By Andrew Raven
It's not easy being a Military child.
Whether they're waiting for a parent to return from abroad or changing schools for the second time in as many years, the children of American service members face a host of challenges.
That's why in April, families and schools across the country will celebrate the Month of the Military Child, an annual thank-you to the 1.9 million kids of Reservists and active duty personnel. The campaign is part of a larger effort to recognize the sacrifices of Military kids and help them overcome a host of issues, including frequent moves.
"Being the new kid again and again creates challenges," says Cindy Simerly, a vice president at the Military Child Education Coalition
, a nonprofit group. "As children move from location to location, school to school, it's important to make the transition as smooth as possible."
The average Military child will change schools six to nine times during their academic career, according to the Department of Defense
. That can make it hard for them to keep up with their schoolwork and form long-lasting friendships.
And that's only part of the frustrations they face. Many are separated from their parents for months at a time, which can spark fear and anxiety, especially if their mom or dad is deployed on a combat mission. "Separation is really just par for the course," says Simerly.
That's where the Military Child Education Coalition lends a helping hand. The organization works with kids, parents and teachers to raise awareness about the difficulties faced by Military kids. It also provides practical
support that helps keep children on track in school and makes moves as smooth as possible.
While Military kids do face more challenges than their civilian counterparts, with a little extra parental support they can still excel in school, says Simerly. She recommends parents take an active role in their children's education, going so far as to note what textbooks their kids are reading. That way, when the inevitable move comes, parents can explain to their children's new teacher exactly where their young ones stand.
"We encourage parents to be their child's strongest advocate," she says.
Civilians also have an important role to play in helping Military children, especially during what Simerly calls their "fragile first two weeks" in a new school. Classmates can pitch in by welcoming new arrivals with open arms, helping them feel accepted into the community. As well, teachers can make the transition easier by understanding the needs of Military kids and working with them to make sure everyone is on the same educational page.
Luckily, most kids are resilient, Simerly says, and do well with the right support systems. And being a Military child isn't all that bad; it gives kids the chance to see the world and learn about other cultures. "Travel affords its own type of education," she says.
At the end of the day, she says, supporting Military kids is just the right thing to do.
"It's a duty," says Simerly. "In their own way, they make sacrifices too."
GEICO has been a proud supporter of our Military
since 1936. If you're Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve or Retired, we have special Military insurance policies to meet your needs.