For homeschooling military families, each new duty station comes with different homeschool benefits and challenges. Some locations surprise us with easy-to-find homeschool meet-up groups, co-ops, and extracurricular activities. Then, we may move to a new base and it could take years to cultivate community. These 6 items will make your transition to a new duty station as smooth as possible while you get connected to other homeschooling families.

Although primarily a list for military homeschool families, this is still a great resource for non-military families, too! There is a lot of relocation going on these days. If you are moving to a new zip code, check out these tips to find community and resources for homeschooling.

6 Essential Steps for a Smooth Transition

1. Locate Your Library

The local public library is always a favorite hangout spot and resource destination for homeschooling families. We love what the library provides! IYou can build entire learning units from library books. Get your library card and ask about free programs they offer for kids. Often you will find teen book clubs, special events, and story time for the little ones. The local library is a great first stop when you move to a new area.

2. Create Your Field Trip Bucket List

Create a bucket list of local field trip ideas! Start with an internet search. You can also use your favorite social media app to search “field trips in {insert your area}.” Using maps, I search for zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and playgrounds. Historical sites and state and national parks are also great options. Become a tourist to assemble your bucket list of field trip locations.

If budget-friendly activities are more on your agenda, check out the Free Activities for Families resource. There is a Camp Lejeune bucket list, a Twentynine Palms bucket list, and many other cities are covered. (It is not just for military homeschoolers.) You can even add your free or cheap resources to get them included on the list.

3. Find Parks, Playgrounds & Outdoor Rec Areas

We all need to get outside and breathe some fresh air. Keeping a list of local playgrounds, trails, and even beaches will give you good spots to burn off energy. We need those brain breaks in our day.

Parks are great places to meet other homeschoolers, or to even start a homeschool group. I recently chatted with HSLDA Military Outreach Coordinator, Natalie Mack, about starting a homeschool meet up group here in North Carolina. We started simply by scheduling weekly meet-ups at local playgrounds, and our group now has 300 families participating!

4. Sports Leagues/Participation Guidelines for Homeschoolers

Sports rules vary from place to place for homeschoolers. It is the same for military homeschool kids. Right now, our local base only allows military kids to participate in extracurricular sports if they take a certain number of credits at the school. Check the homeschool laws in your area so you know what to expect.

Some military bases offer a homeschool PE course. We had a wonderful PE program in Twentynine Palms, California. But, not all bases are the same. If you are non-military, reach out to local gyms. Many businesses are open to adding programs to support homeschool families.

5. Find (or create!) a Co-Op or Social Meet-Up Group

For me, this is the most vital homeschool connection at each duty station. In some locations, you will readily access a meet up group or co-op. In other areas, it may take the form of casually meeting up with a couple of fellow homeschooling families every few weeks. A great tool to start with is HSLDA’s homeschool group search.

Our local group here in North Carolina started like that. If you are in the Camp Lejeune or New River area, check out the Camp Lejeune and New River Homeschool Families Facebook group. For other military locations, get connected to the Military Homeschoolers Group on Facebook. It is a wonderful way to find other homeschool families in your area.

I want to encourage you. If you are feeling alone in homeschooling, and cannot find a local group to join, consider starting a group. Create a Facebook page for your neighborhood or base community. Invite others to join you by sharing the group on community pages. Reach out to your base school liaison. They can offer support and resources for military families that are homeschooling.

And, if you are not a military homeschooler, there are other great ways to find groups in your area! HSLDA’s group search has information on all types of groups and is a great way to start. Almost all states have a state organization that can give you information on other local groups (their information can also be found through HSLDA’s group search function).

6. Church Community

Your local church is a great way to form community and may have groups to recommend as well. If your church allows, they would be a great location to use for meet-ups. Our co-op in California met at a church. Our current church home in North Carolina hosts a weekly homeschool co-op. Churches are often eager to support homeschooling families. You may just have to ask.

Get Started in Your New Area to Find Community and Fun

Moving every few years in the military lifestyle presents many challenges for building community. We have to quickly find our group, and almost as quickly, leave to start over again. The benefits of being a military homeschool family is every time the military moves us to a new location, we get a new list of field trips, homeschool groups, and family activities to explore.

The process of following this checklist will help you bloom where you are planted and will help your next transition to a new location be a little bit easier as a homeschooling family!