Our military kids are a unique bunch. By default, they’re drafted into a life demanding sacrifices many most adults shy away from! It is promising to see the ‘powers that be‘, (politicians, educational gurus, and child advocates), are finally acknowledging what we, as parents, have long known! The tremendous challenges placed upon our kids simply from our chosen lifestyle are enormous, as is the potential for negative consequences in their educational, physical and social well-being.
According to stats from Families on the Homefront, there are now over 2 million kids (birth – 23) with at least one parent in Active Duty, Reserves or National Guard. 1.3 million of these are school age (4 – 18.) Their world gets turned upside down so many times it becomes the ‘norm’ – through frequent moves, deployments and not to mention trying to navigate a parental minefield of adults struggling to deal with the same!
On the educational front, all of the above can take a negative toll on grades, test scores and even in understanding those tricky ‘building blocks’ of math. Causes most often cited include multiple PCS moves, stress from missing mom / dad – or both – away at training or a long term deployment… and the rarely mentioned reintegration struggles of having a parent come home gravely changed.
The ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ (ESSA) passed by Congress will attempt to study the academic impact the various stressors have on military children over time. Starting with the 2017-2018 school year, all school-age military kids within the public school system will be issued an identification number known as a “military student identifier”. This will allow schools to track test scores, academic progress, graduation rates, attendance, and other metrics currently unknown. Advocates proclaim this tracking will allow them to become better equipped to identify and provide needed services to enable children to succeed.
Our kids possess (or grow into!) that military mindset – and ARE amazingly resilient! Still – the recognition additional, specialized academic support should be available within the public school system is receiving praise from military families and academia as long overdue. It is a shared desire to see students succeed.
Homeschooling: An Alternative Solution
More and more military families are now choosing homeschooling as a viable method to help their kids reach their highest potential. Homeschooling in general has grown significantly in the past twenty years… exploding especially within the past five!
Avoid Curriculum Gaps: Unless there’s a complete overhaul of the U.S. Military enabling families to opt to maintain a true ‘permanent’ duty station, kids will continue to move every few years. Kids in a career military home may experience six to nine moves from kindergarten through high school… or more! For kids attending school outside the home, this fluctuation in school systems can result in missed topics.
The benefit? By homeschooling, military families are able to provide consistency for their kid’s academic path. There’s no worry about missing coverage of important subjects or topics. During a PCS, simply take a break while moving then pick back up where you left off!
Family First Scheduling: As a military family, you recognize just how precious family time can be. Homeschooling allows for flexible scheduling (*unless you select an inflexible curriculum.) You’re not tied to a standard school calendar and instead may choose the days and times which best suit your family. Upcoming deployment? No need to ask permission to let all of you spend extra time together making memories. Vacation breaks can again be set to whatever’s best for your crew!
The benefit? Kids are able to feel more emotionally secure within their core family unit which in turns boosts their focus and confidence academically.
Custom-Fit Education: Perhaps you have a child struggling with math concepts but on par with his grade level in all other subjects. With homeschooling, you’re able to drop back solely for that particular subject to recover topics and move forward when ready.
Another way to individualize is to tap into your child’s interest. Together you can explore space, the Old West or even zoology – building learning opportunities which engage and encourage your child with a desire to know more.
The benefit? By being able to adapt to your child, you create an environment with far less frustration. Building up abilities, engaging his interests – all academic boosters! Be careful – you may inspire a lifelong passion for learning!
How are your children receiving an education? Do you have concerns about the military student identifier or questions on homeschooling? Please ask them in the comments or join our Military Homeschoolers Facebook group for support!