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Child Development and Education

Child Development

ZERO TO THREE is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to “promote the healthy development of our nation’s infants and toddlers.” The organizaton’s website provides a substantial amount of research-based, practical information on general child development guidance, including information about brain development, early learning, school readiness, child care, health and nutrition. The site is arranged in sections for parents and for professionals and includes a topical A-Z listing, journal articles and “Tips of the Week.” In addition, ZERO TO THREE has a wealth of information specifically developed for military families — and those who support such families — about how to help young children build resiliency and cope with parental separation, relocation and other stressors.

The Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! podcast from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Early Childhood Development provides information for parents about celebrating milestones, the importance of health screenings, how to identify delays and early concerns and how to provide developmental supports for children.

Parents can learn more about children’s developmental milestones and consult the developmental stages products available for download on Military OneSource:

If military parents are concerned their child might have a developmental delay, the Exceptional Family Member Program works with other community and military agencies to make sure military parents have the early intervention services their infants and toddlers need.

The Defense Department teamed with the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State to create a parenting-education program, Thrive — a free, online parenting program that promotes positive parenting, stress management and healthy lifestyle practices. Thrive can help parents raise healthy, resilient children from birth to 18. Thrive has four interactive modules organized by age group:

  • Take Root: for children ages 0-3
  • Sprout: for children ages 3-5
  • Grow: for children ages 5-10
  • Branch Out: for children ages 10-18

Child Education

The Military Child Initiative works to improve educational environments for military children to meet their unique needs. The initiative works through a partnership with the Defense Department, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Johns Hopkins Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships. The website provides information about the initiative and the technical assistance available through this program.

The Head Start program is available to families that have low income, a foster child or a child with special needs. The program teaches reading, math and other developmental skills to children age 5 and younger before they start kindergarten. Children also receive nutrition, health and social services.

The Sure Start Program was developed by the DOD to provide Head Start-like services to military families living overseas. The full-day preschool program is open primarily to 4-year-old children of eligible command-sponsored service members. The program provides hands-on, interactive experiences and activities that focus on interest areas such as computers, dramatic play, toys and games, sand and water, library, outdoors, music and movement, cooking, discovery, art and blocks.

The Military Child Education Coalition is a nonprofit organization that promotes partnerships and provides for networking of military installations and their supporting school districts. The website provides links to their education resource center, initiatives, publications and research, and training opportunities.

The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children is designed to make  transitions smooth for families moving to a new duty station. If families are moving to a new state and their children are heading to a new school, the compact can help with their transition by ensuring children can enroll in school, register for the classes they need and graduate on time. Learn more about how the interstate compact makes changing schools easier for military children.

The Military K-12 Partnership between the DOD and the Department of Defense Education Activity, or DODEA, has all of the services working with educators and administrators across the nation to provide quality education for all children of military families. The DODEA parent resources section also offers a wide variety of online educational activities and programs to support children of all ages.

The School Liaison Program is available through each installation’s school liaison office. School liaisons help children get settled in new schools so that they can thrive academically, socially and emotionally, regardless of duty station, deployments or transition status. School liaison positions were created to provide targeted, professional support at all military installations to assist military families with educational challenges associated with transition, deployment and reintegration.

The Exceptional Family Member Program can help families navigate the DOD’s network of services and support if they have a child with a disability or special need. Parents can use the EFMP & Me online tool to create an education checklist with information and resources tailored for their individual family needs.

The MWR Digital Library is a free, online resource for service members and their families that offers a wide variety of activities and materials for all ages. The service includes eBooks and audiobooks on virtually every topic. Children can learn to read, explore interests, research school assignments, access professional tutors for homework help and much more.

Sesame Workshop has various toolkits to help military families with young children handle the challenges of military life. The videos, resources and games can help build a strong foundation to help children cope and thrive.

Military OneSource education consultants can assist families with questions about their children’s education. These one-on-one sessions are free, confidential and can provide them with referrals to in-home tutors and tutoring centers in their area as well as public and private school information. Parents can call 800-342-9647, view international calling options or schedule a live chat at any time to schedule an appointment.

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