Public or Private?
Homeschooling or not?
Military families are constantly faced with the difficult choices surrounding education options all the time. The primary concern for most families is providing a quality, consistent education for their military children.
Homeschooling in the military community has rapidly increased – and not just because of COVID-19. But now, a year after the pandemic started, families are struggling to maintain their education plans.
Financial hardships are first and foremost to blame. Rising curriculum costs, job cuts, and unexpected costs associated with military moves are preventing families from serving their children’s needs.
Because of a complete lack of resources, families are forced to return children to a public schooling environment or enter into financial strains to continue their predetermined education choices.
Here’s what is going on.
Military families have multiple reasons for wanting to homeschool, but are lacking the major support they need to do so.
Why do many military families choose to homeschool?
Flexibility and control.
One of biggest reasons military families pursue the path of homeschooling is for the simple fact that they can control the experience. So much of our lives as active-duty families are completely out of our control.
We cannot determine where we live, when we move, or how long we will be asked to stand in the gap during lengthy deployments, TDYs, or short tours.
By customizing our children’s education plans and timelines, we hold the proverbial keys in determining holiday breaks, work weeks, etc.
Many families are finding that homeschooling is the premier way toward building their preferred worldview into their children’s lives.
For us, as a Christian family, we find great value in discipling our children through education. We teach biblical principles, critical thinking, and apologetics. They are learning how to interpret Scripture, serve their community, and to work within the local church.
Special education needs.
In addition to constructing a particular worldview, many families have children with special education needs. As any family who has attempted to acquire an IEP or 504 could tell you, the process can be grueling and unpleasant.
Essentially, even if a special education plan was granted, moving frequently presents a unique challenge. Will these plans transfer or will the new school cooperate with an existing IEP/504?
Homeschooling offers consistency and predictability, along with providing scalable curriculum. Educating at home is inherently accommodating to these issues.
There are several cases and scenarios where homeschooling offers military families much-needed respite because their child has a chronic illness. Multitudes of regular medical appointments, or immense scheduling conflicts, can create strain during school hours.
Likewise, completing assignments in the midst of continual treatment can be complicated. Public and private schools are not always equipped to address the many needs of chronically ill children. Whereas schooling at home offers the opportunity to work at a sustainable pace with compassionate care.
Lack of better options.
Depending on the location of the military installation, military families may find themselves in a place that offers less than desirable options for education. Due to the fact that some military installations have been built around underfunded schools, a safe and quality education has not always been accessible. Families often feel forced into choosing a home-based education based on the lack of other acceptable choices.
What can families do in response to these very specific needs? While the benefits of homeschooling are clear, the way forward is not always so. Purchasing curriculum, especially for multiple children, can be an exorbitant amount of money. Additionally, recurring costs- like laptops or chrome books, also can be preventative. Financial hardship most often is what excludes military families from serving their children’s educational needs.
While many of our unique needs as active-duty families have been addressed by non-profits, government initiatives, or even the private sector, the need for resources in the home-schooling space are severely lacking.
What we really need are non-profit organizations dedicated to providing subsidies, or assistance, to military families pursuing alternative education paths.