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Practical Homeschooling® :

Making Your Move

By Drue Porter
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #9, 1995.

Drue Porter gives tips for moving.
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Drue Porter

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 planning ahead.

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 studies.

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 shipment.

Legal Necessities

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 move.

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.

Library Leave

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 family.

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 local churches.

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 military.

Home School Legal Defense Association, P. O. Box 159, Paeonian Springs, VA 22129, (703) 338-5600.

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