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3: Educators

Repeated and extended separations compound stressors in the lives of military children. With 90 percent of military children attending public or private schools or other school options rather than Department of Defense schools, it is important for educators everywhere to learn new ways to help them.

All school personnel – teachers, coaches, school nurses, and guidance counselors – are great influences on the children and teens they work with. They also provide children and teens with a good support network when a parent is deployed. Because of their unique relationship with the family, school personnel are able to serve as safety nets by screening families who need assistance.

Action Items:

  • Seek out training that is available online and in person to help your efforts with military children and youth. Some basic research can help you understand the feelings your students are experiencing as the wars continue and children and teens show signs of distress.
  • Your daily contact with children and teens gives you a unique opportunity to notice a change in behavior. Early screening for possible stress or emotional challenges can prevent more serious problems that occur when left unnoticed. Recognize that disciplinary problems may be a result of deployment-related stress.
  • Schools should work with installations and unit commanders, or their designees, to coordinate major events, such as homecomings and reintegration periods after units return home. If military leaders and schools can coordinate these major activities they can minimize disruptions.

  • Watch for signs of stress in the student’s caregiver or at-home parent as they interact with you or other school personnel. Research shows that poorer caregiver emotional well-being was associated with greater difficulties for military children during and after a deployment. Learn about military and civilian resources in your local area where you can refer your students and their parents or caregiver.
  • Explore ways you can involve deployed service members in the educational life of their children by including them on class email lists, by inviting them to talk with the class when they return, and by assisting children without computers at home in sending emails and other greetings to their deployed parents.

Resources:

The National Military Family Association created Toolkits for Military Kids and Teens to give the people in military kids’ lives a way to help them manage stress and affirm the positive aspects of military life. Visit www.militaryfamily.org/publications/deployment-family-research to download the toolkits.

The Military Family Research Institute, in collaboration with National Military Family Association, has created a series of informational brochures titled, How to Help Military Families. These guides provide practical tips and suggestions for helping your neighbors, friends and community members who have a military affiliation. Download the brochure for How You Can Help - Early Childhood Educators or the brochure for How You Can Help - Higher Education.

Department of Defense Educational Activity Educational Partnership works with local schools to provide caring adults to enhance the education experience for military children. Visit www.militaryk12partners.dodea.edu for more resources and information.

Military Child Education Coalition provides resources and training for parents and educators of mobile military children. Visit www.militarychild.org for more information.

The American Association of School Administrators offers training support to school leaders: 5 Things School Leaders Can Do To Build Connections; 5 Things School Leaders Can Do To Offer Support; 5 Things School Leaders Can do to Promote Academics; and AASA Toolkit: Supporting the Military Child. Visit www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=8998 to download the materials.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center of School, Family and Community Partnership created an online course for school administrators, support staff, and teachers to help all students meet life’s challenges with resilience, focusing primarily on students from military families. Access course information at www.jhsph.edu/mci/training_course.


The American Academy of Pediatrics Military Youth Deployment Support Website works to attain optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all military dependent infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Visit www.aap.org/sections/uniformedservices/deployment/index.html for more information.

The American Psychological Association developed a series of brochures entitled, “Resilience in a Time of War.” The brochures discuss a variety of topics on how children cope with deployment and homecoming. To download the brochures go to www.apa.org/topics/military/index.aspx.