Homeschoolers tour educational continuity|
by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs
7/22/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Home schooling is gaining popularity across the country, especially at military bases.
"The military just have some unique circumstances in particular that make home schooling an ideal option in certain situations," said Debby Ramsey, director of the Maxwell Area Home Educators, an association of home schooling parents.
She understands being in a military family. Her husband, Lt. Col. Mark Ramsey, is director of staff at Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer Education.
At Maxwell, families may be here for a short time as part of a military member's professional military education. Schooling children at home can offer a consistent education during frequent moves, Debby Ramsey said.
The Ramseys developed a curriculum for Joey, 6, and Josh, 5, around their lifestyle. After breakfast, the boys start seat work, or what is typically thought of as schoolwork done seated at a desk, and end before lunch. In the afternoons, they take field trips, read, swim or do art and science projects. They even studied the ocean during a visit to their grandparents on the coast.
"Home schooling is incredibly responsive, concerns are immediately identified and proactively addressed -- no waiting for parent teacher conferences while your child continues to struggle or fall behind," Debby Ramsey said.
Since the boys advance at their own pace, Joey is working out of a third-grade math book and can write in cursive.
According to the Department of Education, an estimated 1.5 million students were home schooled in the U.S. in 2007, an increase from the estimated 1.1 million students in 2003.
As a result, opportunities have increased to assist parents.
"The military (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) infrastructure allows dependent homeschoolers of active-duty members to take advantage of programs that might normally only be offered through a school district," Debby Ramsey said.
Base youth centers offer art classes, science and math programs, and sports. Many installations offer music lessons and martial arts classes on base as well.
Debby Ramsey said the Montgomery area is accommodating these students.
"Because home schooling has become so mainstream, and Montgomery institutions in particular have a good history of cooperative efforts with both (Maxwell) and MAHE, most anywhere you go you will find eager reception and accommodation for home schooling needs," she said.
Museums, theaters, gardens and historic landmarks offer specialized tours and services to the home schooling community. For example, the Julliette Hampton Morgan Memorial Library hosts a home schooling book club.
The home school community reaches out to its own parents, providing a diverse education.
"MAHE members often offer to share their talents with other families," Debby Ramsey said. "We have several skilled artists that are happy to include other children in the same class they are teaching their own children, and our family has benefited from attending homeschoolers' (science) labs."
Those considering schooling children at home can contact the MAHE or visit its website through www.homeschoolfacts.com. The organization provides support to the community and gives parents a forum to share stories and lessons.