One of the biggest struggles military families face is maintaining a great education for their children while moving around the world. Although military kids see and experience things that their peers will only dream of for years to come, that doesn’t always translate into school credit or something finite that will help them with transitions or fill missing gaps on transcripts.
Add in the trouble of choosing between DOD and local schools and being stationed in states or communities where the education is particularly bad, and it’s easy to see why education is such a concern for military families. For some, this leads to alternative education like homeschooling or private schools that may be able or more willing to work with them. For others who cannot afford the fees or time at home with their kids, hard decisions just remain a part of normal life.
Statistically, public schools are the biggest concern for military families. According to the DOD, of the 1.2 million school-age military children, 1.1 million attend public schools.¬† They also state the average child of a military family will transition twice during high school, which is arguably one of the more difficult times to move, especially for the college-bound teen. Over the course of a military parent’s career, military children attend up to nine different school systems. These types of figures make military education a huge concern for families and a big priority for the government (although some would argue to the extent.)
¬†What can you do to help your child?
- ¬†Make sure to take their mental health seriously. PCSing is stressful on the whole family, but can be particularly hard on kids. Check Military One Source for free counseling options and other ideas for managing transition stress and try to be understanding when your kids act out. Also, check our our special article in SargesList’s PCS Guide about Smoothing Moves for Kids.
- Look into the Military Interstate Children‚Äôs Compact Commission. The Compact is for public schools and its goal is to eventually replace the policies that affect military kids in every state. They are aiming to establish a familiar, consistent policy in every school district and state that joins. Policies outlined include those that affect enrollment, placement, attendance, eligibility and graduation. As of now, school district enrollment is voluntary, but it’s worth a look to see if your state/district is on the list. They also have fantastic resources for transitioning military children on their website.
- For more information state provisions, parents can contact their children‚Äôs potential schools or military school liaison. To locate a school liaison, visit http://www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil.
- Once the difficult military business is taken into consideration, MilitaryDutyStations and Great Schools are wonderful resources to help you with your house hunting decisions and school selections.
This is by no means a complete look at military kids education, and we’d love to hear from you if you have a resource or suggestion to add. You can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.