I am so excited to be able to bring this brand-new post series to you. We have a wonderfully diverse country and each state has a different set of requirements and laws that govern homeschooling. As a result, I thought you would find it helpful to hear from people in each state (and across the world!) who have homeschooled – especially if you’re on the fence about homeschooling in your particular state!
Please note that these experiences, while they may discuss state requirements, are not legal advice, legislative summaries, or compliance recommendations. I encourage you to do your own research on your state’s current homeschool laws and seek help from official sources if necessary. The Homeschool Legal Defense Agency is a great place to start though you may find a more state-specific organization that you prefer to work with.
Today, I am pleased to bring you Mindy’s experience homeschooling her military family in Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii, and even Italy! Mindy is a Christian wife and homeschool mom who loves dark chocolate, red wine, and travel. She blogs at ADeclutteredLife.com. When their children are all grown and her husband retires from the Navy, they plan to travel North America full-time in an RV.
“I was meant to be a homeschool mom and didn’t know it. When my oldest children were three and four, they attended preschools that I carefully selected and loved. But at home, we made homemade play dough, painted, and read lots and lots of books. I was picky about the toys I brought into our home. I favored blocks, puzzles and make-believe props. And I loved taking our little ones to the playground, zoo, and aquarium. A few years later when we started homeschooling, I’d see these same things pop up again: art projects, reading, carefully chosen materials, and as many field trips as we could manage.
We are a Navy family of 24 years. Homeschooling has been the perfect educational choice for our family. It allowed us to maintain consistency, no matter where the Navy sent us. And it allowed us to take full advantage of those wonderful places: Maryland, Italy, Virginia, and Hawaii. Each location has different, amazing opportunities to offer and we took full advantage of that.
Our homeschooling adventure started in Maryland, as our oldest son was starting 2nd grade, our daughter was starting kindergarten, and our youngest son was a busy toddler. We joined a fun and supportive homeschool group which made all the difference in those early years.
In and of itself, Maryland is a wonderful state for homeschoolers. I’m fairly certain there isn’t any place on earth (well, maybe London) with more to offer within an hour’s drive. In D.C. and Baltimore, we enjoyed museums, plays and concerts. All over the state and in surrounding states, we visited every historic site we could squeeze into 4 years. I especially loved all the colonial and other early American history sites. Even young children can get a lot out of a visit to places like Claude Moore Colonial Farm, Ford’s Theatre, and Fort McHenry.
Maryland offered several options for state oversight. We opted to provide a portfolio of the children’s work each year. To be honest, I resented the time spent carefully assembling the portfolios each year. In hindsight I can say it was not that big of a deal and that I stressed over it more than I should have.
From Maryland we moved to Italy. There was a small homeschool group on the military base where we lived and we made fast friends through it. We follow the Classical Christian model of homeschooling, with a heavy focus on history. Having the opportunity to travel around Europe visiting sites from ancient and medieval times really made history come alive for all of us. Without a doubt, it was the highlight of our homeschool life. I’m incredibly grateful for that time!
From there, we moved to Virginia Beach, VA. I have to say that I just love homeschooling on the East Coast. Homeschooling is very popular there, resulting in many choices when it comes to groups, co-ops, and tutorials. We joined a two-day-a-week music-based program. Our older two were in high school then and our youngest was in middle school. They made wonderful friends and even had the opportunity to experience things like dances and prom, and performing with a choir. Again, we found ourselves in an area with many historic sites and short drives to even more. By high school though, academics took up a lot of our time. Between that and soccer and Boy Scouts, we no longer had much time for field trips. I’m so glad we prioritized those when the children were younger! In Virginia we opted to do standardized testing each year, which is my preference when it comes to state requirements.
In 2015, with our oldest in college, we moved back to Hawaii, where our family life began years before. Our daughter was finishing up her senior year and our youngest was in 9th grade. Besides the year-round warm weather, beautiful beaches, and friendly people, Hawaii has a lot to offer. It is a true American melting pot and my children are able to experience many different cultures here, especially Polynesian and Asian. Museums and historic sites are much more limited here (it’s a small island!) than what we found on the East Coast and in Europe, but they offer a different perspective on history and culture, which is a great thing for children/teens to experience.
We’ve always spent a lot of time outdoors. We love hiking and camping. We’ve hiked in the Southwest, California, the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, and even the Alps. But hiking in Hawaii is it’s own special treat. The ecosystem is very unique here, and the views are breathtaking. We also enjoy learning about the marine ecosystem. We’ve seen whales, sea turtles, and seals, “swam with the dolphins”, and even got in a shark cage. Here, we again opt to do standardized testing to meet state requirements, easy peasy.
We’ve now been homeschooling for 14 years. Our oldest two are both away at college. Our youngest is finishing up 10th grade. Homeschooling is coming to a close for us in the next couple of years. There were plenty of hard days, weeks, and months, but I think homeschooling is one of the best things that ever happened to our family. It has been such an amazing experience. I wouldn’t trade all the time spent with our children for anything else in the world.
My advice? Hang in there through the hard days. Things always get better. And get out there and explore. National parks, state parks, even small town museums have so much to offer. Enjoy the adventure!”
Have any of you homeschooled in Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii, or Italy like Mindy? Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear about your experiences!!