Members of military families deal on a daily basis with problems associated with frequent and rigorous deployments, changing locations based on required training programs and sometimes random leave schedules. Not all military families move around a lot, but many do, which leaves school-age children in the family moving from school-to-school and sometimes changing teachers more than once a year.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense website (https://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/0416_militarychild/ ) “The average child in a military family will move six to nine times during a school career. That’s an average of three times more frequently than nonmilitary families.” This somewhat “nomadic” lifestyle can create a series of difficult transitions for kids as they move through their K-12 school years. The average child in a military family will move six to nine times during a school career.
The majority of military children attend local schools in the area where their parent is deployed. A smaller percentage are educated at Defense Department schools located around the world and even fewer attend private schools or are home schooled. But homeschooling is trending upwards with military families. Some statistics show that 2.7% – 3.0% of all school age military children are homeschooled and the numbers are growing more-or-less commensurate with the national non-military growth percentages. (NOTE: Some military publications cite the number as being upwards of 10%.) The website “DoDLive” estimates that there are currently 1.9 million military children ranging in age from newborn to eighteen years and 1.3 million of this number are school-aged children. (http://www.dodlive.mil/2012/04/05/month-of-the-military-child-saluting-our-military-childre/ ) This means that approximately 35,100 – 39,000 school-aged kids with parents in the military are currently being homeschooled.
Homeschooling offers military families the ability to schedule their children’s school time around the moves and transitions typical of a military life. Because the children of U.S. military and DoD civilian personnel overseas are not subject to U.S. state-by-state mandatory attendance laws and the related DoD Directive (DoD Directive 1342.13) does not require mandatory attendance, the flexibility of a homeschooling experience can be the perfect fit for military school-age children.
Military families stationed in the U.S. are required to follow the homeschooling laws of the state where they are living during their service. Military eligibility requirements state that all students (including homeschoolers) must register in the ASPEN student information system and have a complete registration packet and current immunizations. The Department of Defense website at http://www.dodea.edu/Offices/Regulations/index.cfm provides a copy of the DoDEA Directive-Type Memorandum on home-school students.
For reference purposes, the DoD homeschooling web page at http://www.dodea.edu/parents/homeSchooling.cfm is a great information source for military families wishing to homeschool. For answers to additional questions, the website recommends referring all queries regarding DoDEA’s Home-schooling Directive-Type Memorandum through the educational chain of command, as follows:
- School Administrator,
- District Superintendent,
- Director of Student Excellence, and
- Headquarters Chief of Education Policy and Operations.
Aadel Bussinger, a military mom who homeschools her kids, writes about the benefits and struggles of homeschooling in the military on her blog “These Temporary Tents:”
“Stability in an otherwise chaotic life. If there was just one reason I could give as to why so many military families choose to educate at home, this would be it. Homeschooling ensures that your children will have stability in their:
- Learning Environment (for the most part)
- Emotional and moral support.
Homeschooling happens in your home, no matter where that is. It happens with your family. It happens the same no matter where you go or what is going on with the active duty spouse.”
For more information about available online curriculum and support services for homeschooling, visit: www.globalstudentnetwork.com .