Children who have a parent serving in one of the Armed Forces can have additional challenges that other children may not experience, or may not experience to such an extreme degree. They may experienced frequent moves, each time meaning the child is 'the new kid' again, having to establish new friendships and relationships with the teachers at school. It also means they have suffered a loss, their previous school, friends, family, familiar community and environment. Depending on the individual child's resilience this can have a significant impact upon their emotional welfare and through this their academic progress. They may have a parent who is frequently absent from home meaning the remaining parent is a sole carer, this may result in them being a young carer for part of the time depending on their family's circumstances. Not only may they be experiencing understandable feelings of loss in relation to the absent parent, their may be additional emotional stress caused by fear and anxiety if the absent parent is in a warzone or dangerous environment. Older children in this instance may also experience additional stress by feeling they have to step up to replace the absent parent within the home. These are just a few examples of why we feel it is important that these children are supported emotionally at school.
We have a (naturally supportive) club called Military Monkeys, who meet on a fortnightly basis. All military children can choose to opt in or out as they feel necessary. It is very informal, but offers the children the opportunity to have dedicated time to socialise with children who feel the same. There is no judgement, no need for explanation and the opportunity to have fun.
One week we meet during assembly time, on a Friday morning, and have circle time. This offers us the time to catch up and chat, have a story and just see how everyone is. We also have a 'where in the world' board, marking where the children's parent (my special person) is at that time. During our assembly session we update our 'where in the world' if someone has travelled. The opposite session is again held on a Friday, but this time is a slightly longer session during the afternoon. During this time we have activities and games. During all sessions the children have a drink and a biscuit.
Military Monkeys have their own display board in KS1 which parents are always welcome to come and look at to see what we have been up to!
If you would like further information on Little Troopers please click the link: http://www.littletroopers.net/
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