Over two million children in the United States are being taught at home, and that number continues to grow. As homeschooling becomes increasingly popular, more and more military and Department of Defense (DoD) civilian families are turning to this educational alternative.
Because military personnel are frequently transferred to train or serve at different bases across the country and throughout the world, their children must adjust to a new school with each move. For some children, these moves threaten their sense of security and weaken their self-confidence. Such interruptions in the continuity of life can have a detrimental effect on educational progress.
Homeschooling is a logical choice for families in the military, providing a stable environment in the midst of frequent change. More important than the academic continuity is the opportunity to develop close family bonds—the most secure support system children can have.
Homeschool Requirements for Military Families Outside of the United States
All 50 of the United States have mandatory school attendance laws. However, the children of US military and DoD civilian personnel overseas are not subject to US state mandatory attendance statutes because the children do not reside in any of the 50 states. Instead, military dependents may be subject to school laws in their country of residence.
The DoD provides elementary and secondary schools for the children of US military families. The law which authorizes Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) (20 U.S.C. § 921 932) is a federal law and does not address mandatory attendance. The implementing regulation (DoD Regulation 1342.13) for the statute does not require mandatory attendance either.
Unless otherwise exempted, other US citizens residing overseas (e.g., missionaries), are subject to foreign mandatory attendance laws.
Military Homeschool Families 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 that have been established by state courts or enacted by state legislatures apply to the military homeschool families as well.
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 issues have arisen when homeschool 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 helped to create a solution for those who want to receive supplemental education services through the DoDDS schools. On October 15, 2018, the DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) issued its new policy, which creates an equal access policy for homeschoolers that does not require homeschooled students to formally enroll in the DoDDS schools. A copy of the DoDEA Administrative Instruction on Home-School Students is located on the DoDEA website. You can also see a copy of the policy here.
Regarding this policy, the DoDEA FAQ states in part:
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 visit search our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.