Most Americans simply shake their heads in disbelief when they think about school violence, rampant drug use among teens, and the quickly deteriorating morals of our society. Military parents with school-aged children find themselves in an especially difficult situation. Because of the unique circumstances of military life, many struggle to decide on the best type of schooling for their children. Do they send their children to public schools knowing the potential dangers that await them? Should they pay the hefty price of private school tuition and possibly take out a military loan to make ends meet? An increasing number of military families are turning down these choices and instead, turning to a third option—home schooling.
Nearly 2 million American children are currently being home-schooled. According to Air Force officials, military families may be home schooling at a rate that is double of the national average. This number represents more than just a fad. Military life and home schooling coincide for a number of reasons:
- Families are deployed frequently. They may live in rural locations or overseas where quality education in a public or private institution isn’t available.
- Home schooling offers stability for children. They don’t have to worry about changing schools with every deployment. Their parents are always their teachers and their siblings are always their classmates. Children are still able to make friends through church, home schooling groups, and other social venues.
- Vacation time for military members is sporadic. When they do have time off, they can easily spend time with their home-schooled children.
Before your family jumps into home schooling, you’ll want to make sure it’s the right decision for you. These questions can help:
- Are you prepared for the personal sacrifices involved? Your children will be with you 24/7. Planning lessons and organizing materials takes a considerable amount of time. You will have very limited time to yourself.
- Do you have the financial means to home school? One parent must relinquish his or her income to become the full-time teacher of your children. Your family must make adjustments and be prepared to live on one income.
- Can you make your house a school? Forget about doing laundry or keeping the kitchen clean. Your house will be a school, full of books, art, music, and other lesson materials. You will want to invest in resources to cut down on clutter and allow room for your children’s learning.
- Is your spouse completely on-board with the idea? The last thing you want to do is put strain on your marriage. Before you invest in this type of approach, talk at length with your spouse about the pros and cons.
- Is your child in agreement? Home schooling a reluctant student is a recipe for disaster. Try to involve your children in the decision as much as possible.
After taking the time to think about these questions, your family may decide that home schooling is ultimately the best decision for you. So, where do you go from there? The first and most fundamental step is to set goals in the following four areas. Writing down your goals will set you on a path to rich and well-rounded learning.
- Intellectual learning: This area focuses on the “book smarts” of education. You may want to set goals in specific subjects like Math, English, Science, or any other areas you feel are important.
- Physical learning: Most schools offer PE or recess and your home should be no different. You could engage in physical activity as a family and teach your children how to take care of their bodies (proper exercise, nutrition, hygiene, etc.)
- Social learning: Now you can focus on the “street smarts” of education. This area will help your children learn in real-life situations. Following rules, learning manners, interacting with friends, and working in teams are all examples.
- Spiritual learning: All families have differing views on religion and spirituality, so take time to teach your children exactly what you’d like them to know. You can teach them about specific religious practices and tolerance of others’ beliefs. This is also a great time for children to practice patience, kindness, volunteerism, etc.
Has your family considered homeschooling? What advantages do you see in this type of educational approach?