101 Tips for Military Families – Tip #212

School Ideas – Tip #212

There are a lot of simple and inexpensive things that you can do at home or at your child’s school to give them a better sense of time passing, an increased understanding of where their family member is, what it means to be a part of a military family and help them to process and express their thoughts and feelings.  You could share this list with your child’s school, offer to run one of the programs, volunteer to make the question tree, etc. Every little thing we can do together to get our kids talking more, expressing their feelings, asking questions and gaining a better understanding of their lives as part of a military family and community is a good thing.

Top Tips for Schools:

1)    Super ball jar – Each student has their name on a super ball when their parent is away in is in one jar and when they are at home it is in another and that way you know who is missing a parent

2)   World Map (In the classroom or front foyer) each student is able to put a pin in where their family member is so that each day they can see that they are not alone in dealing with absence and/or have a greater understanding of what others are experiencing

3)    5-10 Clocks on different time zones for different areas/countries – even across North America there are different time zones and it would be helpful for them to have a visual to understand that while they are attending school in the morning their family member may be sleeping, eating dinner, etc.

4)    Journal starters:  Today I heard from my Mom/Dad and it was hard/wonderful because…, Things are different when ___________ isn’t at home because…, Life has changed for us because…, The best things about being in a military family are…, The things I learnt about myself when __________ was away is that I am/can…,

5)   Have a class mascot that each student gets to have for a week at home.  Then the student writes postcards to the class each day and their absent family member about the week at their house, what they did and then mails them.

6)    “A day in the life of ________” – Each student does a video recording  a day in their life and sends it to their family member for them to see what a typical day is like at the moment.

7)   Feelings graph – Create a chart or place on a bulletin board with the heading – TODAY.  Students when put a magnet in the column that best describes their mood – “I am hating it, loving it, coping with it, fine with it, etc.”.  This could be done in the morning and afternoon.  It will give the students and staff a good feel for the mood of the room.

8) Balloon Activity – If my balloon could fly to my parent where would it go (map the journey) and what would it see along the way and what message would be attached to it.  Students then create an uniquely decorated balloon with their messages and they are posted up all together.

9)I need to talk pass or card – Create one for each student so if there is a time when they become emotional or need a body break they can pass it to their teacher.  *They need to have a pre-arranged place they can go where they will be safe and accounted for.

10) A scrapbook of the year – The things you’ve missed – accomplishments, happiest moments, etc.  Students would update it each week.

11)  Do some daily announcements that say what the weather is, facts about, etc.  in Afghanistan, Iraq or other countries students have identified as having a family member in and what our weather is going to be like

12)  Instead of just birthdays each student picks an unbirthday day in the school year and they get to come to the office for a pencil or sticker and talk to the principal about what is special, tough, challenging or easy about their parent being in the military and why they have earned an un-birthday, etc.

13)    Question tree – There would be leaves cut out of construction paper for students to ask.  Staff, rear party unit members, parents or students could answer the questions using another coloured leaf

14)    Walking to… – Students create a goal to walk to another country and get people to sponsor them per mile/km and all money raised goes to a military non-profit organization

15)Lunch time club –  students can go and write to their parents via email or using pen and paper

For more information about our tips, resources or books go to: http://www.whileyouwereaway.org

To submit a tip of your own, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

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