School Season For Us

In our area, school does not start until the day after Labor Day, but in our family school started yesterday.

Like a large and growing portion of military families, we homeschool.  In fact, military families homeschool at a much higher rate than the general public does.

It definitely has its good and bad points.

Good Point 1:  We plan our school year around life's upheavals. 

When Air Force Guy came home from deployment, we took a three week break from school.  We had started school early, so it didn't throw us off track at all.  And when my mother-in-law lost her mind and we had to fly cross country to deal with it, we took school with us.

Also, our school days tend to only be about three or four hours long as far as "book time" goes.  My kids don't get burned out as quickly at home as the older one did in the classroom. 

Bad Point 1:  I don't get any "no kids" time while the rug rats are at school.

I have compensated for this a bit, I have two hours a day of gym time where someone else babysits and I work out.  But I can't run to the store by myself or pick up the house without the mess that gets down right behind me.  When you are the only parent because of deployment or TDY, this can be a serious problem.  We all need to find a way to keep our sanity, and sometimes sending the kids to school can be that life-line. 

Good Point 2:  My kids are all one grade ahead of their age level, and start taking Advanced Placement Exams at 13 years old (AP exams are the ones you can take in high school for college credit).

Yay!  I can kick them out when they hit 17, a whole year earlier than average!  I really need those bedrooms for... stuff.  I have plans for those rooms. 

Bad Point 2:  There is a tremendous amount of time involved. 

Not only do I have to teach the subjects to my children (I use a ready made curriculum, which saves quite a bit of time for me), I have to keep stellar records.  The record keeping is second nature to me - I was a classroom teacher prior to deciding to homeschool, but it does take a lot of time.  I don't think anyone likes grading papers.

On the other hand, due to the habits and vagaries of Air Force Family normally, I spent nearly as much time in teacher conferences and the school office my eldest went to "regular" school.

Good Point 3:  Our kids' education has continuity. 

When we move, they do not switch subjects.  They do not switch grading methods and patterns, and they do not have to go through a time consuming credit matching process.

Both the military and the vast majority of colleges now give equal credit to a homeschooling education with proper transcripts and the regular classroom, thanks to several homeschooling organizations working hard on our behalf. 

Bad Point 3:  I spend a LOT of time searching out extra curricular activities for my kids to do outside the home. 

We spend the morning "doing school", but our afternoons and evenings are booked up with Brownie/Girls Scouts, CCD, martial arts classes, Girls on the Run, and year round swim team.  We have to seek out  ways for our kids to get used to taking orders and dealing with adults other than their parents.

The list of pros and cons, of course, goes on and on.  And I'd be happy to discuss homeschooling with anyone who has questions!  But it is certainly not a one-size-fits-all way to go.  Homeschooling works beautifully for some families, and others benefit far more from a traditional school environment. 

One thing I always appreciated about living on a military base was that there seemed to be a good working relationship between the two; many military families who have dealt with the upheaval moving causes for schooling understood our decision completely, even if it wasn't the decision they came to themselves.

Besides, can you imagine just how much trouble the antics of Air Force Family members would get us in at "regular" school?  I'd probably have to rent office space to deal with the teacher and principal meetings alone! 

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