April is Military Child Month, when the Department of Defense celebrates our military children for their resilience and fortitude. Established in 1986 by then Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, the month recognizes the incredible support that military children, from infants to age 18, give to their parents through moves and deployments.
The Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) reports that children in a military family will move six to nine times on average during a school career. That’s three times more frequently than nonmilitary families.
How many children are we celebrating? The latest numbers are 1.2 million active-duty military children and over 700,000 children of parents in the National Guard and Reserve. These numbers don’t include the children of retired military families, such as ours, who relocated six times in support of my husband, who served as an active-duty Navy chaplain. It would have been eight moves if we hadn’t received orders to three assignments all within the Virginia Beach locale.
According to the 2021 Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey, approximately 13% of respondents reported they were homeschooling. We know that homeschooling is not a new educational choice for military families. As we’ve already noted, military families relocate frequently, and homeschooling allows them to maintain a consistent educational journey for their children. If a family is moving on average of 6–9 times in a military child’s life, then imagine how many schools and teachers that child would need to adapt to.
Homeschooling for our family was a blessing which allowed us to educate our children as well as to impart our family’s values on a consistent basis. We have homeschooled four to college and two of those on to graduate school. Our youngest is a 9th-grader.
A few years ago, our oldest called us from college. We were stationed in Naples, Italy at the time, and she and her younger sister had lived with us overseas and then moved back to the States to attend college. She expressed her gratitude for having been homeschooled, saying that it allowed her to become more confident and independent.