As of this year, our four children have all graduated from homeschooling high school.
I've written about homeschooling and military family life several times, including a piece last year for Good Housekeeping, because I've found this education option to be such a natural fit for military life.
No matter where we live, I always find homeschoolers coming out of the woodwork! When we began homeschooling our oldest waaay back in 1995, I didn’t have a vision of continuing for years and years. Yet here we are. I blinked and it was over!
When our oldest son reached kindergarten age, we began our homeschooling journey because we weren’t happy with the public schools in our area and we couldn’t afford private school options. We desired our faith to be an integral part of our children’s education. While the reasons we began—faith-based reasons—are still a big part of why we continue homeschooling, other reasons have evolved that are unique to the military life.
Why the Homeschooling Lifestyle Has Worked for Our Military Family
Our family has been through over a dozen different military assignments, along with several extended deployments. As my husband’s career progressed, so did the moves.
Our oldest relocated three times during his high school years, and our youngest has moved so often that living in the same place for two years’ running seems like a “long time” to her! Homeschooling has helped us have the flexibility to PCS at any time of year, to any location, without disrupting our children’s education.
We’ve also not had to be concerned about school districts and, when moving overseas and living out of suitcases, we were able to carry on with online school or the few books we’d stuffed into backpacks! Which leads into my next point…
Education Is Constant
When speaking with other friends who have moved as much (or more!) as we have, one concern that always pops up is differing standards from school district to school district or kids repeating a subject like geography when they covered it the year before.
While this wasn’t a reason we began homeschooling, it’s certainly become a reason we stuck with it. Our curriculum and learning methods stayed constant. And it's been a blessing to tailor curriculum to each child’s best learning style.
Looking back over the past years and my husband’s work and deployment schedule, I’m convinced that our children wouldn’t have the relationship they enjoy with him if we hadn’t homeschooled.
I treasure memories of the times he was able to come home for lunch and they'd drop everything for a quick chess or bocce ball game with him, jumping on the trampoline, or just eating and talking.
During his mid-deployment R&Rs, we were able to take off school completely to devote ourselves to family time. Not to mention vacations in the off-season (when everyone else is back in school!) and days off when it suited us and his work schedule.
Getting Through the Hard Times
Of course, everything is not always rainbows and sunshine. But as Christians, we believe that all circumstances we face pass through God’s hand first. Most military spouses are familiar with the challenges that go along with deployments.
We’ve also had years filled with major illness and surgery, children struggling with a recent move, or the everyday problems of normal life. Being together 24/7 through homeschooling does bring closeness, but it also brings out issues that must be worked through! That day in/day out part of homeschooling has been one of the biggest motivations for my walk with the Lord and, I believe, a huge part of the refining process in my own life. As much as I appreciate fellow Christians and my husband, I have learned that I must turn to the Lord to meet my needs.
As a military wife and homeschooling mother, I can clearly see God’s hand through the past years and the lessons he has taught us. Many of the reasons we began homeschooling have evolved into reasons we couldn’t have imagined all those years ago.
With two married children launched into careers and families of their own, our new grandbaby, and two young adult children successfully working and attending college, I can look back over our years as a military homeschooling family and truly say that I have no regrets.