If there’s one thing to count on in the military lifestyle, it’s that military transitions never come at opportune times. Summer Permanent Change of Station (PCS) season is only a dream for some families, and sometimes even a summer PCS doesn’t actually mean moving during summer break from school. Deployments aren’t scheduled around holidays, birthdays, final exams, or the big elementary science fair. Even the every day work routine can be changed at any time.
As a military spouse, I can’t do anything to control the timing of deployments, PCS moves, or even job schedule changes. About twelve years ago, I discovered a way to make all those military transitions a bit easier for our family: homeschooling.
Homeschooling through a PCS
We were a little more than halfway through our first year of homeschooling when we received orders to move from Illinois to Virginia. Instead of worrying about how much time my daughter could afford to miss from school, or how she would be able to cope with a new school (especially a school in the midst of annual testing), I just packed up a box of school books to read and work on when we had time. She did a few assignments in the Temporary Lodging Facility (TLF) at our old base, and a few more while waiting for the moving truck to arrive at our new house.
In subsequent moves, we adjusted our homeschool schedule to work around the chaos of unpacking boxes and finding our way around a new location. When we arrived in Arizona, in August a few years ago, we found out students had already been in school for several weeks. We spent a few days house hunting, unpacked a few boxes of school books to use in the TLF, took a few days off to settle into a temporary apartment, and then took a whole week off when we finally moved into a house in October. We didn’t take as long of a fall break as our public school friends, but we managed to finish our required number of school days before the following summer rolled around.
Homeschooling through a Deployment
Just as I have no control over PCS orders, I also have no control over deployment orders. Since we couldn’t pick the day he left, I rearranged our lives to be as forgiving as possible during that stressful time. We spent the first weeks of the deployment reviewing math concepts instead of doing timed math facts drills, reading books together instead of writing research papers, and so on. There weren’t any huge projects to stress over or final exams that counted for 50% of the final grade in a class.
Months later, I rearranged our school schedule to accommodate the R&R trip that didn’t fall during a regular school break time. If the kids had been younger, we might have let them skip school for a week or two; my high school student would have been hopelessly behind in Physics or AP Calculus if she had missed that much class work. With our adjusted homeschool schedule none of the kids fell behind. Who says fall break can’t be in August, anyway?
Our school hours also changed significantly during the deployment. Since there was nobody telling us that school had to start exactly at 8:10 am, we often managed to squeeze in time to Skype with Dad before starting our schoolwork. Time zone changes from the states to the other side of the world often meant that the best times to connect with my husband would’ve been impossible if I had been trying to get three kids to three schools on time every morning.
Even when my husband is home and we’ve unpacked most of the boxes from the last PCS, I still appreciate our homeschool flexibility. Schedule change? Maybe we’ll take that day off, too. Working swing shifts or nights? Maybe school needs to be at the library this week. TDY coming up? Maybe we’ll tag along.
There are so many things I cannot control as a military spouse. Many of those things are easier to handle because I’m not simultaneously trying to force unyielding school commitments into our crazy military life. There are many reasons why I homeschool my children — one of the biggest is that it helps reduce my military-spouse stress level to a manageable level.
Do you military kids who are homeschooled? Do you find it less stressful than regular school? Join us for a Facebook Party!
You’re invited! Join us for another fast-paced evening of conversation and fun. We want to talk to you about your child’s education, and support you in helping make this the BEST SCHOOL YEAR EVER for your military child. Join us, and our panel of experts on October 15th, from 9-10 PM EST on Facebook. We’ll be ready to answer question on everything from supporting your child through transitions, getting your child’s school the funding it deserves, communicating with teachers, and even educating your child at home if you are considering homeschooling. Join us for a fast-paced hour of fun, support, and of course, PRIZES!
Posted by Crisit Schwamb, military spouse and blogger at Through the Calm and Through the Storm, Cristi now shares homeschool product reviews, years-ago stories about their family, allergy-friendly recipes, and other random thoughts