We have homeschooled our four children for several years. *Note I’m using the royal we. I have been responsible for their education for the last three years.*

It has been challenging and daunting. My mom guilt is multiplied because now if my kids cannot spell in addition to being rude, then it’s all my fault.

School day at the beach

That thought can be overwhelming, but I prefer to stick with the thought that this is an opportunity to teach my children things they wouldn’t learn in a traditional school environment. Sometimes our non-traditional environment includes school days at the beach. I’m not going to complain about those days.

So how did we decide to homeschool?

We moved overseas, and my children no longer had the option of going to a small, church-affiliated school. Even with all our moves, we had only enrolled our children in Episcopal schools. We loved the size of the schools, the focus on community and being a good citizen, and how our children’s quirks were treated as gifts instead of forced into a box.

After that was no longer an option, we did enroll our children into the available school, but the fit wasn’t right for us. Our son was in kindergarten at the time, and the year’s goals were the alphabet and sight words; but since he’s the third child, he was already reading and ahead of the other children. We were not even a week into school before he was getting into mischief. We had similar issues with our older children as well, and we decided to take them out and follow a curriculum more closely aligned with what they had at their previous school.

Math game

At some point, we veered off the curriculum track.

I became more confidant in what we were doing, so I started letting them pick sciences and what they would want to learn in the upcoming year. It was freeing and exciting to watch them become active participants in their education.

Rolling dough for empanadas

We do a schoolhouse model where there are some subjects that my kids all learn at the same time and take away what is appropriate for their age. It makes things interesting and mostly fun. One of our best ideas for our curriculum was a global cuisine class. It means that wherever we’re studying in world history, we make food from that place. The kids make the food, and I oversee so things don’t go awry. Those are the kinds of things that they love.

Our toddler adds an element of surprise to every day of homeschooling, too. He has a cart of “work” that he does while his siblings do their own work. He just wants to be like them, so I don’t fight it.

I don’t think I have all the answers for homeschooling, and I know that each family’s school looks different. But these past few years have been amazing. Challenging but amazing.

I have never been home with children prior to this. I’ve always worked full time, plus or minus a nanny. I’ve enjoyed the time with them, and the ensuing pandemic has made my decision seem fortuitous.

Now we’re moving again, and someone was surprised to hear that I’m not going to continue homeschooling. I guess I look like I know what I’m doing? Why am I not homeschooling at our next duty station? It was a season for us, and I want to be my kid’s mom, not their principal and teacher, too.

My oldest is going to go to high school. I want her to have that experience. The idea of sending them back to school is scary, though. I think of how they’ve been able to do school while lounging under the sun in the backyard or how they’ve practiced spelling words while playing soccer and baseball. I don’t even know if the youngest can sit in a classroom in all honesty, but I want to see him try. If things aren’t working, then we have the option to try homeschooling again.

The important thing is now know I can, and our experience was fortuitous. But I want to try something else. Homeschooling does not have to be permanent. It can have a season or a place just like every other aspect of our military life.

So just like our homeschooling foray, we will see how our next schooling adventure goes.