I am a certified teacher. I have a Masters degree in elementary education. In the last 14 years, I’ve worked in classrooms at every grade level from kindergarten to 8th grade. I'm a good teacher, and I love working with children.
But despite my qualifications as a teacher, I have no intention of ever homeschooling my children.
Homeschooling is a growing trend in military families as more and more spouses make the decision to educate their children at home. It offers our military brats some stability as it eliminates the stress of changing schools with each PCS. It provides an alternative to parents who are concerned about those underachieving public schools and the less than stellar DoD schools. And it allows some flexibility so on-the-go military families don’t have to work around school calendars.
I get it. I understand the advantages of homeschooling for military families. But it wouldn’t work for me or my family.
I was a stay-at-home mom for six years. I cherish the time that I spent with my children in the beginning stages of their lives, and I’m proud that I provided their earliest education that laid the foundation for their success in a formal educational setting. But now that they’re both school-aged, I cherish the time we spend apart. They’re growing into their own individuality, they’re learning how to function in society, they’re coming home and giving me extra hugs because of that time spent apart. I love my children with every fiber of my being, but I don’t want to spend every waking moment with them. Quite frankly, they don’t want to spend every waking moment with me either.
I think my role as a mother would change if I added the role as homeschool teacher. I know very well how low my tank of patience dropped after a day of teaching other people’s children and how difficult it was to use my drive home from work to fill that tank back up before putting on my mommy hat, especially during those single parenting phases when my husband was gone. How would I refill that tank if I didn’t even have a drive home in between hat changes? Is it possible to smoothly transition from teacher to mom without either role being diminished? And would my kids be able to differentiate between those roles and respect them both accordingly?
Call me selfish, but I also don’t want to quit my job. I like having a fulfilling career. I like having an identity outside of being someone’s mother or someone’s wife. I like that I’m not spread so thin that I have nothing left for myself. And I truly believe that having a mom who has found a happy life balance can do nothing but positively benefit the children.
But enough about how homeschooling would affect me. How would it affect my children? My kids are the most social kids on the planet. Despite the availability of homeschooling online communities, resources, and local co-ops, I would worry about a lack of social interaction with same-aged peers in an academic setting. I could organize all the educational field trips in the world with other homeschooling families and sign up for every extracurricular available, but the social development that results from classroom activities like participating in group projects, playing kickball in P.E., and sharing the fun of holiday parties would still be missing.
I won’t go so far as to say I would never homeschool my children. That’s obviously impossible to say given that the fact that we are a military family, and I have no idea what the school districts will be like at our next duty station. Thus far, we’ve been fortunate to live in an area with great schools, so I’ve never been forced to decide between a bad school and homeschooling. However, even if we find ourselves facing one of those underachieving schools, I'd like to think I could supplement their school education at home, rather than pulling them out altogether to homeschool full time.
I’m also not saying I’m against homeschooling in general. If you’re willing to make that commitment and you believe it’s what best for you and your children, then I say good for you. Go for it.
It’s just not for me.
Do you homeschool (or intend to homeschool) your military brats? If so, what led to that decision? If not, what are your reasons?