Over two million children in the United States are being taught at home, and that number continues to grow. As homeschooling becomes increasingly popular, military and DoD civilian families are also choosing this educational alternative.
Because military personnel are frequently transferred to train or serve at different bases across the country and throughout the world, children of military families are required to change schools often. For some children, these moves threaten their sense of security and self-confidence. Interruptions in the continuity of life and schooling can also have a detrimental effect on educational progress.
Homeschooling is a logical choice for families in the military, providing a stable environment amid frequent changes. Even more important than the academic continuity is the opportunity to develop strong family bonds—the most secure support system children can have.
Homeschool Requirements for Military Families Outside of the United States
All 50 US states have mandatory school attendance laws. However, children of US military and DoD civilian personnel are not subject to US state mandatory attendance statutes while posted overseas. Instead, military dependents may be subject to the school laws of their countries of residence.
The DoD operates elementary and secondary schools (DoDDS) for children of US military families who reside outside of the United States. However, the federal statute which authorizes these schools (20 U.S.C. § 921 932) does not address mandatory attendance. Its implementing regulation (DoD Regulation 1342.13) also does not require mandatory attendance.
Military Families Homeschooling in the United States
If a military family is homeschooling in the US, they should become familiar with the requirements of the compulsory attendance laws of the state in which they reside. All requirements for homeschoolers enacted by state legislatures or established by state courts also apply to military families who homeschool.
Information on your state’s laws can be reviewed on our website or, if you are a member, by calling HSLDA.
Military Homeschoolers’ Access to DoD Academic and Extracurricular Classes
At times, homeschooling families have been denied auxiliary services or faced military officials misinterpreting policies in regard to their homeschool program. HSLDA is committed to defending homeschool freedom no matter where you reside and will correspond with officials on your behalf.
HSLDA's advocacy helped to establish a new policy which was friendly to homeschooling families. On October 15, 2018, the DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) issued its new homeschool policy, establishing equal access for homeschoolers who
wish to receive supplemental education services without formally enrolling in DoDDS schools. The DoDEA Administrative Instruction on Home-School Students is
located on the DoDEA website, along with an FAQ.
According to the FAQ:
It is DoDEA policy neither to encourage nor discourage DoD sponsors from home-schooling their dependents. DoDEA recognizes that home-schooling is a sponsor’s right and can be a legitimate alternative form of education for the sponsor’s dependents.…
For the purposes of use or receipt of auxiliary services without enrolling or registering in DoDDS, a DoD dependent must be eligible for space-required enrollment as specified in DoD Regulation 1342.13, “Eligibility Requirements for Education of Minor Dependents in Overseas Areas.” For the purposes of use or receipt of auxiliary services without enrolling or registering in DDESS, a DoD dependent must be eligible for tuition-free enrollment, as specified in DoD Instruction 1342.26, “Eligibility Requirements for Minor Dependents to attend Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS).
For answers on how to start homeschooling overseas if you are in the military, to join a military home school support group, or to receive free legislative and regulatory updates, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.