Tag Archive for Military Children

Homeschooling in the Military

Homeschooling is quickly becoming a viable alternative for many military families. Additionally, homeschooling is becoming more ‘mainstream’ in the civilian world, adding to its viability as an option for military families. Military families move an average of once every 2 to 3 years, often in the middle of a school year, and that instability is what compels many military families to opt for schooling their children at home.

Take a walk down the aisles at either your local library or your local bookstore and the section on education and homeschooling can be a bit overwhelming. So where do you begin? Here are some suggestions and resources to help get you started.

First, you need to consider why it is your family is choosing to homeschool. When we made our decision to start homeschooling, the first thing I did (because I am a big list maker/writer-downer/journaler) is to write out not only my reasons WHY we were choosing to homeschool as well as a few goals. Our list of goals is actually quite fluid, changing not only from year to year, but also subject to subject and even unit to unit. You’ll find that your goals will actually help you choose what path to take with regard to curricula.

In addition to your reasons and goals for homeschooling, you need to look into your state and local homeschooling requirements. Some states regulate homeschooling more stringently than others. The Homeschooling Legal Defense Association (www.hslda.org) is a wonderful resource for this information. You do not need to become a member of HSLDA – though I would recommend it – in order to access this information on their website. You can also look up your state’s department of education and search for homeschooling laws and policies. Following the state’s guidelines for homeschooling is very important and should be one of your first steps.

Now it’s time to look at curriculum. Once I had a good idea of our goals, I sat down and really thought about the ways in which my children learn best. I have one child that absolutely loves to read and often times needs to be reminded to pull her nose out of whatever book it is that she is buried in to join the rest of the world. Because of that, I knew that whatever curricula we chose should rely heavily on literature and give her ample opportunities to read as part of her learning. My other child is much more of a kinesthetic learner, preferring to “do it” as opposed to simply reading about it. Therefore the curricula we chose for him needed to have plenty of hands-on learning.

From there, I started researching curriculum. I researched not only by reading books about curricula but also by talking to other homeschooling parents and asking them what worked for them and why it worked. This part of the process can be incredibly overwhelming as there are literally hundreds of choices for each subject. Do not let yourself become overwhelmed! Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint race. Do your best to find what works for your child(ren) but also give yourself the leeway to change curriculum if need be. Case in point: we started off with what I thought would be a fantastic language curriculum only to get about halfway through the year and then realize that it was horribly dry and boring. So we switched! I purchased the curriculum used and was able to sell it for about what I paid for it so I really wasn’t out much money and we found something that worked much better for us.

Your local library should have books on homeschooling as do most mainstream bookstores; and there is always the internet. My top recommendations for resources are the following:

1. The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Baue

2. 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum

by Cathy Duffy

3. The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition

by Jim Trelease

There are hundreds and hundreds of methods and curriculum options out there. Some people prefer to go with an all-encompassing curriculum choice, such as Sonlight or Abeka. Some people prefer to piece things together, choosing different publishers for language, math, history, science, etc. And some people eschew the idea of structured school all together and, instead, opt for a more relaxed approach to education and learning via the ‘unschooling’ route. Every family is different. Every circumstance is different. The key is knowing both your children’s learning styles and what your goals are for them. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint!

 

Image Credit: Abandoned Art School 66 by xshamethestrongx, on Flickr

Trooppaws Giveaway: A Perfect Deployment Friend for Kids

When Trooppaws contacted me to ask if I could share their sweet stuffed animal plush puppies, sewn from authentic military uniform fabric, I immediately asked if I could offer one to a reader, instead.

My husband was deployed while I was pregnant with our first child. And, as difficult as that was, not sharing that special experience, the stress after hearing of our daughter’s heart condition, and the early colicky weeks, I cannot compare it to telling children that their beloved father will be gone for an entire year.

Nothing can take the place of a parent or other loved one in a child’s life but offering a special, personalized gift can help ease the anxiety of separation.

The creator of Troopaws explains her inspiration: “The courage of family members left behind is so admirable that my hope is that loved ones find strength and comfort in this personalized keepsake. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Folds of Honor Foundation.”

From the website: Each Troop Paws measures 14″ in height and is made of authentic military camouflage. They each are adorned with a gro-grain ribbon bow tie and attached to the neck is a metal logo printed dog tag on a key chain. The filling of the Troop Paws are 100% soft poly hypoallergenic. On the right sleeve is a woven American Flag label. The front of the Troop Paws has a clear pocket which is where the photo of your troop goes. They are proudly made in the USA.

If you would like to enter to win a Trooppaws of your choice, you may enter one or more of the following ways:

1. Leave a comment below with a tip or question about easing deployment fears for family members.
2. Like Troopaws on facebook and Army Wives’ Lives on facebook and leave one, additional, separate comment saying that you did.
3. Share the giveaway on the social network of your choosing. Leave one, additional, separate comment saying that you did and input the URL of what you shared as your website.

Rules/Disclosure: I did not accept any fees or products for offering this giveaway. I am simply choosing to support this small business that supports us. Giveaway ends 11:59 PM EST, July 6, 2011. Winner chosen at random. Prize will ship to US postal addresses, only. Please do not put your e-mail address in the body of your comment. If you leave your address only in the e-mail field, I will be able to see it and spammers will not.

Bag It Forward for Children of National Guard Soldiers

Would you Bag It Forward with me and help school children throughout the country?

Money is tight everywhere and people are struggling to ensure their kids have opportunities and the families of our soldiers are no exception. Most of our National Guard serves part time until activated for deployment. These soldiers work full time jobs besides their one weekend a month, two weeks a year training obligations. However, like too many other Americans, some of these soldiers have lost their full-time jobs in the latest economic downturn.

There are laws to protect our servicemembers but it is possible that the frequent deployments and training commitments have made some of these soldiers first on the list to go at their workplaces.

Most families do not want their soldier to spend time away from the family but for some, active duty becomes the most economically safe option. Just imagine looking forward to a deployment just so your family has a steady paycheck!

There are a number of agencies and volunteer groups that try to fill in the gaps of the needs of our servicemembers and their families. For example, Operation Homefront’s Backpack Brigade supplies backpacks full of supplies to eligible military families every year.

Elmer’s selected me as a paid Bag It Forward ambassador and gave me a $100 gift card to Walmart to purchase school supplies for my daughter and for a family in need. I was thrilled to be able to donate the full amount to the back-to-school supply drive for the enlisted soldiers’ families in my husband’s National Guard unit. Some of the members of my local moms’ group chipped in with more backpacks and supplies, too.

After the video, find out about how you can Bag It Forward and earn a $10 donation for Adopt-A-Classroom. Elmer’s will donate up to $10,000 to Adopt-A-Classroom to aid their mission to increase opportunity for student success by empowering teachers with community partners and funds to purchase resources for the classroom. You can help end teacher-funded classrooms with just a blog post or facebook note!


Elmer’s will donate up to $10,000 to Adopt-A-Classroom with your participation. Join now!

ELMER’S VIRTUAL BAG IT FORWARD RULES

  • Copy and paste these rules into your blog post or facebook “note” (look on yourr left sidebar).
  • In you blog post or facebook note, give a “virtual bag of school supplies” to other bloggers or facebook friends by linking to them or “tagging” them in your note.
  • Link back to the person who gave you a bag of school supplies.
  • Let each person you are giving a virtual bag of school supplies know you have given them a bag.
  • Leave your link in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward comment section. You can also find the official rules of this virtual #bagitforward program there. (http://bagitforward.org/donate-a-bag/)
  • Elmer’s is donating $10 for each blog participating in the Virtual Bag It Forward Donation to Adopt-A-Classroom (up to total of $10,000 for blog posts written by September 10, 2010).
  • Please note that only one blog post per blog url will count towards the donation.

My Patriotic Girl

Normally I don’t post video of my kids but when my daughter started singing this song a few weeks ago I just had to share.

She was born while her Daddy was deployed to Iraq– while he was on his way to Baghdad Airport to come home on leave. He missed her birth and only had two weeks with her before he had to return for the final months of his tour.

He came back, though, and is a loving father to her and her little baby brother (who decided to add something in at the end of the video).

Hope you like my patriotic girl!

Ask Molly: Moving “Home” During a Deployment

A reader posted this comment:

Does anyone have any advice? My brother is due to deploy overseas within a year and it is causing problems in his marriage. His family (young wife and 2 year old daughter) and my family moved half way across the country two years ago to forge a better life away from the West coast. Our father also lives here. We are all within minutes of each other. Now that he is due to deploy, his wife wants to move back in with her mother out west. He doesn’t want her to. They have a home here, pets, her job, baby’s daycare, etc. I’m sure he wants to know that while he is deployed, someone is here maintaining a “Normal” life for him to return to. Her mother has been trying to get her to return the whole two years and is pressuring her, also. (Of course they never got along when they lived together before.) My sister-in-law is afraid to stay alone, but we all feel that she needs to be as strong here as he is being in his deployment. Does anyone have any advice on books, etc., that might help her understand his point? Thanks.

Elizabeth | 11.11.07 – 2:10 pm |

Dear Elizabeth,

Hopefully some of my readers will add their comments as well so you can get more than one perspective.

Deciding whether to stay where you live with your spouse or return “home” with your parents while your spouse is deployed is a very difficult decision.

Before I could offer my own advice and opinion to a spouse, I’d need to know some more details, such as whether the service member is Active Duty, National Guard, or Reserves, how close the spouse lives to a post if the service member is not Active Duty, what sort of support system she has in place, and the length of the deployment.

If the spouse has a good support system in place, the kids have friends, and the deployment is likely to be a year or less, then it is often a good decision to stay put.

Some spouses may find, especially if they have a very young baby, if they have not established a support system, or if they are facing a long deployment, that they would rather move back in with a parent, possibly also saving money.

I stayed in Killeen during my husband’s deployment and it was a mixed bag, but overall I made the right decision for us.

Ultimately, though, every person is an individual and this is a decision that will be made by the couple. Yes, his deployment will be a stressful time for him and he does need the support of his family. Deployment can also be very trying for the spouse, as well, and your sister in law also needs to know that her needs are understood and respected.

While there are some good books out there for military spouses (I link to a number in my sidebar), no book will be able to take into account all the individual circumstances a person may face.

I think it is wonderful that your family is so close. I am sure you have the best interests of your whole family in mind (including your brother, your sister in law, and of course your little niece), but I am a little concerned that you are searching for resources to help her understand his perspective, rather than resources that might allow both of them better understand each others’ points of view.

In the long run, I think that a healthy marriage will grow in depth during the separation, no matter what decision they make. So, the important part is really how they reach that decision.

My suggestions to you is that you recommend they utilize some of the following resources to help maintain the health of their relationship and then allow them lots of space to sort it out together, possibly with a neutral person trained in relationship counseling.

  • Military OneSource: Military OneSource is your one-stop resource for pretty much everything. They even have Master’s level consultants who will answer the phone 24-7 and help military service members and family locate resources, including limited free counseling sessions. You have to register to use the website, but it is all free.
  • The Unit or Post Chaplain: If your brother and his wife are on or near a post, a Chaplain could be an excellent resource. Most will keep religion out of the discussion if asked, and they have training in the specific issues military couples face as well as access to extensive resources.
  • The Family Readiness Group: The leader should be able to at least point the spouse to some resources for making the decision. Also, the quality of the support available might factor into the decision and possibly persuade her to stay.
  • The Military Couples’ Workshop or Retreat: There are a lot of workshops and retreats that may help them work through some of these issues. Some are for those who are experiencing trouble reintegrating after a deployment, but others are open to service members and their spouses before hand. Ask the command about Building Strong and Ready Families program, a two-day program that helps couples develop better communication skills, reinforced by a weekend retreat. If they are Reserve or National Guard, there is a “Strong Bonds Marriage Education Program.”
  • Army Community Services or similar post service: If they are active duty or activated and near a post, there should be an office that is a clearinghouse for various classes and opportunities.
  • Should I Stay Or Should I Go?: Another person’s perspective + 26 comments from readers on the issue. (from SpouseBUZZ)

Hopefully these resources will help them reach the right decision for them as a couple and I am sure your family will support them, regardless of what that decision may be.

My prayers are with your brother and your whole family as you prepare for his deployment.

“Ask Molly” represents only my opinion and the comments of readers represent their opinions. I draw upon my training as a Family Readiness Group leader, my own experience and that of those I know, and any research I found on the Internet. I am not a trained counselor.

Sammy’s Soldier Giveaway

Wow! I added the contest late in the giveaway and I did not think there would be so many military families and friends of military families playing!

I wish I had forty-four copies to give away–there were so many touching stories about military children who need some support and encouragement while their soldier is away! I would strongly encourage you to ask your local or post library to pick up a copy. If you are near or on an Army Base, Army Community Services and the unit Chaplains should also be able to order copies to share with families.

Also, I will have an interview with Sarah White, the author of Sammy’s Soldier, in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, check out her new MySpace for “Sammy’s Soldier”.

Without further ado, random.org chose: Margaret Herrin.

If I don’t hear from her by this Wednesday, I’ll select another winner. Thank you to everyone who entered. Hopefully you all won at least one Bloggy Giveaway.

ETA: Sarah White has also begun a wonderful blog, called “Healing Little Heroes,” on which she will share advice, tips, and information to help children of military families from her perspective as a trained counselor, mother of two, and wife of a former Marine. One of her first articles is about preparing children for a deployment. She was so touched by your interest in the book, she is giving away two more signed copies of Sammy’s Soldier on her blog this week.

If you didn’t win: If you would like to purchase a copy of your very own, Sammy’s Soldier is available on Amazon.

More Contests: Remember, I’m listing more awesome contests throughout the blogosophere on my Win It On Wednesday feature. Check it out for more chances to win.

More Military Family Bloggy Fun: Finally, I hope you’ll stick around to participate in my new Military Family Carnival (starts Monday) and consider Guest Posting on An Army Wife’s Life (all members of the Military family are welcome–you don’t have to have a blog to share and I will accept anonymous contributions)!