How Teachers Can Help the Children of Those Who Serve


Originally Posted by: Health.mil Staff MHS blog

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

School can be the most routine and predictable place for a child who’s dealing with a parent’s deployment. And, that’s a good thing. Teachers can make the most of that stable environment by incorporating a few techniques to help military children feel safe and included while at school.

Military Kids Connect, an initiative of the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2), offers a host of information that teachers may incorporate in their classrooms, including military-related lesson plans.

Military Kids Connect suggests that deployment can be used to teach students about geography, math and social studies. Lesson plans can be crafted to show children where on the map their parent is currently deployed, how to calculate when their parent returns and explain the land and vegetation where their parent is currently located. The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation also offers military-inspired lesson plans for teachers of middle and high school students.

Teachers can encourage children to journal their feelings and create a scrapbook of their lives so their parent can see what they’ve missed while they were deployed. Older students can take that a step further by scrapbooking online. Using photo-gathering and sharing social sites like PinterestFacebook and Flickr helps create a single place for uploading and sharing photos, videos and status updates with a deployed parent.

Military Kids Connect has developed the “Where Are You Going” interactive map activity for children to explore the culture, clothing and music of children in the countries where their parent may be deployed. For students who need more academic support, the Department of Defense has partnered with Tutor.com to provide a free online tutoring program.

In the instance where it’s just one or two students in a classroom who are experiencing a parental deployment, it may be helpful to expose the entire class to what it’s like to have a parent deployed. This helps all classmates understand what the military child is experiencing at home. It also creates a sense of commonality among the children.

Military Kids Connect suggests a few more helpful ways teachers may engage children of deployed parents:

• Have students create a time capsule while a parent is deployed, only to be opened when the parent returns home
• Invite a service member to speak at your school to explain what it’s like to be deployed
• Create military care packages to send to deployed service members
• Maintain an open line of communication with the non-deployed parent to keep track of the child’s progress
• Work in partnership with the federally-funded STOMP (Specialized Training of Military Parents) program to better serve students with special needs

A stressed student may mean there’s a stressed parent at home as well. Teachers should be patient and understand that children of deployed parents may be unfocused at first. In the event that the worse-case scenario happens and the parent does not return home, Military OneSource offers counseling to military families and service members.

This T2-produced video highlights some of the unexpected challenges teachers often face when working with children of deployed parents.

Visit Military Kids Connect for more resources for educators to help students cope with parental deployments.

Find more resources for military children and families on Health.mil.

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For more family support resources, please see MilitaryOneClick’s Family Support Page.

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