The lifestyle of an RCMP family is a different one than most families. There would be some other careers that would bring about a similar lifestyle, but as being a Mountie wife is the only thing I have first-hand experience with, that is all I will speak to here.
We have been an RCMP family for 11 years and a homeschool family for 5 years now. Homeschooling wasn’t necessarily something we had planned, but over time it has become quite clear that this homeschool journey works perfectly for this quirky RCMP lifestyle.
Some things about RCMP life that are different than many other families are moving every couple of years, lots of travel for the officer, strange shift schedules with often working on holidays, nights, and weekends, and sudden on-call. (Again, I am fully aware there are other careers that experience similar things, but I am speaking only to my own experiences.) Due to the reasons I just listed, homeschooling is something that fits well into our family schedule and allows us to prioritize family time.
Every year, I see more and more RCMP families turning to homeschooling or contact me with questions about homeschooling. If you are an RCMP family wondering how homeschooling would work for your family, let me share some of the reasons we love this lifestyle!
Flexibility is a key requirement of being an RCMP family! Between shift work, on-call, overtime, courses, and court, it is hard to predict or plan much. Homeschooling allows so much flexibility for the other members of the family. Routine and rhythms of the home still help the days go more smoothly, but the ability to work around the working parent’s schedule is extremely beneficial. If the working parent has to travel out of town for a course of a week, the whole family can go along. Homeschool resources can be brought on trips and done in the car, hotels, parks...there are so many options. Everyone can sleep in after a night shift if need be. When the kids are home all the time, family trips can be taken whenever the member parent is on days off. An added perk of this is travelling at non-peak times and getting better deals as well as lighter crowds!
Family time is very important to our family; so important that it is one of the main reasons we have made the decision to homeschool. It can be difficult in the RCMP life to find much time for family when you have school age children. There are lots of night shifts and weekend shifts as well as time away. The beauty of homeschooling with a shift working parent is that when the parent is home on a weekday afternoon, the kids are home too! You can work your homeschool schedule around the shift working parents schedule, adjusting your days off of school to match their days off of work if you want or doing school later in the day if the parent is home in the early part of the day. It allows you flexibility to adjust school around your family time.
Having the working parent home during school time also adds to the school experience. It allows both parents to be involved in the schooling process, building those relationships and sharing their own specific skill sets. There are skills my husband excels in that I do not possess and vice versa. It allows our kids to be exposed to more skills and different ways of teaching when we both get to take part in their homeschool journey.
As already mentioned, one of the more common factors of RCMP life is the frequent moving. We are in our 4th community in the 11 years we’ve been in this lifestyle. Due to this, our kids have to leave friends and find new friends every few years. It is important to us that they have a good relationship with each other so that, no matter what, they have their closest friend with them wherever we end up going. Being together all day long as siblings helps build that bond. It doesn’t mean they never fight, but it does mean we have the time to learn how to problem solve. They learn how to disagree, hurt feelings, and then make it right. They learn how to talk things through. And, Lord willing, their relationship will be better for it. For better or worse, we’re a team. We spend a lot of time together, and we will always have each other!
One element of RCMP life that can be difficult on families and children is how often moving happens. Depending on where you are posted, you could move as often as every 2 years. RCMP kids become resilient and many are adaptable, but it is still hard. It is hard on anyone to say goodbyes and start over, to have to find their way in a new group of friends. There aren’t too many consistencies over the years as an RCMP family, but homeschooling can be one of them. We love that school for our children stays consistent throughout our moves. Both moves we have done since they were school age happened in the winter, so in the middle of the school year. Homeschooling allows less interruption to the school year with a move and allows that consistency to carry on. They know what will happen with school and who their teacher will be no matter where we live! Lots of fun learning takes place while you explore your new community!
This does mean you need to be more intentional with trying to meet other families and other children, but it is not impossible. Find organized activities such as church, AWANA, library programs, sports, etc. and attend them. Check out local parks, beaches, and other places you may meet other children. Research online to see if there is a homeschool group in your new community or ask on a community forum if there are other homeschoolers in the area. It can definitely be done, and your child will not miss out.
For our family, we have found homeschooling to be an excellent compliment to our RCMP lifestyle. We are in our 5th year, and we can’t imagine it any other way!
Kristin is a former teacher who now homeschools her two daughters, ages 9 and 7. She has lived many places in Canada due to both her teaching and being an RCMP wife. She is a writer and content manager with The Canadian Schoolhouse. She blogs at From Kristin and is passionate about helping mothers feel equipped to educate their children. She does homeschool consulting to help those starting out or struggling to choose a curriculum. She loves reading and travelling and actively posts on her Instagram.