Homeschoolers value autonomy

In an online discussion Professor Reich said, “But I do claim that homeschoolers who are motivated to shield their children from engagement with competing values or ways of life may be disabled as citizens.4” Fear not, sir. American Life seeps into homeschooling families even if they live on another continent, in a little village where the English speakers are few and far between, and the television spricht nur Deutsch. Trust me. There’s no way to keep it out. Ask the French.

But seriously, Professor Reich feels the State needs to ensure that homeschooling-family life is overseen by . . . by whom? Who are these people who would have ensured that I taught my children a more acceptable autonomy so that they would not be disabled as citizens? The same ones who have given us the Corporate Dining Experience? Government bureaucrats who toe the party line? The Experts who gave us New Math in the late-1960s? Experts who gave the overseas military schools MathLand?5

Who is it among the mass-molded people employed throughout our nation who will give a better example of Autonomy than homeschooling parents who did it Their Way? Who among them can better demonstrate Autonomy?

Dr. Reich worries about children affected by their parents’ opinions but homeschooling families affect only their children. Period. And how many could that be at most? Eight? Nine? And how many are usual? I had three.

Contrast this with entire classrooms affected by individuals. Contrast this with entire schools where conformity runs riot. A recent unsolicited example given to me by a former first-grade teacher is of the current high school ‘uniform’ for girls where a friend of hers teaches: low-riding jeans, thong underpants showing along the hips and a birth-control patch centered between the ‘sides’ of the thong.

Although there are homeschooling support groups that are homogeneous in some beliefs, the application of their philosophy is individual. To my mind homeschooling is the bastion of autonomy. There is no mass-think among homeschoolersbecause we all homeschool differently. So why, to answer another of Professor Reich’s questions, would we not put our children into an Excellent Public School? Because we don’t want the mass-schooling experience. We homeschool because we value autonomy.

The world has changed since the experiences within a family, tribe or clan were the chief influence on a child’s development. Cities arose, industrialization grew, social responsibility for citizens developed, medical and psychological research exploded. There is no easy way to return to the age of family groups whose experience of mass-cultural influence was so rarefied that local styles of speech, dress and thought developed. Of course we would not want to regain the social problems of the past that have since diminished.

  • I do not want to go back to the days of all-but-forced child labor.
  • I do not want to go back to white-only and black-only facilities.
  • I do not want to go back to pink-collar jobs for women.

But I also don’t want the Big Brother bogeyman coming between me and my children. The past wasn’t all good, but it wasn’t all bad either. We need to find the balance between society and individuals and work to maintain the balance. Society won’t do it for us, we must do it for ourselves.
 

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Notes in “Socialization” chapter:

4. NHEN-Legislative email list discussion (joining the list is necessary in order to read the message)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NHEN-LegClearinghouse/message/11111

5. Mathematically Correct Newsline, “Trouble in MathLand” Oct. 30, 1996, 2nd msg. concerns DoD http://www.mathematicallycorrect.com/ml1.htm

 

Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

Worry about homeschooled children not developing into autonomous adults

Each time a criticism of homeschooling is refuted another one crops up.

  • The charge of quality in learning among homeschooled children is contradicted by the number of homeschoolers who are successful college students.
  • The allegation that parents will not be able to find adequate materials was remedied by awareness of educational resources other than those supplied to schools.
  • The rumor that homeschooled children will be socially inept is brushed aside by university educators and employers who value the maturity and level-headedness of young people who were raised and educated at home.

As critics make each objection to homeschooling, the children who were homeschooled prove the opposite.

A recent theoretical criticism of homeschooling is that because of the closeness between homeschooled children and their parents, and because of the lack of ‘diversity’ in their daily lives, homeschooled children will not understand worldviews other than those of their families and will not attain autonomy. This criticism comes from Rob Reich of Stanford University:

“I argue . . . that at a bare minimum one function of any school environment must be to expose children to and engage students with values and beliefs other than those they are likely to encounter within their homes. Because homeschooling is structurally and in practice the least likely to meet this end, I argue that while the state should not ban homeschooling it must nevertheless regulate its practice with vigilance.”

Professor Reich’s paper is titled, “Testing the Boundaries of Parental Authority Over Education: The Case of Homeschooling.”3 I think the assumption is that the publicly schooled adults who now run contemporary society are autonomous people who think and act as individuals. From within a society it may indeed appear that ‘choice’ is exercised but if you leave a society for a significant amount of time and then return, this assumption doesn’t seem as valid as before.

Our family spent 20 of the last 30 years outside the United States and one of the things I’ve noticed since our return to the United States is a general decline in the appearance of autonomy. People today seem to be more conforming and less likely to act independently. Choice in regional food is one example that smacks me in the face every day as little choice in noncorporate food is glaringly obvious unless you frequent very upscale shops (I see this both in prepared/restaurant food and in choices available in the grocery stores).

On the various vacations our family took during our “home leaves” in America I can think of few choices we had while on the road in easily finding food that didn’t involve some corporate chain; a lobster place in Maine is the one exception that comes readily to mind.

In the almost three years since we’ve been back in America we’ve found one little restaurant in a local town that isn’t corporate, one nice Italian place that my father enjoyed 1960s, and a family BBQ place still run by the sister of one of my classmates. I’m sure there are other privately run restaurants but they aren’t in prime locations and it takes local knowledge to ferret them out. Otherwise I see the same places over and over all over the local area and beyond. And, for the most part, they sell the same food. Just how many ways can spinach-artichoke dip be made? This is just one example of the everyday herd-think I see.

When my eldest son was in junior high in a parochial school I occasionally gave him shelled hazelnuts in his lunch. He liked hazelnuts, they were good for him, they were easy to make, they were tidy and didn’t squish all over his lunchbox, the shells were biodegradable, etc. He was teased for bringing ‘health food’ for lunch. Before they were removed from school his younger siblings has much the same experiences in the overseas military school lunch room because they didn’t bring Ding-Dongs, Ho-Hos, chips, and such in their lunches. Autonomy? Developed in schools? That was not my experience of it.

So where is the autonomy that is so desirable? Does a publicly schooled nation really show diversity and a predisposition of the citizens to think and act independently or has American life become an extended set of peerpressure– and- copycat-shopping-experiences?

====================

Notes:

3. Rob Reich, “Testing the Boundaries of Parental Authority over Education: The Case of Homeschooling”, 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, August 30-September 2, 2001, This essay is included in: Political and Moral Education, NOMOS XLIII, Stephen Macedo and Yael Tamir, eds., NewYork: New York University Press, 2002.
http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/cbg/youngfaculty/papers/Homeschooling2002.pdf

 

Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

A safe corner of our minds

In addition to pictorial representations of information, audio information can be transmitted with ease. Blocking unwanted sounds can be difficult as anyone within range of a booming ‘musical car’ can attest. Anticipating when unwanted information will be transmitted is impossible, and we can all potentially receive information we don’t want.

Around 1981 or 1982 a murder was committed in Baltimore and the murderer recorded it with a small recorder in his pocket. A local radio station aired the tape on the ‘top of the hour’ news. I now know what that victim’s last sounds were and the image of how my kitchen looked as I rushed to the radio to turn it off is stamped in my mind. It is not a memory I wanted, it is not information I anticipated.

To add to my objection about the involuntary receipt of information, recent research using MRI technology showed that television violence affects children’s brains in ways other than that of desensitization, the modeling of violent behavior, and the development of belief that the real world is as violent as the world portrayed in movies and television programs. Dr. John Murray of Kansas State University found in MRI scans taken while children watched a variety of video clips, that the part of the brain associated with the long-term storage of traumatic events, an area linked to post-traumatic stress disorder, the premotor cortex, was stimulated.2

Add to this the near impossibility of escaping from saturation exposure to contemporary culture. ‘Future shock’ may be linked to a desire to return to the ‘good old days’ which are remembered as superior to the present even though our parents (or grandparents) say they had to walk five miles to school during blizzards with the journey being uphill both ways. We know that the past is not perfect, and there have been many improvements since the days of uphill blizzardy walks to school, but sometimes nostalgia is a comfortable place to visit.

As children my parents weren’t aware of the ills of greater society. Prejudice, inequity, and violence worse than what is shown on today’s television were realities for many people. But, for the most part, children then were not exposed to the cultural pollution that permeates today’s media.

My son was distressed to hear his three-year old son singing a word he thought the child had heard on the car radio: “funkin.” He was unsure what his son was singing, and thought it was a rendition of a song from the radio. He was certain that when I heard my grandson singing I was going to ‘kill’ someone. The story has a happy ending because my grandson was only singing a nursery song that I, his dear, sweet grandmama, sang to him: “Where is Thumbkin.” My grandson picked up the word he liked best and just sang “Funkin.” Although my son was relieved to find that his son was singing Grandmama’s song and not Puddle of Mudd’s, Barney and Larry the Cucumber are now the entertainment on family outings instead of whatever a radio station decides to play.

People have their entire adult lives to be aware of all the less-than-enlightening aspects of the world. Possessing a small, safe corner in our minds furnished with as much peace, warmth and love as possible is not such a bad thing to want for our children.

====================

Note:

2, John Murray, “Brain Mapping Research”, Kansas State University, December
9, 2003
http://www.ksu.edu/research/articles/archive/murray.html

 

Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

Should children be sheltered?

We are all of different opinions as to   what constitutes over-protection, sheltering or ‘smothering’ instead of mothering. Children and parents even have this difference of opinion.

Mother: “Put on a sweater, it’s cold out.”

Child: “I don’t want to. I’ll sweat.”

At the time of this conversation it was winter.  In Germany.  It was cold out.

The perception of sheltering is dependent of the view of each person. Many parents feel that it is their responsibility to shelter the child from the excesses of the ‘real’ world and filter the cultural pollution. It would be considered neglect to take a child to the beach and allow her to be subjected to the effects of sun and wind without protection, to allow her to explore the waves without cautions or supervision, or to drop her off at a tender age and, if there were less than twenty-five people on the beach, to leave her only under the gaze of the lifeguard. Yet this is a rough model of how children are expected to be educated.

The ‘sun light’ of school may be too bright, the ‘wind’ of school may blow too strongly and the ‘waves’ of school may buffet to the point of fatigue; five days a week of ‘beach.’

But in modern life ‘beach’ is normal and staying home from the ‘beach’ is not. So all the children go to the ‘beach’ and remain there for the required number of hours, day after day, week after week, for over a decade. At the end of their ‘beach’ time they are less themselves and more of the ‘beach.’ The sun, the wind and the waves have worn down the edges of their selves and like beach glass they are tumbled into roughly the same shapes.

The changes in standards make it more difficult to know what is or is not acceptable information for children. Compounding that difficulty is the modern ease of information transmission.

Instant information-transmission is the sun, wind and waves of popular culture, and the ‘information’ can be anything. The ‘information’ is dispensed everywhere and everytime. This is perfectly normal and military people always have some of their ‘edges’ reshaped by whatever culture they find themselves in. Military adults, though, can weigh the appropriateness of the ‘information’ and, after weighing it against their needs, comforts and past experiences, accept or reject it. Children are more vulnerable and malleable with fewer experiences against which to contrast the cultural ‘information.’

Not only is cultural information more easily transmitted than it was in times past but standards quickly change without much reflection about unintended consequences. In the past, more information was passed to children in person-to-person form, more often within their families or near family members who could rule on the appropriateness of the information. Today with ubiquitous audio, video and photographic information transmitted without pause there is no way, short of earplugs and blindfolds, to completely block the reception of unwanted ‘noise.’

When information was transmitted either in person or through print, childhood was more easily protected. An adult reading aloud could refrain from reading words that were deemed unsuitable, and children had to learn to read if they wanted to know those words themselves. After the development of the photographic process and the subsequent improvement of the technology so that the images moved and spoke, Information was added. Anyone who watched the images, or heard the words, received the information.

After the change in how information is transmitted, an ‘in person’ style of information transmission was no longer necessary.  Person A did not need to speak to Child B; Child B did not need to witness an event; or Child B did not need to have attained the age, sophistication, and literacy so he could read about the item in question. Print communication was an effective filter because of the sophistication necessary to understand many words.

With the rise of easily reproduced graphic images, anyone can absorb information, understood or not, about innumerable facets of the world. Via a photograph, anyone with sight can see a representation of zebras, the Horsehead nebula, jellyfish, a cozy hearth, an execution or a sexual act. This information can be anywhere.

Copyright 2006, 2008 Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

Peer socialization

  • Step 1: Get a job as a playground monitor.
  • Step 2: Observe.
  • Step 3: Consider.

Is this how you want your children to be? Do you really want them socialized by their peers? I preferred that my children be socialized by a reasonable person — me. They managed enough childish things on their own.

A friend of mind, a kindergarten teacher of 25 years, told me she could always tell the children who had been raised at home from those who came to her kindergarten class from daycare. It was the herd-behavior in the daycare kids that tipped her off.

Children raised at home look to the parent as the source of daily authority. Children in daycare realize that the adults are transient.

In daycare the adults will either change because the child moves from early-morning care to school and then to after-school care, or the caretaker is transferred to another section (standard policy in some facilities to prevent attachment between children and care-givers). The one constant is the other children who age-gradedly move along with one another. It isn’t Miss Evelyn your kids have to watch out for at school, it’s mean Bubba. And Bubba will be waiting after school as well; there’s no escaping Bubba.

Miss Evelyn won’t tell Mrs. Williams what Bubba did this morning and Mrs. Williams won’t tell Mr. Zachary what Miss Evelyn didn’t tell her. But your child knows, and Bubba knows. So what Bubba says goes and the kids worry about Mrs. Williams later.

 

Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon, former GS-2 (!) playground monitor, Munich Elementary School

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

Integrating on your own terms

With home education, the need to confront that bus-full of strange faces and pick a reasonably friendly one to sit next to, or go through the rituals of acceptance into a new group, are removed. Integration into a new community is easier if you do it on your own terms and at your own speed regardless of the claims by some of the efficacy of being ‘thrown in at the deep end’ and having to sink or swim.

I can still remember the locker room whispers concerning Jill, a new 4th-grade girl, who had a large brown area of skin on her stomach.  It looked like a birthmark, but the ‘cool girls’ said it was “scum.”

What a curious artifact of schooling is the PE shower. What aspect of socialization is served by making groups of strangers shower together? If a family did this would it be considered a ‘red flag’ if the neighbors found out that a family’s bathroom had a ‘gang shower?’ But I digress. The horrors of PE well-covered on television programs, but the knowledge that your discomfort and dread is universal is no consolation at the moment of disrobing.

But how does a home educated child make friends if he or she isn’t in school? One overlooked source of friends in our contemporary, age-graded, everyone-out-the-door, see-you-later life is siblings, the ultimate in home-made amusements.

Through the age-segregation of schooling, and reinforced by the images of contemporary entertainment, brothers and sisters are thought to be either indifferent to one another or to be mutual rivals. In the newspaper I saw an advertisement for cell phones. The graphic was two girls, apparently sisters, impaling each other with what I call the teenage Valley-sneer. The point of the advertisement was a buy-one-phone-get-one-phone-free deal that would remove one more cause of sibling rivalry: sharing a phone. No explanation was necessary because ‘everyone knows’ that brothers and sisters don’t like each other.

Of course events and situations can impose barriers between brothers and sisters and can create competition. Children in a family where each person is ‘cut from the herd’ each day may have to position themselves for things they want or need such as:

  • time with their parents
  • entertainment items
  • a share of the smaller military-family cash-stash nibbled at by frequent PCSEs

In the homeschooling situation, there may be more camaraderie because of mutual-use entertainment items (such as baseball gloves, bats and balls) and the fact that if a sibling isn’t included in the activity, it doesn’t proceed. Newly- PCSed siblings can also recall the recently departed-from-home and share memories. Brothers and sisters can be fellow-adventurers in discovering the new home station:

  • Where is the Exchange?
  • How far to the youth center?
  • What are the hours of operation of the bowling alley or library?

New geographies are more easily explored if you have a trusted comrade-in-newness.  The anticipation of moving is more easily worked through if your buddy has been with you all along.

 

Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

The ‘real’ world

For military children the concern that the children won’t experience the ‘real’ world is immaterial because they live and play with people of varied backgrounds. On an email list my words were once taken even farther out of context than the typings of e-correspondence are usually subject to. I made a comment about an issue that I termed “black and white” and was chastised for couching the discussion in terms of race. I replied that I was only referring to polarized opinions. The misperception was easily cleared up but it got me to thinking. Civilians may look at references to “black and white,” and default to a skin-tone viewpoint, but as a former military Brat, a former WAC and an Army wife, my ‘racial viewpoint’ would be more ‘green and white.’ My polarity is between military and civilians.

Military children are surrounded by people of all colors and often of many nations, whether they’re living abroad or not. The military services are a glorious amalgam of the obvious “black” and “white” and with all shades of beige, tan and brown in between. To add to the experience, these are not people only glimpsed in the community, they are one’s friends and neighbors. Military people live in a thoroughly integrated society whose segregator is rank. It matters not what color your skin is but rather what’s on either your shoulder or your sleeve. Of course race isn’t invisible and many military members bring civilian attitudes with them, but over time those differences matter less and less and we look more at the quality of the person and the trueness of heart.

Apart from the makeup of the forces, military children learn to get along with civilians in many ways. Our children see the host nation’s ‘engineers’ (whether the nation is foreign or is America) who come to fix whatever is wrong with the family’s quarters. Our children order food at restaurants, and converse with clerks in stores at home and while on the road. We learn how to ‘speak’ the local dialect so as to be able to order a Coca Cola: ‘soda’ in the west, ‘pop’ in the Midwest, ‘tonic’ in the northeast, ‘cola’ in Germany and ‘coca’ in Belgium. We learn that in the northwest the attitude is that although you may miss the joy of snow if you don’t live in the mountains, “you don’t have to shovel the rain.” In the southwestern USA, indigenous wildlife might include transparent scorpions in the drains. Bitter cold and blistering heat await us in the middle western states along the Canadian border, while coastal Atlantic temperature inversions can make for nasty summer days. And we find that no matter where we go, we can get a McDonald’s hamburger.

Brats grow up nothing if not flexible.

In addition to learning the various flavors of civilianity in America we also learn how to say ‘pizza’ or ‘hamburger’ with a foreign accent. Mistakes such as ordering a pizza with ‘pepperoni’ in Germany are self-correcting after the first bite of a jalapeño pizza — with the jalapeños hidden under the cheese (to get an American pepperoni pizza in Germany, order a ‘pizza-salami’). English beaches are cold, Hawaiian roaches are big. Alaska has mosquitoes.  Take off your shoes in Japan. Don’t expect toilet paper at French highway rest stops — or even someplace to sit (footprints?! I’m supposed to put my feet on the flipping footprints?!?).

For military homeschoolers the ‘real’ world becomes more ’real’ when we see that a grocery store doesn’t always stock five kinds (or more) of the same item. Toilet paper isn’t always “squeezably soft,” and guzzling your Coca Cola before you eat your meal means that you’ll have to buy another one because there are no free refills.  Overseas, capitalism has a foreign accent.

Military homeschoolers can take advantage of so much more of Real Life than their schooled counterparts. Studying various periods of history can be done on-the-spot in castles, fields of honor, across ancient natural borders, or within five minutes walk from your front door. History becomes real and the contemplation of Hannibal’s journey over the Alps — complete with elephants — is given a reality-shot when you peer over the edge of the road from inside the car, and you can NOT imagine climbing up all that way on your feet, much less on an elephant. No-sirree-bob. Military homeschoolers have the ‘real’ world covered.

 

Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

Dependent children?

This concern that homeschooled children will be overly dependent on the family may be one of the indicators of our Zeitgeist, the spirit of the times in which we live. In the past a closeknit family did not send up a ‘red flag’ to society in general. On the contrary, family members who flitted about with little common time between them may have been the family that the neighbors tut-tutted about — and tutting neighbors are a universal constant.

Many children’s stories reflect the previous close-knit relationships, if only by default.

  • Alice’s sister reading to her at the beginning of Alice in Wonderland
  • The four children in Edward Eager’s stories, Knight’s Castle, The Time Garden and Half Magic
  • Anika and Tommy from Pippi Longstocking
  • The brother and sister in The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  • Meg and her brothers in The Time Quartet by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Even the hobbit cousins of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Frodo, Pippin and Merrie

Family culture used to be the bulwark of Society instead of Pop Culture being king. Instead of cleaving together to fight dragons or engage tesseracts, now it is expected that children will ditch their dysfunctional family and go off alone into the world to meet and interact with . . . who?  Just who is it that we’re expected to find who isn’t a member of yet another dysfunctional family?  Who are we supposed to meet in order to do . . . what? … become one with the Corporate Borg? That would make a great story.

Of course not all stories depict closely knit families, and many adventure stories are about young people who set out on their own or who are orphans. The Harry Potter series has an orphan as the main character, a character who is almost always in the company of his surrogate family. In the place of siblings are Hermione and Ron, while his surrogate parents are in the forms of professors Dumbledore and McGonagall. Ron’s mother Mrs. Weasley fulfills the most maternal step-mother role (the Dursleys exist more as a challenge to Harry than as family).

Close families are a feature of most human society.

Concern about the sometimes all-but-exclusive relationships between homeschooled siblings can be allayed by considering the future. With whom will your children be most closely allied twenty years from now, or even ten? This is especially true with military children.

  • Who else will remember the house where you’d get an electrical shock if you touched the bathroom sink faucets with wet hands?
  • Who else will remember that really bumpy flight back from Germany?
  • Who else will remember that drive back from Strasbourg in the sleet with one windshield wiper broken?

If it is friends who might remember, how often will your children get back together with those friends to recall the memories? Comparatively, how often might your children get back together with each other to not only recall times past, but also to build new memories with their own families?

Children of military families have fractured pasts lived in farflung places.  Even if a former Brat is lucky enough to visit an old home after twenty or thirty years, how might it have changed? The Jack Nicholson character in the movie About Schmidt isn’t a military Brat, but he returns to a childhood home to find it is a tire store. His hopes of touching the past are dashed. Military children can return to a place and find entire housing areas torn down. Or they find that a base has been closed and a good many of the structures either ‘re-invented’ or gone.

If we’re lucky, we Brats will have visited a grandparent while we were children and that house is still in place. But as for our own homes, the places of our youth are usually in the hands of strangers, or they’re on another continent. Decades after we’ve found out that our own ‘Hundred Acre Wood’ is not only explored but has been bought by a developer who has placed houses at Pooh Corner, and especially when our parents are aging or have died, our only foundations are dependent on our memories and those of our siblings.

 

Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

Ways to make friends

Ways of meeting new people, and making friends with some of them, are through joining scout groups, youth groups at church, sports teams through the youth center, and special interest clubs (such as the ski clubs or Volksmarch groups) that are popular in European military communities. If siblings join the group together, in classes such as a ballet or horseback riding class, they are bolstered by their togetherness and may not present as much of a ‘new kid target of opportunity’ for either exclusion or bullying. The children’s security decreases the ‘fear signals’ that bullies pick up on; there is safety in numbers.

Homeschooling support groups are another source of acquaintances-that-might-become-friends. We often forget that the grand majority of people we meet don’t develop into ‘friends,’ but remain of the acquaintance type. Not every woman in the installation women’s or spouses’ club will become friends and not all men in the Tuesday Night Men’s Bowling League will bond. Likewise, your kids may not choose to befriend all of the children at the homeschool get-togethers, but there may be a special one or two who either ‘click’ or who will share an interest. In any case, none of the support-group kids will call your children ‘those weird homeschool kids.’

Homeschool group outings are a good way to get out-and-about with like-minded people, and fast friendships may develop, but don’t pressure your kids to ‘make friends’ just for the sake of saying they’re properly socialized. Today’s popularity contest style of human interaction, however ‘normal’ it may seem, isn’t the only way to have relationships with other people. One need only look back at stories such as Little Women to see either small-group friendship or ‘homeschool sibships.’

Installation housing areas are another source of potential friends. Unlike civilian neighborhoods where your neighbor might be the retired mayor of the town, an elderly widow or a young man who bought a ‘starter house’ with an eye to the future, the people living in government quarters are, by and large, families. Childless couples may live in quarters and senior members whose children are grown may also choose on-post or on-base living, but they are in the minority. Families whose children are still infants may be your neighbors but, on the whole, there are kids everywhere. With luck some of those kids are friend material.

 

Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

The summer PCS

Good looks notwithstanding, being the ‘new kid’ is never a picnic. Both homesickness for the last duty station, and the intricacies of adjustment to a new social group take time to work through. Does homeschooling ease this particular transition? It can, as evidenced by a peculiarity of military life: the Summer PCS.

Why is it that families prefer to move during the summer? What is it about moving between June and August that is more pleasant than moving in October or November? Is it only the weather or the lack of most major holidays for which special foods are cooked? Is driving easier? If school vacations happened between 1 January and 15 March would the summer PCS phenomenon still occur?

Is it that much easier to get the quarters ready for a checkout inspection during the warmer months of the year, especially if the kids aren’t tracking snow and mud into the house? Is it easier to lessen the break in lessons? Or do the kids adjust easier when they don’t have to adapt to a new community, climate and house at the same time that they have to meet, alone and without a supportive friend, an entire new school?

Regardless of why the military has a summer PCS phenomenon, that is when most of us are transferred.  Luckily for homeschooling families, PCSes at other times of the year are not as disruptive of the children’s schooling.

 

Copyright 2008, Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

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