Raising children in a military family environment is difficult and full of perils. There will always be a parent missing from a birthday photo, and sometimes they both might be off somewhere in a boot camp or a distant battlefield. But what does this mean for the children that get dragged along with them?
While there is no denying that military personnel give as much of themselves to their children as anyone, the fact remains that they are absent from time to time. Worst of all, these children change schools as a result of their parent’s career choice, meaning that they have a very hard time settling down, making friends or even paying attention at school.
There will always be a lingering sensation that tomorrow might be their last day of school and that they will just pack up and go to another town near an army base. But how can we alleviate these hardships that children across the US (and beyond) face on a daily basis? How can we create a more flexible and adaptive education system for military families and their youngest members?
The burden of service
The hard truth is that military families in the US move house at least 2 to 3 times per year. This is a huge burden for small children who are only starting to understand the world around them. While serving ones country does come first, there is no denying that children are suffering for it, becoming the victim of their parent’s ambitions.
This is the true nature of the burden each and every parent in the US army faces daily and they would give anything to make things easier for their children apart from being discharged. The fact of the matter is that as a rule parents support their families through the said military work which doesn’t make voluntary discharge a possibility. Balancing both their family’s well being and bringing food to the table in the process can be difficult for military personnel, which is why children should have something good to look forward to in the education system.
The need to adapt
As the youngest members of a military family, children are always asked to adapt to the needs of their parents. This is often a non-negotiable need since military personnel can rarely ask for extra days at home or wait for a child to use writing websites reviews to get a paper submitted. Instead, children go wherever their parents tell them to go, whether that means spending more time in an army base or moving to a different part of the USA entirely.
As a result, children in military families often change schools up to 9 times, which is a huge number considering that most adults change their academic institutions once or twice at the most. This type of education does have its ups and downs, but it also means that children often distance themselves from both their age groups and professors alike. However, children also become very adaptable to new and unknown situations, making it much easier for them to find work or new friends down the line.
Alleviating the hardships
While the situation isn’t ideal, it’s far from bleak and unsolvable. Many professors and institutions recognize military children for who they are and do their utmost to integrate them into their curriculum as soon as possible. Education workers are encouraged to get military children up to speed with current events in order to give them a sense of belonging even though no one knows when they might have to leave and go someplace else. This type of hardship is common for military children, which is why the educational system itself should provide a genuine solution to the issue.
Not every professor on staff will want to go the extra mile and help a child out if it comes to their class one day. This type of alienation can also attribute to the fact that military children are twice as likely to join the military as their civilian counterparts which makes sense in perspective. Their only real anchor in life is the military life of their parents so it makes sense that they would want to pursue it themselves down the line.
A long-term solution
A solution to the issues regarding military children and their education needs to come from the top. If the education system itself includes special programs for said children, their education would suffer less for it.
Including transferable credits and obligatory rules for professors around the US to pay close attention to military children is the only way to really help these young-lings. If the entire inclusion process is on a voluntary basis for all institutions, what incentive do they have to help these children out apart from their love of their country?
Institutions can also benefit from specialized government funding if military children are present and satisfied with the service they receive in the said institution, making it a win-win situation for both sides. A flexible education system with standardized, transferable credits that apply across the US would provide a huge incentive for both military parents and children to work harder on maintaining a smooth education progress. It would also help the children to better prepare for the life after school, when they have to apply for college and whether or not they want to continue in their family’s footsteps in becoming a US soldier themselves.
There will always be difficulties when it comes to educating military children. The country that asks the parents to serve should also make sure that their children are well taken care of. A more flexible and open education system is a much needed innovation in the lives of military parents, but it’s not something we can indulge in today.
Until such time comes, do what you can to help your children transition from one environment to another and try to make them understand what the point of it all really is. Chances are that they will listen to their parents more than their peers and professors at a new school they just got transferred to.
Luisa Brenton is a writer in a variety of venues – education, business, and online marketing content. You can find more on her Facebook.