By Amanda Huffman
When I first became a parent, I expected that when my kids turned five, I would send them to a traditional kindergarten at the public school in our neighborhood.
There are a few things I have noticed in the past few years. And one of the most surprising things to me is how much I enjoy working with my kids to help them learn. But now, our homeschooling stint has come to an end and my kids are back in public school. When the kids started public school last year after two years of homeschooling, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I was ready to pivot if needed and adapt the school option to help fit my kids’ lifestyle. Luckily, the transition to public school went really well for us. Although deciding to stop homeschooling was really hard, my kids will be staying in public school.
If It Isn’t Working Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot
At the end of the 2020 school year, when my oldest was in second grade and my youngest was still in preschool, I knew online learning wouldn’t work for us. My second-grader struggled to attend the online portion of his classes and wanted me to sit with him for each moment, which meant I couldn’t do any work during this time. Maybe we could have found a solution that made online learning work, but instead I decided to try homeschooling for a year and it was a great solution for our family. We were able to find the right balance and had a lot of fun.
The next year we continued to homeschool. My youngest started kindergarten at home while I also worked to teach my third grader. And while it was more challenging, we still had a great year. I also knew I needed help, so I looked at all the options and tried to determine what would be best. This was extra difficult because we were PCSing and so I had to do the research online and felt pressured to make choices before we even knew where we would live. That pressure to decide early led me to choose public school with the knowledge that if it didn’t work I could homeschool for the rest of the year and then come up with a new plan for the following year. Depending on life circumstances and where you live, how you pivot will be unique to you and your family.
A global pandemic doesn’t have to be the thing that makes you take a new look at your family school situation. Life changes and kids don’t always do well in a traditional school or in a home setting. Pay attention to your kids and work to help find the best situation for them. For us, online learning didn’t work and, if not for the pandemic, I don’t know if we would have ever considered homeschooling. But I am glad we homeschooled. It helped me learn about where my kids are and become more involved than I was before.
Military life leads to different life situations(being in a remote location, fewer childcare options, etc.) and what once worked at one location may not work at another. For example, one big challenge we faced in our last move was how expensive it was to live at the new location. This meant I knew I would have less time dedicated to homeschooling and would need to bring in a higher income to help make ends meet.
Homeschool Doesn’t Mean You Do It All
There are many homeschool support groups and also state-funded programs that allow parents who homeschool to have support. When I was considering homeschooling last year, I looked at those resources but after a few conversations with friends, I realized that even with the additional support it wasn’t the right fit for us. If public school isn’t a good fit but homeschooling feels overwhelming, these support options might be a good option for you.
Remember that whatever you do needs to feel right for you and your family. And sometimes you don’t know what challenges you will face until you are in the middle of them. Moving makes schooling challenging, and unfortunately, I have found little support from the teachers I ‘ve met. Often, they do not understand what it is like to move from place to place. Both teachers we had last year had never moved out of their hometown. I wasn’t afraid to be vocal about how hard it was for my kids to transition to a new place. You might need to advocate for your kids to get into a special program or get extra support. The more you can share, the more likely you are to have a successful school year.
Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Service, is the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War Horse, Military.com, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more.