The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 26, 2013

Military bases open their doors to home-schoolers

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. — A growing number of military parents want to end the age-old tradition of switching schools for their kids.

They've embraced homeschooling, and are finding support on bases, which are providing resources for families and opening their doors for home schooling cooperatives and other events.

"If there's a military installation, there's very likely home-schoolers there if you look," said Nicole McGhee, 31, of Cameron, N.C., a mother of three with a husband stationed at North Carolina's Fort Bragg who runs a Facebook site on military home schooling.

At Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, the library sported special presentations for home-schoolers on Benjamin Franklin and static electricity. Fort Bragg offers daytime taekwondo classes. At Fort Belvoir, Va., there are athletic events and a parent-led chemistry lab.

At Andrews Air Force Base about 15 miles outside of Washington, more than 40 families participate on Wednesdays in a home schooling cooperative at the base's youth center. Earlier this month, teenagers in one room warmed up for a mock audition reciting sayings such as "red leather, yellow leather." Younger kids downstairs learned to sign words such as "play" and searched for "Special Agent Stan" during a math game. Military moms taught each class.

There are also events outside the co-op, such as a planned camping trip for kids reading Jean Craighead's "My Side of the Mountain."

"Some weeks I wonder how my kids are going to do the school side of school because they are so busy socializing," said Joanna Hemp, the co-op's welcome coordinator.

Military families move on average nearly every three years. The transition can be tough for children, and home schooling can make it easier, advocates say. The children don't have to adjust to a new teacher or worry that they're behind because the new school's curriculum is different.

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