Finding Freedom as a Military Homeschool Family

Homeschooling as a military family carries its own unique set of challenges and benefits. While you can easily find answers to questions like “is it legal to homeschool as a military family,” it’s not so easy to find someone who has walked in your shoes and can share what it looks like to homeschool in their everyday life as a military family.

And that is why I am so thankful that Lydia Rosado has agreed to share her perspective as the homeschool mom of an Air Force family with us today!

If you are a military family considering homeschooling, I hope Lydia’s post brings encouragement and clarity. And for those of us with family members or friends who are serving in the military while homeschooling, I hope it can help us understand them a little bit better.

Be sure to leave your questions and comments for Lydia in the comment section below!

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Finding Freedom as a Military Homeschool Family

by Lydia Rosado

In my son’s 13 years, he’s moved 7 times. My 6 year old has moved 4 times. Moving is a normal part of our life as a military family. It can be a fun life of adventure, but it can also present unique challenges. 

Like most homeschooling families I agree that one of the greatest blessings is the freedom it affords. But freedom brings a renewed meaning as an Air Force family that homeschools

It’s not just about freedom to choose our curriculum or how we schedule our days. Freedom in homeschooling gives us time to focus on emotional intelligence as we say goodbye to one place and hello to someplace new. Homeschooling gives us freedom to adventure and explore wherever we land. 

But maybe the greatest freedom homeschooling affords a military family is freedom to do what works for us in each season; it’s the one constant in our ever changing lives

what does a homeschooling military family look like military homeschool

Homeschooling as a Military Family: Prioritizing Relationships Cultivates Resilience

The year we began homeschooling we also moved across the country. My son finished up 2nd grade at his public school and we started our next adventure. 

To him this move felt like his world was ripped right out from under him, but I didn’t recognize it and I jumped into homeschooling academics. I hadn’t yet learned that homeschooling included prioritizing our relationship and building emotional intelligence

what does a homeschooling military family look like military homeschool

I’m embarrassed to admit I thought he’d just get over it because kids are resilient. As I quickly learned, resilience needs to be nurtured over time. I had tossed that word “resilience” around flippantly and sometimes even bestowed it on my children like a badge of honor when it came to their ability to adapt to their ever changing world. 

But this time, my son was hurting. He wasn’t getting over it. And he resisted every bit of homeschooling because of it. 

It took me a bit but I realized that resilience isn’t a given, it needs to be cultivated through open discussions and plenty of patience and love

what does a homeschooling military family look like military homeschool

Once I realized this, not only did we begin to talk openly about the losses he felt and the anxiety of everything new, but I also began to study him, and really listen to him. I asked questions about what he was curious about and how I could help. 

This dialogue helped me transition from a school-at-home format (which wasn’t helping matters) to a more freeing interest-led homeschool. Little did I realize this newfound freedom would become a source of comfort for all of us.

Homeschooling as a Military Family: the Art of Flexibility

As a military family, we are forced to practice the art of flexibility. This does not come naturally to me, I am a creature of habit and routine. But our stability is actually the constant change and adjustments we’re required to make. 

Being a military mom means toggling between having my husband on hand and independently managing everything on my own.  A move to a new assignment often results in longer work hours, work weekends, pop-up trips or even a deployment.

what does a homeschooling military family look like military homeschool

Those times are exhausting, but homeschooling has allowed both my kids and myself to become more flexible. 

I love a good routine, but during those hard, lonely seasons, it’s ok to lay aside plans (if I had any) and binge-watch Horrible Histories.

It’s still Language Arts if I quietly plop on the floor in utter exhaustion and let someone else read a Shakespeare story via audiobook while I relax by watercoloring scenes from the play. Quietly painting on the floor encouraged my children to slow down and join me until we all were listening intently and drawing.

Documentaries (especially animal documentaries) not only count as learning as we snuggle together on the couch, but they also provide me with a much needed opportunity for a catnap. 

what does a homeschooling military family look like military homeschool

Lego building, imaginary play, and games have been a life raft during an extra-exhausting week. The freedom to be flexible and change our homeschool rhythms has been a comfort in those hard seasons. And through that flexibility, we’ve also discovered what works best in our homeschool. 

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Homeschooling as a Military Family: Enjoying Rabbit Trails and Adventures

Our homeschool is based on good books, creative projects, and plenty of space to follow rabbit trails. I brainstorm ideas with no timeline rather than fill in detailed daily plans. 

The unpredictable nature of our lifestyle means it is easier to “wing it” and play things by ear. We build our unit studies daily as we go, adding in hands-on projects, activities, art and anything else we fancy. We are a creative bunch unafraid to be messy, and simple projects are quickly overcomplicated. 

what does a homeschooling military family look like military homeschool

Our family unit studies allow for flexibility for individual passions and projects and they have become the backbone of our homeschool. They also play into our love for traveling, which is quite literally built into our lifestyle.

Through many moves we’ve enjoyed experiences I never thought I’d have, let alone share with my children, and we have the Air Force and homeschooling to thank for that! The excitement for new adventures offsets the challenges that come with moving

We love to create a bucket list of sights to see and places to explore. It builds enthusiasm for our new “home” location and we get to intentionally incorporate those things into our studies to make them more meaningful. 

what does a homeschooling military family look like military homeschool

Learning through adventuring has been one of the greatest benefits of being a military homeschooling family. Because we know we have limited time in each place, we don’t put it off, we just do it. 

During the year we lived in Virginia, we prioritized learning about the Founding Fathers and the Civil War in order to understand our visits to presidents’ homes and battlefields better. 

We read Island of the Blue Dolphins when we lived in Southern California and went on beach trips to hunt for creatures in tide pools and watch sea lions lounge. 

We’ve learned about rocks and habitats before venturing off to National Parks

Not to mention, the road trips for cross-country moves have allowed us to admire saguaro cacti in the desert, drive through tunnels built into rock formations, pass through golden plains of the midwest, enjoy the green hills and valleys of the east coast, and even marvel at the tunnels and bridges in crossing harbors. 

Learning to adventure well and broadly is a gift of being a military homeschool family. We get to not only visit different sites and museums, but we also get to experience the many regions of our country for a time.

what does a homeschooling military family look like military homeschool

Finding Freedom as a Military Homeschool Family: Choosing Your Perspective

When people find out that we’re in the Air Force, I hear comments like, “it must be so hard having to move so often” and “I could never do that.” 

Well, yes, it is hard. But if you had asked me when I was younger if I thought I could do this military homeschooling gig I’d have said, “I could never do that,” too. 

But here’s the thing: freedom also means choosing your perspective

My children might not get the choice where or when they move, but they *get* to build resilience early in life as I come alongside to nurture it. 

what it looks like to be a military homeschool family

We *get* to learn flexibility because we are constantly adjusting to unpredictable changes.  

Our family *gets* to travel coast to coast, up and down, back and forth and base our learning on wherever our adventure takes us.

While there may be many things we aren’t free to choose, we are free to decide what our mindset and perspective will be and whether or not we can grow and be content wherever the Lord places us. 

I’ve learned a lot about the word freedom through homeschooling as a military family. It goes beyond academics to the whole person: taking time to cultivate emotional intelligence, working on our ability to be flexible and adapt to different seasons of life, embracing our family culture, and adventuring well. 

Homeschool freedom has become a source of comfort, stability, and consistency in our unpredictably changing world.

Lydia is a homeschool mom of three boys, one girl, and two rescue dogs and a partial nomad thanks to her husband and his career in the Air Force. She is an expert mover who has driven across the country too many times in the last 18 years. When not moving, she and her family enjoy exploring wherever God has placed them but are also homebodies who love to hang out reading books, creating messy projects, and watching movies. You can follow her on Instagram at @happilyevercaffeinated.

Military Homeschool Laws at Home and Abroad

Homeschooling is legal in every U.S. state and province. If you are a military family homeschooling stateside, you simply have to follow the laws of the state in which you reside

If you are wanting to homeschool while deployed overseas, military dependents may be subject to the laws of the country where you are living. HSLDA can provide helpful guidance for these and other homeschool legal questions.

You can find the DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) administrative instruction for homeschools here.

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