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Shari Popejoy




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May 24, 2016
 

Homeschooling and Military Life: a Perfect Fit

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Written by: Jen McDonald
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Homeschooling and military life seem to be a natural fit. No matter where we’ve lived, we 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, with three children graduated and our last one graduating this spring.

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.

Flexibility

Our family has been through twelve different military assignments, along with several extended deployments and many separations from my husband for various TDYs (Temporary Duty) and schools. And 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 given us the flexibility to move 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’re able to carry on with online school or the few books we’ve 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’ve stuck with it. Our curriculum and learning methods have stayed constant. And it’s been a blessing to tailor curriculum to each child’s best learning style.

Time Together

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. When he’s able to come home for lunch, they’ve dropped 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 suits 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 struggles that many families face such as 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. Our oldest child is now married and in the military himself, and our middle two are in college. With children in their twenties and the youngest soon launching into adulthood, I can look back over our years as a military homeschooling family and truly say that I have no regrets.



About the Author

Jen McDonald
Jen McDonald is the author of You Are Not Alone: Encouragement for the Heart of a Military Spouse, a book of 30 daily readings designed to encourage, strengthen, and uplift military spouses in the unique challenges they face. She has been "married to the military" for over 25 years, and is the mother of four, including one son in the military. She and her Air Force husband have been stationed all around the world from Europe to the Pacific. She writes regularly for military spouse publications, has been published in numerous books and national publications, and featured in major Christian online sites. An experienced editor, she currently serves as the Content Editor for MilitaryByOwner Advertising, a company that serves military families.



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