Remember when your role in back-to-school shopping meant begging your mom to let you have a sweet new Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper and Five Star Notebooks? Such decadence.
As summer comes to a close and a new school year approaches, we parental figures can no longer ignore our slightly more blasé roles in back to school prep. You know what I’m talkin’ about. School lists with crayons and folders, gym shorts and new outfits, Excedrin Migraine … OK maybe that last one isn’t really on there, but it should be.
School supply shopping can be overwhelming and exhausting as you navigate the aisles of Target, latte in hand, staring down the other momma with the last box of colored pencils. Because let’s face it: Whether your kids go to public school, private school, or school at home like our family does, back-to-school can be stressful.
So take a short break from your Amazon school shopping list, reheat that coffee, and join me for a different type of school list.
My Top 5 Favorite Things about Home-schooling in the Military.
It’s no secret that military families move around. A lot. During the average 6-9 moves a military child will likely make during his or her school years, a certain amount of difficulty in finding a new niche is expected. The home-school community is generally pretty great about rallying around one another to provide support. It’s not abnormal to see home-school kids at ease with one another through a mutual and unspoken sameness in much the same way that military kids often do. When you combine the closeness of the military community with the fellowship of home-schooling, you add one more layer of reinforcement for your family. I’ve yet to live at a base that didn’t have an active home-school crowd, and a quick Facebook search will likely turn up several options including both military and local groups. For someone who could be a poster child for introversion, any extra social reinforcement is welcome.
Summary: The home-schooling community provides a great social/interpersonal support group, perfect for families who make frequent military moves.
Freedom to Pursue Individual Interests
Because of the lower student to teacher ratio in home-schooling, it generally takes less time to cover each subject, leaving more time for kids to pursue extracurricular activities offered in the area. Different parts of the country (or the world for that matter) tend to specialize in certain types of music, dance, sports, or other forms of expression and activity, and I love being able to take advantage of each location’s offerings. Kiddos who learn to cook the perfect schnitzel in Germany? Yes, please!
Summary: Home-schooling can allow for extra time to become involved in each locale’s unique activities.
Location, Location, Location
When I was in school, my personal enthusiasm for history hovered somewhere between that of Eeyore and Daria. It seemed like nothing but dead stories about dead people.
The adult and teacher in me cringes as I type that.
I have grown to love history, and it’s among my favorite subjects to teach. My change of heart is due in large part to my personal experiences with the historical places in each of the locations where we have lived. Walking on the same ground as the Civil War soldiers in the Petersburg National Battlefield outside of Ft. Lee, Virginia. Seeing the cannons and taking in the simultaneously ingenious and solemnly destructive nature of the crater – these things brought to life the history of the war for me in a way no book could.
Hiking among the intoxicating pine trees in Rocky Mountain National Park, a short two and a half hour drive from Ft. Carson, Colorado, and imagining what it must have been like to be one of the first homesteaders to make her way West, made me appreciate the homesteaders’ tenacity and grit more than all the rounds of Oregon Trail I played in 5th grade, combined. There’s just something about being there that connects you to the past, and I hope to foster a love of history in my kids long before they reach their thirties.
Summary: Home-schooling has allowed my family extra time to delve into each post’s regional history and experience it in a meaningful way.
Moving frequently means changing schools frequently. Military kids are especially resilient, and in my experience, most adjust very well to their new settings, including their new schools. There is something to be said, though, for the consistency in curriculum, pace, style, and approach to learning that home-schooling can provide. After all, the same teacher means the same expectations, which is something my kids either love or hate, depending on the day. Maybe don’t ask them if they like consistency after “life skills,” aka, laundry day …
Summary: Home-schooling provides consistency in what can sometimes be an inconsistent lifestyle.
OK, so I know I just listed consistency and flexibility back-to-back among my favorite things about homeschooling in the military, but before you congratulate yourself on being right about those crazy home-schoolers, hear me out. I love the consistency we’ve implemented, but I also love the flexibility of our schedule. Dad has a four-day weekend? So do the kids! Change of Command ceremony? Field trip! There are, of course, more impactful ways we’ve used our flexible schedule to our advantage, too, such as before and after deployments or longer Temporary Duty assignments. Flexible schedules can also allow for things like visiting or hosting friends and family at any time that’s convenient for you, rather than only in the summer months. It also can be fun taking advantage of local vacation destinations in their off seasons (must remind self to conjure up ways that Disney can be considered a field trip …).
Summary: Flexible schedules can mean extra time with visiting family, special time for reunification, and fun field-trips. Just be conscious of balancing your flexibility and consistency – that’s life though, eh?
One of the most wonderful things I’ve learned on our family’s home-schooling journey is that what works for some won’t work for all, and that the different ways we learn are part of what makes us uniquely us.
My favorite things about the impending school year are likely different than yours, and if so, I’d love to hear them! Do your kids attend school on base, or off? Are you a home-school mama, like me, or are you rockin’ the carpool to school? Hit me with your favorite things about the new school year in the comments!