Children of military families experience the world in ways their peers don’t. They encounter a wide range of cultures and people, but other parts of their lives can be difficult to bear. For parents, one of the most worrisome consequences of military life is frequent disruption in schooling. Children are resilient, but moving from school to school can introduce a confusing array of standards and expectations.
Online schools for military families can be the answer. Through online schools, children get the flexibility and personalized learning that help them flourish, even as they live through the changes and unique stresses of military life.
The Importance of Supporting Students From Military Families
More than 1.2 million school-aged children come from the families of active-duty U.S. armed forces members. From an early age, they learn to understand service to others and the true meaning of sacrifice. Through life lessons, they build character traits that will serve them for the rest of their lives — perseverance, resilience, teamwork.
However, these benefits come with a price. Children of military families endure challenges, on top of the daily stresses of childhood, that their classmates will never know.
- Parental deployment: Children whose parents have been deployed are likelier to demonstrate problem behaviors and have heightened fear and anxiety, studies show. They can have higher stress levels, trouble sleeping and declining grades.
- Frequent moves: Just when they get used to one town, it’s time to move to another. Friends are left behind, and new cultures must be learned.
- New school: For children who attend traditional brick-and-mortar schools, moving even a short distance could also mean enrolling in a new school. It’s time to learn different rules and expectations. If schedules and curricula don’t align, academics are disrupted while the child either catches up or goes over the same lessons learned at the last school.
- Exposure to violence and injury: Parents try to shield their kids from the impact of war, but sometimes war comes into the home. Children see the effects of trauma and injury. The fear of losing a parent is always hovering. If loss happens, children experience grief at an early age.
How to Support Military Families in School
Supporting military children demands concentrated, sustained effort. Schools can be valuable resources for military families, even as they create an educational atmosphere that promotes academic success for children.
To be supportive, schools should:
- Identify the children of military families: It’s not as obvious as you think. The family deployed from halfway across the world or living on a military base is known and recognized, but the children of part-time National Guard members or reservists aren’t always automatically identifiable. Under the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, schools must use a system known as the Military Student Identifier to track military kids in the student body.
- Be welcoming: Children who enroll from military families should be embraced and welcomed as full-fledged members of the school community. They should be taught about school traditions and encouraged to join extracurricular activities and clubs.
- Recognize the special skills of military children: Kids from military families understand leadership from an early age. They are quick to volunteer their time and talents. Supportive schools leverage those talents to make children feel like valued, contributing members of the community.
- Offer support during deployment: When a parent deploys, a child’s life can turn upside down. The parent at home who suddenly takes on both parenting roles might have less time for helping with schoolwork or attending school activities. When other kids see their parents in the bleachers or the auditorium, military kids see an empty seat. Children themselves can be expected to act like little adults, shouldering at-home responsibilities. Schools can help by working with families to adjust homework assignments and testing circumstances. For the emotional toll, they can offer counseling that helps students express their feelings. Schools can also connect parents with community services for help with daily challenges exacerbated by a spouse’s deployment, including transportation, paying bills, household maintenance and finding child care.
- Educate students about military life: Children love learning about other cultures — even the different cultures in their midst. Schools can use a variety of means to build empathy among all students for the challenges facing their classmates in military life. They can bring in military personnel to talk about their service and its personal sacrifices. They can weave examples of military service into daily lessons or ask military students themselves to share their experiences through projects and presentations. Service-based learning projects can be designed to support military members and veterans in the community, giving children glimpses into military service and its impact on daily life.
CCA Resources for Military Families
Parents wondering how online school works for military families will be pleased to discover that online learning from CCA can be a great solution. CCA offers a public education that is crafted to the needs of each individual child, all at no cost to families.
CCA offers these resources for supporting military families who relocate to Pennsylvania.
- Personalized learning: All children have talents, learning styles and challenges that are all their own. CCA teachers and administrators work in partnership with parents to craft learning plans personalized to each child’s passions and circumstances, including the accommodations to support military families making sacrifices in service to our country. In fact, a report from the Lexington Institute on how to create a welcoming learning environment for military children concluded that personalized learning is one of the most effective ways to help military children succeed academically. CCA offers everything from extra support to honors and AP courses, all designed to meet children where they are in their academic journeys.
- Flexibility: Military families need the flexibility to manage their own schedules as they meet the demands of everyday life and their special responsibilities. CCA’s online learning lets children take classes, do schoolwork and study on their own timelines, from wherever they are, without bending to the arbitrary schedules of traditional brick-and-mortar schools.
- Socialization and hands-on learning: One of the best ways to feel like a part of the school community is to participate in activities. CCA’s rich array of clubs helps children explore their interests with like-minded peers. Field trips bring children together to see their academic lessons come to life in state parks, museums, adventure venues and historic sites.
- Career planning: Children need to understand what all their learning is leading to. CCA introduces elementary students to the world of career options and encourages high school students to have workplace internships and experiences. As students approach graduation, their school activities and classwork hone in on preparing for what’s next in life, whether that’s college, career training, the workforce or following in the footsteps of their parents by joining the military.
Learn More About Commonwealth Charter Academy
Military families deserve respect from their school communities. For children, tangible supports should take the form of academic accommodations, emotional guidance, and recognition of the unique skills they offer and challenges they face. CCA uses the power of online learning to deliver a personalized, flexible experience tailored to the needs of each family. Contact us today to learn how CCA honors our armed forces members by supporting students from military families.