When military mom Bobbie Kennedy saw her daughter reading before her fourth birthday, Bobbie knew Olivia needed the type of self-paced learning program that only homeschooling could provide. Bobbie also didn’t relish the idea of taking her children in and out of schools every time the family received a military order to move. So, 13 years ago, when the Kennedys were stationed in Alaska, Bobbie began homeschooling.
A growing number of military families have discovered that the benefits of homeschooling outweigh the complications of trying to adjust to new schools and teachers every three years (the average frequency with which a military family relocates). According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, five to 10 percent of military kids study at home.
Homeschooling allows for consistent curriculum, but it also allows military families to school while moving and accompanying the military member on a temporary assignment.
“Homeschooling allows for flexibility in a lifestyle that requires it,” said Bobbie, who now homeschools the Kennedys’ sixth-grader, Jack, in their ninth home in 18 years. “Homeschooling is mobile in a life that thrives on mobility. Addresses change frequently, but our homeschool does not.”
A military mom in Las Vegas, Jennifer Brow is also accustomed to a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Before each move, she researches homeschooling laws and tries to find other homeschool families in her communities, though she has noticed the growing number of military families choosing to homeschool.
According to the HSLDA’s Mike Donnelly, the growth of military homeschooling can be traced back to a 2002 military-wide memo stating that homeschooling can be a “legitimate alternative form of education” for military member’s children.
Like Bobbie, Jennifer appreciates how she and her girls can take vacations around Dad’s schedule and pack up and move with him without having to wait for a school year to end. When her husband is deployed, however, she has sole responsibility of their five-year-old and eight-year-old girls.
“I have to be a single parent and a teacher while he is away, and that can be tough,” Jennifer admitted. “Life always throws you curve balls while your spouse is gone. I just try to take it day by day.”
In Okinawa, Japan, Heather Schuhlein is using their surroundings to inform her three children’s studies. While the kids homeschool with Horizons and Switched-On Schoolhouse, they’re also taking in sights they could never experience stateside.
“We spent all of last year learning about WWII and the Battle of the Pacific. No public school can do that for us,” said Heather, whose husband has served 15 years in the Marines. “We move so often and my husband has been on several deployments that homeschooling has been able to provide my children with a very stable home life, regardless of what's happening outside.”
If you're a family in the military, we'd love to hear from you. Use the comment field below to share why you chose to homeschool. Let's see which branch of the military can have the most responses. Above all, thank you for serving our country!