Serving in the military is one of the greatest honors one can choose to show their love for their country. As time goes on and the idea of starting a family comes into the picture, however, long deployments and constant travel can be very difficult, especially for children who yearn for consistency in their lives.
Some military children adjust well, while others may not. This is why we chose to write this blog post. Note that the research we share here may come across as shocking and that our intention is to help share information that may benefit children who struggle to feel grounded when parents serve long deployments.
There are many indications that a child may not be adjusting well. Perhaps you notice her eating and sleeping patterns shifting dramatically. Perhaps he begins to show uncharacteristic aggression toward himself or others. Perhaps your teenager becomes listless and stops caring about school, or your toddler suddenly clings tighter to you than a pair of kid’s pantyhose. If this carries on, it may mean your child is struggling to adjust.
So how can you tell if long deployments are what is causing your child stress? The US Department of Veteran Affairs tells us: “Children's reactions to a parent's deployment vary by child, and more broadly, by a child's developmental stage, age, and presence of any preexisting psychological or behavioral problems. Very young children may exhibit separation anxiety, temper tantrums, and changes in eating habits. School-age children may experience a decline in academic performance, and have mood changes or physical complaints. Adolescents may become angry and act out, or withdraw and show signs of apathy.”
Other documented reactions include regression, where a toddler or child seems to experience developmental delays, lose skills he/she knew before, or reverting to old behaviors long resolved. Another symptom is the inability to regulate or control one’s emotions, and exhibiting consistent physical symptoms of discomfort, such as persistent head or stomach-aches, disturbed sleeping patterns, or constant fatigue. Research tells us that these physical reactions are very much real, and should not be ignored, as they often are ways for children to display something is wrong, even though they may not have the words or awareness to tell you what it is. These signs, though disturbing, represent clues, inviting you to act as a detective to source the problem. In teenagers, difficulty adjusting can have more volatile signs, such as aggression toward themselves, others, or pets, withdrawing emotionally from family, hobbies, and school, or a considerable and prolonged drop in their grades.
It is natural that during times of emotional and physical upheaval, your child’s success in school can also suffer. New research from the Rand Corp. finds that “long deployments—19 months or more—take an academic and emotional toll on military children. Army children whose parents were deployed have long scored lower on standardized tests than those whose parents had shorter tours of duty. Teachers and counselors also reported increased social and emotional challenges for children with a deployed parent, according to the study." According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, "Many students from military families fall behind in school following multiple moves because there is no funding for tutoring services, or they struggle emotionally because of the roller-coaster of deployments.”
Does this sound like your child? Here’s how an online school can help.
During a time of incredible upheaval, or when a child is being uprooted regularly, having a school that can move with them can become a constant to ground them when everything else around them is changing. Christa McAuliffe School of Arts and Sciences offers military students the opportunity to advance their studies, uninterrupted, where the friends they meet and connections they make with teachers and their personalized education coach can move with them, wherever they go.
CMASAS credits its success to its unique, engaging and personalized course design. Students can take their online courses anytime, anywhere. A personalized education coach helps students tailor their courses and assignments to resonate with their individual passions, so what they learn stays with them long beyond the course’s end. CMASAS’s courses are mastery-based, where instead of taking standardized tests, students must show at least eighty percent mastery of the material to complete a course.
For high school students, CMASAS offers Honors society, AP courses, is NCAA Accredited, and works in conjunction with a traditional high school's curriculum. Students from CMASAS graduate to go wherever they choose: from Ivy League schools to state colleges to becoming a seven-time world SUP champion. For high school students looking to get started on college credit, CMASAS offers dual enrollment options, where students can apply to get dual high school and college credit by taking a course at a local community college.
CMASAS has been a way for children to enhance their education, get personalized instruction, get the help they need in a one-on-one setting, and adjust their school schedule to reflect their needs. They offer a wide variety of courses, as well as clubs for socialization, regional gatherings around the world, and foreign travel. The biggest benefit for military families is the flexibility that comes along with the ability to take your school with you, should you and your family need to relocate. Your child’s friendships and teachers can go with you anywhere you need to go, offering some stability to an already changing environment.
Relocation and deployment doesn't have to interrupt military kids' education. CMASAS can help students stay current in their studies and develop professional skills that will last them a lifetime. For more information about CMASAS, visit CMASAS.org, or call today at 888-832-9437 x855.