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Vance family embraces home schooling

Amie Smithley works with her son Matthew on a lesson about the days of the week. Amie and her husband, Chaplain (Capt.) Jon Smithley, currently stationed at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., decided to home-school their five children. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Frank Casciotta)

Amie Smithley works with her son Matthew on a lesson about the days of the week. Amie and her husband, Chaplain (Capt.) Jon Smithley, currently stationed at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., decided to home-school their five children. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Frank Casciotta)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- There are many important decisions to make when it comes to your child's education. One of the most important is where your child will attend school.

"Since you're likely to move several times, and schools have different criteria, it can be very hard on children's education," said Amie Smithley, wife of Chaplain (Capt.) Jon Smithley with the 71st Flying Training Wing Chapel.

The frequent moves, compounded by the complexity of a military lifestyle, are why the Smithleys chose to home-school their five children--who range from preschool to high school.

In addition to school work, Amie ensures her children are involved in the community and are able to network socially with their peers through local sports programs, both on base and in the community.

She also used the Internet to find a local home-schooling community that gets together for gym class.

"Military families are always moving, and because of this, they are constantly dealing with the different educational requirements of each state," said Greg Waide, Airman & Family Readiness Center flight chief at Vance Air Force Base.

To help overcome these educational transition issues military families face, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children is an effort by the Department of Defense, working with state and local school districts, to establish standards for enrollment, placement, eligibility, attendance and graduation for students in military families.

Waide said parents do not need any expertise or credentials in education to home-school their children. There are many community programs available as well as home-school programs online.

The A&FRC is also a valuable resource. In the past, the center has offered classes for parents to inform them of their options when it comes to home-schooling their children. Waide says he anticipates the next class will be held this summer.

Amie had a final piece of advice for potential home-schoolers. "If you can do it and want to do it, I think home schooling would be great for any family, but it does take a lot of patience."

For more information on home schooling, contact the A&FRC at 580-213-6330.