the topic was one of the most rewarding homeschool experiences we had that year.
On-post homeschool co-ops are becoming more and more popular, as well. Having that resource nearby is a great asset to any homeschool family and particularly new homeschooling families. In the past, there hasn’t been a homeschool co-op available to us on-post. A little research into the surrounding community turned up a great co-op available nearby. Sometimes, all it takes is a little online browsing or asking around to find out about incredible learning opportunities for homeschooling families.
As a military family who has chosen to homeschool our children, we are often faced with many different challenges. Sometimes, we deal with moving or a deployment. Other times, the struggle is finding a curriculum that works for our family or finding homeschool resources nearby. Regardless of the issue, we’ve chosen to be a military family (time and time again) and continue to stay the course as a homeschooling family. It can be difficult but it has definitely been worth it. If you need it, help is available. All you need to do is ask.