How Virtual School Works for Military Families
Between the frequent moves and stress of parental deployment, the children of our nation’s military families make many sacrifices. Often they’re the new kid on the block, adjusting to a new school and making all new friends. That’s why, in honor of the 1.8 million military kids in our country, the U.S. Department of Defense celebrates April as the Month of the Military Child.
Fortunately, with the additional option of virtual school available today, the one thing military children won’t need to give up is a quality education. Here are a few reasons why virtual schools can be an excellent solution for military families:
- Portability. Depending upon your school, you may be able to continue with the same online school in a new location, avoiding a stressful transition. Public online schools like Connections Academy are available in many states, and private online schools like International Connections Academy are available across the country and worldwide.
- Long-Distance Involvement. Virtual school means that lessons, assignments, and grades are all accessible online, so a parent stationed overseas can remain up-to-date and involved in his or her children’s education. This connection to the family’s daily life can help lift spirits and keep family ties strong during a period of separation.
- Access to rigorous curriculum, exciting electives, and Honors and AP courses. Not all school districts are created equal. By enrolling in a high-quality online school, you can ensure your child receives a top-notch education filled with opportunities to explore his or her interests—even if you are relocated to an area where budgetary issues have led to program cutbacks.
- Flexible schedule. With virtual school, your kids needn’t fall behind while moving to a new duty station. You have the ability to rearrange your child’s daily agenda according to your family’s needs. This flexibility also makes it easy to schedule school around doctor’s appointments, music lessons, and other family commitments and activities.
- Flexible location. With online school, children can attend virtual classroom sessions and do schoolwork wherever there’s an Internet connection—on base, at home, at the library, or during a trip to Grandma’s house.
- Parent involvement. In virtual school, an adult, typically a parent, acts as the Learning Coach. This can add much needed stability and consistency for a child whose family moves frequently. This participation in your child’s education also demonstrates how highly you value learning—and that’s a lesson your child won’t forget. You know your child best, so your input and feedback to his or her teacher can really support the learning process.
- Close family ties. Many families that do online school find the experience draws them closer together. Parents also find it tremendously rewarding to see their children’s “aha!” moments and watch them grow daily. The teamwork and bonds this shared experience builds can strengthen the family during deployments and other stressful times.
If you’re a member of a military family, have a relative who serves, or have close friends in the Armed Forces, then you should discuss the importance of service with your child. Understanding the responsibilities and the possibility of deployment can help children prepare for the ever-changing lifestyle of a military family. Here are some resources that can help:
- The Department of Defense’s Real Warriors Campaign website offers tips for talking to kids about deployment and other military family concerns, plus coloring pages.
- American Academy of Pediatrics offers videos for military kids dealing with stress management, family separation, and reunions.
- Military Kids Connect offers helpful resources for parents and fun games for kids of all ages.
If you are part of a military family—or if know a military family—please remember to thank the kids for doing their part and supporting their loved ones in the service!
How has virtual schooling helped your family—military or not—meet your children’s needs? Share your thoughts in the comments below.