With military families changing duty stations an average of six to nine times over the course of a 20-year career, ensuring that your children get a complete, high-quality education is especially challenging. It’s no secret that there can be (and frequently are) discrepancies in educational requirements between states. This can lead to gaps or repetition in a child’s education. While there are programs in place to help children keep consistency in their academic journey, there are no guarantees.
As a result, many military families end up thinking about whether part-time or full-time homeschooling might provide a workable solution.
Want to know more? Here are a few things to consider before jumping on the homeschool bandwagon.
- Individual Learning Plans. The Center for Public Education recently released a study that found that the smaller the class size, the higher the student achievement rates. In this case, you’ll only be working with your child (and any siblings). Whether you decide to use a correspondence program or do your own home teaching, you can work at a pace that fits your child’s unique learning style. Do your children have different approaches and strengths in school? You can use different curriculum providers for different members of the family.
- Flexibility. Facing a military move in the middle of the school year? No problem! You decide when “summer” vacation occurs. You can give your child three one-month breaks throughout the year, a standard three-month summer, or whatever works for your family. To keep the kids on track, give them a booklist to read on your travels, and let them do a presentation on their favorite.
- Portability. The curriculum progresses consistently, at your child’s unique learning rate, no matter where you are. From Germany to Lewis-McCord, you’re covered on every base! This is a huge benefit for military families. Many home teaching and correspondence programs now have online options that allow you to connect to top-tier teaching facilities with nothing more than a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection.
The Not-So Good
- Social Activities. One of the great things about a public or private school education is the social interaction with peers. Let’s face it, kids will eventually need other friends besides their parents. Fortunately, many posts have activities and camps for kids to connect with one another. You can connect to a local church or community recreation facility for opportunities to get out of the house and meet new friends. You may also be able to get together with other homeschooling families, which will give the kids an opportunity to socialize or work on team projects.
- Qualifications. As parents, we want what’s best for our children. All of us had at least one subject in school that we struggled with, and certainly aren’t ready to teach. Some states agree, and have implemented homeschool parent qualification requirements. You’ll want to check to make sure you meet these requirements before you start down the homeschool path. If you feel like you struggle in a certain area, a correspondence- or distance learning program might be a better fit for that particular subject. Or, homeschool may not be a good fit for you at all. It’s all about knowing your own limits and doing what’s best for your children. That said, if there are other homeschooling families nearby, you may be able to rely on other parents’ strengths in areas where you’re a little weaker, and vice versa.
- Extracurriculars and Scholarship Opportunities. With the rising cost of college education, scholarships from high school extracurricular programs can be a vital part of your family plan. Switching to a homeschool program can make it challenging to find suitable programs to open the same doors for your students. However, changing duty stations in the middle of high school might have the same effect. Alternatively, you may want to consider enrolling your high school children into community college courses and programs. This will demonstrate initiative and academic ability on college applications.
Bottom line, homeschooling isn’t for everyone. However, if your family is struggling to maintain a quality education for your children, it can be a viable option. Research the opportunities to supplement this academic approach, and you may find the outcome to be a better alternative for your family as a whole!