If you are a new military homeschooler, you may feel apprehensive about
moving. What if we get orders to one of those “unfriendly” states? How
will we ever make up all the school we’re going to miss during the move?
These are legitimate concerns, but we can face them confidently by
Relocating to another state with different regulations is a little
scary, especially the first time you do it. Each state has a different
set of legal guidelines for homeschooling. Some states require as little
as a letter of intent submitted to the local school superintendent.
Other states require information about curriculum, a plan for the year,
and standardized testing. Still other states mandate that a homeschool
be under an umbrella school.
Get the Facts!
Begin by researching the homeschool regulations for the state to which
you are moving.
If you are a member of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA),
contact them first. Membership in HSLDA is a good investment for
military homeschoolers. They will advise you of the current homeschool
climate in your new state and will be able to counsel you in special
legal situations that may arise in the course of your move.
In addition, HSLDA has a resource available that military homeschoolers
will find beneficial: Home Schooling in the United States: A Legal
Analysis, by Chris Klicka. This book discusses the legal status of
homeschooling in each state and is especially helpful if you have a
choice between assignments in different states. You do not have to join
to purchase this book.
Next, write or call the homeschool organization in your new state and
request an information packet. There is often a nominal charge for these
packets, but they are worth the small investment. The packet will
contain analysis and clarification of the state homeschool law, and will
explain reporting and testing requirements. Sample letters of intent and
other paperwork are usually included. Also request the name and phone
number of the local support group leader. If you are moving to a large
base, inquire if there is a military homeschoolers’ support group.
If your assignment is overseas, there may not be much in the way of
support. Try leaving a post in the Military Homeschoolers’ folder in the
PHS sections of America Online and Compuserve. You might meet other
homeschoolers who are currently at your new duty station or who have
been previously assigned there. Online resources are an excellent way to
glean information and make contacts at your new base.
Flex Your Schedule
You may feel anxious about the amount of school you are going to miss
during your transfer and transition. It takes about a month to complete
an average move from start to finish. One of the advantages of
homeschooling is the ability to be flexible with your school schedule.
Planning your school year with your husband’s projected rotation date in
min, allows you to schedule around the move. You might begin school a
month early or continue an extra month into the summer. You might also
consider schooling year-round. Our family has found this option to be
the most advantageous.
And remember, even though you are not doing book work during the move,
your children are still learning. The trip itself will be educational.
Tie Up Loose Ends
Once the exact date of your transfer is known, begin working to bring
all subjects to a logical stopping point before you break for the move.
Finish units, chapters, or concepts. Tying up these loose ends will make
restarting school easier and will preserve the continuity of your
Also, if you or your children are due for doctor or dental visits,
schedule these appointments before you move. This will eliminate many
school interruptions during the first months at your new base.
Move It, Don’t Lose It!
As you organize your household goods for packing day, think about what
materials are absolutely necessary for doing school: textbooks,
notebooks, pencils, paper . . . Gather these materials before the
packers come, pack them up in a box (hopefully one small box will do it)
and put this box with your suitcases and other items you plan to take in
your car. Do not ship your core homeschool material if you can possibly
avoid it. You never know when you are going to be bumped on the housing
list and end up waiting in temporary quarters while your school books
are stuck in storage. Also, trying to recover all your school materials
from various boxes when you are unpacking is a waste of time. A lost
book can be frustrating when you are trying to get school back on track.
Our last move was a door-to-door move. The distance we moved was less
than 100 miles. The movers were literally unloading the truck twelve
hours after they had finished loading it. Since it was such a short and
easy move, I decided to ship all my books. I organized them, set them
apart, and gave instructions for school items to all be packed together
and labeled a certain way. Even after taking these precautions, I spent
days looking for my daughter’s math book which had been packed with
books from another room.
If you are moving overseas, carrying school books with you may be
impossible, but try to get essential school materials into your early
Other items to have on hand as you travel are the phone number of HSLDA
and copies of any paperwork submitted in the previous state, plus the
information pack and phone numbers for the new state.
Follow any established guidelines for notifying the state that you are
leaving. If there are no formal guidelines and you have filed a letter
of intent or other paperwork in that state, prepare a letter to your
district superintendent or the person you report to advising him of your
Washington State required only a letter of intent and yearly testing to
homeschool. It never occurred to us to notify the state when were
leaving. However, when we did not file a letter of intent the following
year and our children were not registered in public school, we received
a truancy notice and the threat of a fine.
Report for Duty!
Once you reach your new duty station, the temptation will be to take off
another three or four weeks to finish unpacking and to get the house
organized. Resist. The sooner you can get started on school, the better.
Return to your studies when your home is in reasonable order. A couple
hours of math and language each morning, if that’s all you can handle,
will help reestablish the routine and bring peace and order to your home
and family. If your children have been off schedule for several weeks,
they will appreciate the return to a routine and so will you.
A trip to the local library should also be high on your list of
priorities. A fresh supply of reading material after a couple of weeks
of “those same old books” can be a lift for everyone.
The library may also be a resource for linking up with other
homeschoolers. Some libraries have printed information about local
homeschool groups and activities and are happy to help you and your
Join the Group
Give the local support group leader a call soon after you arrive. Find
out when and where the next meeting is. Plugging into the local support
group will put you in contact with other homeschooling families. This is
a good place to make new friends, find out what extracurricular
activities are available for your children, and even to find out about
If you are moving to a state which requires a great deal of paperwork or
accountability, the local support group will be a valuable asset. There
is safety in numbers. And it is wise to fill out paperwork the “right”
way so you will not draw unnecessary negative attention.
After a few transfers, moving your school will seem as natural as moving
your home. Being informed and planning ahead will allow you to
anticipate obstacles and enjoy the advantages of homeschooling in the
WHERE TO FIND IT
Home School Legal Defense Association, P. O. Box 159,
Paeonian Springs, VA 22129, (703) 338-5600.