If you are the parent still at home, how much are you expecting the child to help with the household chores?
All members of a family should contribute to helping the home run smoothly, but a child’s primary job is to be a student. If adding responsibilities such as chores, or taking care of younger siblings, are cutting into the time your child needs for studying and doing homework, he or she could fall behind in class. Likewise, if there is no longer time for leisure activities, spending time with friends, or extracurricular activities, your child is missing out on experiences that could help him/her weather this time without one of his/her parents.
Are your child’s teachers communicating with you, or are they worried about bothering you?
Did your child get into trouble in school, or get sent to the nurse’s office but you didn’t get a phone call? It’s possible that the school staff at your child’s school is trying so hard not to create more stress for your family during deployment that they aren’t involving you in everything that is happening with your child. Try to stay I close touch with someone in the school so they feel comfortable keeping you informed. Note that some teachers and administrators tend to contact parents only when a child is in trouble. Help them understand how important it is for you and for your child to hear about your child’s strengths and accomplishments
Are support networks available?
National Guard and reservist families may not have the same family support services available to them as active duty service members. It is even more important for you to communicate with your child’s school to make them aware and let them make suggestions for lightening the burden.
Is your child involved in fun activities at school or in the community?
If your child begins to pull away from activities he/she enjoys, or doesn’t have time for fun because of added responsibilities at home, this could lead to resentment or social/emotional problems later.
Is your child eating well?
Proper nutrition can contribute to improved performance at school and can alter a child’s mood. You may wish to consider preparing meals ahead of time to keep school nights from getting stressful because of homework and other responsibilities. Cooking meals together is an activity enjoyed in many families and children tend to eat better when they are the ones helping to make the meal.
What if my child has special needs?
When meeting with the IEP team, it’s important to communicate that since your child is growing up in a military family, he or she may face increased stress, or emotional instability that might be contributing to behavior or learning outcomes.
STARs in Schools recommends visiting www.branchta,org. This group has resource centers in areas across the US and they are eager to extend their services to Reserve Component families. It is their mission to support families with children with special needs, especially when the military assignment requires relocation.