KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
It takes a leap of faith to make the decision to homeschool. Families put a lot of thought behind their children’s education, and the decision to homeschool can be a scary one. One of the major worries of military homeschoolers is finding a community in which they feel they belong each time they move.
Having the right community around you can make all the difference. Here at Keesler Air Force Base, we embody all that it means to be a homeschooling family. When I first became the director of the Keesler Air Force Base Homeschool Group, I would never have imagined it growing into what it is today.
I was nervous that I would not be able to meet the needs of such a large group, but the response has been overwhelming. This group has impacted not only Keesler but surrounding bases as well.
To begin with, we only had approximately 20 children. That number has ballooned to an astounding 52 kids. The more families that join our group, the more I hear the same thing: “I wish every base had this.”
We have had tremendous support from the base, especially from our school liaison officer. They have provided resources to us that have allowed us to continue to grow. If each base was given the type of encouragement that we have received here at Keesler, homeschooling communities would continue to thrive.
Our contacts here at the base go above and beyond to ensure that this group has everything we need to flourish. We are so grateful for their continued support of the program and of homeschoolers in general.
This group has provided amazing opportunities not only to our children but our mothers. It gives homeschooling families a place where they can socialize and learn in a structured environment.
While this group is for the children, the moms have also greatly benefited. The amazing thing about military homeschool groups is that these families are meeting other families that face the same types of challenges they do.
I strongly encourage you to find your community, and, if there is not one where you live, be the one to step out! Reach out to your school liaison officer! They can point you in the right direction.
We meet every Friday morning, and each week we do a lesson that is followed by a craft or activity. We have covered lessons that range from space and animals all the way back to pioneer times!
We have had a field day, career day, and a food drive that the children absolutely loved participating in. The kids were able to put on an amazing Christmas Concert in December for their families!
We have also had several holiday parties, and we have gone on a couple of field trips. This was all within one semester of learning, and we have so much more planned for the following semester!
When polled, the Keesler Air Force Base Homeschool Group parents listed the following as their favorite aspects of the group:
- “This is a fun, safe, and consistent environment for our children to learn and socialize in.”
- “This group does not try to replace our individual curriculum choices. It is enrichment with well thought-out topics and activities for a wide range of ages and abilities.”
- “This is a terrific group meeting the needs of homeschool families in a special and tangible way.”
- “Children are able to work alongside other children of all ages, and moms have the ability to socialize as well.”
If you are on the fence about homeschooling in the military, my advice would be to trust your instincts. Sometimes we must go against what society tells us is the norm in order to create a better environment for our children.
It may seem incredibly difficult to start out with, and it can be overwhelming at first. However, homeschooling can give you flexibility and freedom that you never knew existed.
It gives you back time with your kids, and it gives the kids more opportunities to grow into themselves than is available in many public schools today. Being part of a community such as a homeschool group can help you to navigate the waters of homeschooling.
The thing is, by attending these meetings, the children are learning about so much more than anything I can teach them with a lesson. They are learning respect, sportsmanship, classroom etiquette, hard work, and socialization skills.
I have seen the shyest of kids come out of their shell. I have seen kids gain wonderful sportsmanship skills through weekly games. These kids are resilient and amazing.
We are simply giving them the tools they need to continue growing into who they are meant to be. We are building so much more than a group; we are building a community that can help build up tomorrow’s leaders.