Getting parents involved in your classroom and invested in your students’ education can be difficult, even when they are nearby. It’s even more challenging when the parent is far away. Parents who are in the military have more obstacles to overcome when it comes to participating in their child’s education due to training and deployment. Teachers should consider, for the sake of the student, the needs of military families and how to accommodate their circumstances.
Here are some steps you can take as an educator to work better with
1. Watch the student closely and provide extra support. Deployment is stressful for everyone in the family, and the child may show signs of stress in the classroom. He may let out anger or fear in bursts of activity that disrupt the class or wear on peer relationships or, the child could perform at a lower level academically. Educators should watch for these signs and be ready to support the child.
2. Meet with the parent before they leave. If possible, meet with the parent(s) prior to an extended deployment to discuss how you will stay in touch while they are away. Make sure to ask questions about how and when the parent will be able to communicate. Come to the meeting with ideas for how the parent could participate in classroom activities, like video chatting for a remote career day presentation or sending the class a cultural gift from their area of deployment. Reassure the parent that you care about their child and will be one of the many adults looking out for him during the parent’s absence.
3. Use online tools to communicate. The parent will not be able to receive school memos and take-home flyers that teachers often use to communicate essential matters with parents and guardians, and they won’t be present at parent-teacher conferences or special events. Go2s is an excellent communication tool to use to reach a parent that can’t physically be involved with the school community. Teachers can easily take a photo of important school notices or shining examples of the child’s schoolwork and quickly share it with the parent. Go2s also has calling capabilities so you can include the parent in a scheduled in-school conference or even reach them outside of school hours if the parent’s schedule requires it. You could also record videos of the child participating in class activities or making presentations and share those as well. The possibilities are practically endless!
Military deployment can be a trying time for a family and their community, but it’s also an opportunity to strengthen relationships. Families will always remember the teacher that took the time and care to keep a deployed parent involved in the classroom.