How Online School Can Help Military Families with School-Aged Children

Lea-Ann Lockard

As principal of Texas Connections Academy, I know firsthand how challenging moving and changing schools can be. I grew up with a parent who was active duty in the Navy and experienced several moves throughout my K–12 education. That’s how I also know Connections Academy’s online school can play a big role in helping military families maintain continuity for their students when they have to move.

As a child, I learned how to make new friends and go with the flow each time I moved. Moves can often involve cross-country or even international relocation. According to the Department of Defence Education Activity (DODEA), students with military parents move six to nine times over their K–12 career.

Kids learn quickly to fit in. And it’s not just about academics; students also have to learn how to adjust socially to be successful. Transfer students lack the history that many others in the school share. They come with the stigma of being a “military brat” or being a “short-timer.” I knew military children who were glad to leave a school and start over, but most of the time it was heartbreaking to leave your school.

Academically, students may have additional challenges in that the curriculum differs across the country, leaving students either unprepared for tougher courses or bored because they have already covered the material. And missing credits can leave high school students who transfer scrambling to graduate. I moved from Texas to Florida between my eighth- and ninth-grade year. Many of the classes I was assigned as a ninth-grade student covered the eighth-grade curriculum in Texas. I was reassigned to advanced classes shortly after I arrived although I had never been in advanced courses before.

How can online school help students from military families succeed academically?

Here is how online school can help students maintain their grades, sense of continuity, and connections to friends and family:

1. Online School Gives Students Continuity
In Texas, a new student is eligible to attend Texas Connections Academy if they are relocated to Texas on military orders. State law also allows a student who is the dependent of active military personnel to remain enrolled in Texas Connections Academy if the family is moved out of state on military orders. Many states do not allow students to remain enrolled if they move out of state.

2. Online School Can Help Students Maintain Grades
Studies have shown that frequent moves and changes in schools have been associated with lower grades and a higher risk of dropping out of high school. If a family moves to a state that has a Connections Academy–affiliated school, the student may experience very little turmoil in making the move if he or she continues with the same program. Connections Academy can help students close academic gaps and ensure that there is continuity in rigor even if standards change.

3. Online School Can Help Families Stay Connected
Military families can live hundreds or thousands of miles from their families. Online school allows them to have some scheduling flexibility to travel to see relatives while a parent is deployed. Another benefit is that online school allows the deployed parent to check grades online, communicate with teachers, and review coursework.

I know from my personal experience that military families face many challenges. Why should school be another one? To learn how you can be more involved in your children’s education with more opportunities to provide meaningful input, visit the website for Connections Academy online public school and find a school in your state. Or to learn about online private school, visit Pearson Online Academy ’s website.

About Principal Lockard

Since 2009, Lea Ann Lockard has been principal of Texas Connections Academy, where over two hundred enrolled students are children of active military members. Ms. Lockard’s mission is to build capacity through innovative instructional leadership. She is motivated by helping students and educators reach their greatest potential while she contributes to groundbreaking instructional reform efforts and continuous school improvement.

Ms. Lockard is active in the education field, speaking and presenting at local, state, and national conferences. A committed volunteer, Ms. Lockard served four years as an EMT in rural communities, served two years on the Meadows Marlins Swim Team Board, and currently serves as chairman of the Spring Branch Public Safety Cooperative. Learn more about Texas Connections Academy.

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