Try These Home-Schooling Tips, Resources

mother painting with kids at home

Current as of September 25, 2020

Many schools across the continental United States and the globe have temporarily switched to online learning to help keep students, their families, administrators and teachers safe and slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019. Here are some tips and resources you can use to help your child learn at home.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

Talk with your child about the pandemic

Children may know more about the virus than you realize, even if they are young and are not talking about it. Here are ways to address the topic:

  • Speak with your child, in an age-appropriate manner, about COVID-19 and its impact on their normal routine and the routines of those around them. Start the conversation by determining what, if anything, they already know.
  • Reassure your child that you are doing everything you can to protect their well-being and that of the family.
  • Encourage your child to come to you with any questions or concerns. You might start a journal together to document your experiences and emotions during this time.

Establish a routine for learning at home

  • Consider your child’s age. The home-based learning experience will be very different for a preschool student than a middle or high school student. Discuss your expectations for learning at home and go over any concerns so you are on the same page.
  • Set and follow a weekday schedule for starting and ending the school day and going to bed. All children benefit from structure, even if they try to resist it.
  • Build in flexibility to accommodate your own work and other responsibilities. You may be teleworking, for example. See if you and your spouse, partner or another adult in your household can share some of the teaching. It might also help to set aside time in the evenings to check over assignments or work together on reading and other skills.
  • Take breaks. Schedule time during the school day for lunch, snacks and age-appropriate breaks. Think physical education, recess, etc.
  • Build in time for creativity. Make time for music, art and other creative subjects. This may include time for your child to practice an instrument, draw, paint, try their hand at drama or develop other skills. Have younger children practice counting by stacking blocks, or build a fort from sheets.
  • Help your child safely connect with friends and relatives. Connecting with friends and family members outside your household is important. Work with your child’s school, their friends’ parents and others to help them stay in touch. Consider taking turns leading virtual lessons or hosting virtual play dates. Have your child write letters to people they care about while practicing handwriting and grammar.
  • Create a designated learning space. Set up a designated learning space that is comfortable and in an area with minimal distractions. Allow children to personalize their space and ensure it contains the equipment and materials they need and can access independently.

Tap resources through your child’s school

  • Embrace online assignments and virtual lessons. Many schools are offering online assignments and/or virtual lessons in place of traditional in-person learning. Monitor your child’s assignments and make sure they complete all work and log in on time for online sessions. Provide any help they need, such as reading instructions and using laptops and other devices.
  • Ask for teaching advice. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teachers, guidance counselors and administrators for advice as you support your child at home.
  • Seek assistance. Contact your child’s teachers or school to resolve issues that may come up with technology, connectivity, assignments and more.

Tap installation and community resources

  • Explore home-schooling resources on your installation. These can include installation school liaisons, Department of Defense Education Activity school activities, and programs for children, youth and teens.
  • Check out Head Start and Sure Start programs. Head Start teaches reading, math and other developmental skills to children 5 and younger before they start school. Sure Start is a Department of Defense Education Activity program open to command-sponsored military children at overseas installations who meet age requirements and other criteria.
  • Reach out to Military OneSource education consultants. They can assist you with questions about your child’s education. These one-on-one sessions are free and confidential and can provide you with referrals to resources in your area. Call 800-342-9647 at any time to schedule an appointment. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.
  • Turn to the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library. This is your source for free online resources for children, teens and adults — including eBooks and audiobooks on virtually every topic. Use the library to help your children learn and stay engaged and entertained.
  • Connect with other parents. Stay in touch with parents in your existing network and work together to widen your circle. Share resources, try teaching virtual group lessons and more.
  • Celebrate reading. The Department of Defense Education Activity joins the National Education Association and schools across the nation in celebrating Read Across America year-round. Check out the campaign’s tools and resources to help your child read, experience its joy and feel valued and welcome.
  • Take advantage of remote learning opportunities. Nonprofit and other educational organizations are offering free resources, such as instructional videos, live streams and webinars, that parents and students can use.

Tap resources in the arts, sciences and more

  • Have a blast with Kennedy Space Center. Inspire a love of science and space by joining Kennedy Space Center’s Facebook Live sessions for young children and young adults.
  • Explore the Smithsonian Institution. Places like the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are reopening as pandemic conditions allow, but can always come to families virtually. Meet the animals, watch them on live cams, check out the Smithsonian Learning Lab, discover museum treasures in 3D, play a wide variety of games and much more.
  • Serve up science lessons. Turn to the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library for resources including ScienceFlix, which offers more than 50 complete units of study with thousands of science-related assets. It uses hands-on projects, videos, interactive features and more to give children and teens a better understanding of science concepts and ideas.

Stay informed

Understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms.

For Department of Defense updates for the military community:

Certification Process Eases for Student Recipients of Survivor Benefit Plan

Mother helping daughter with homework

Current as of May 15, 2020

The certification process has gotten easier for students age 18 and older covered as a child annuitant under the military Survivor Benefit Plan.

The changes went into effect in May 2020, highlighted by the following:

  • A simpler certification form
  • A student’s ability to self-certify
  • An extension of the certification deadline to annually instead of each term/semester

SBP annuity payments for qualifying high school and college students are not affected by school closures in the wake of coronavirus disease 2019.

A quick SBP overview

The Department of Defense sponsors and subsidizes the SBP, which provides an ongoing monthly annuity (up to 55% of the service member’s retired pay) to military spouses and/or children when a military member dies while on active duty, inactive duty or after retirement.

Coverage is automatic and at no cost for members on active duty and for Reserve Component members while performing inactive-duty training. Active-duty members can purchase coverage upon retirement. Reserve Component members can elect full-time coverage, whether on duty or not, when they reach 20 years of qualifying service for reserve retired pay.

The department’s fiscal year 2020 budget made changes to the amount of the survivor benefit. The change, which takes place over three years, specifically affects those spouses and children of service members who died on active duty when the surviving spouse previously elected to transfer the SBP annuity to a child or children.

Student eligibility for the military SBP

The SBP’s child annuity payments typically end when recipients turn 18. You are eligible to continue receiving payments until the end of the school year during which you turn 22, as long as you remain unmarried and you attend one of the following full time:

  • High school
  • Accredited trade school
  • Accredited technical school
  • Accredited vocational institute
  • Accredited college or university

Easing the certification process

The DOD simplified the process of students becoming certified in other ways, including:

  • Students will now self-certify. So they will no longer need a school official’s signature or school documentation when they certify full-time attendance. With COVID-19 school closures, this truly simplifies the process.
  • Simpler Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter for certifying past attendance.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service details the new certification process on their website, including all the changes. Make sure to complete the updated Child Annuitant’s School Certification form.

The DOD is taking steps to make it easier to validate each student’s eligibility with an online option for uploading and submitting school certification forms. Use the AskDFAS online upload tool.

How to submit certification forms

Here are three no-cost ways you can submit your school certification form each term/semester. (Be sure to keep a copy for your records each time.)

  • Online: You now have a convenient online option. DFAS created a submission module, https://go.usa.gov/xymaH, where you can upload a school certification form through AskDFAS on the DFAS.mil website. This is accessible on mobile browsers. Simply fill in the required information in the online screen, and upload a PDF of your completed and signed DD Form 2788.
  • By mail:
    Defense Finance and Accounting Service
    U.S. Military Annuitant Pay
    8899 E. 56th Street
    Indianapolis, IN 46249-1300
  • By fax: 800-982-8459

If you would like to receive email reminders when it is time to submit your school certifications, follow the simple directions to create a profile in myPay.

Questions?

Look for additional information about military benefits on the DFAS website. You can also speak with a customer service representative at 216-522-5955 or 800-321-1080, or write to the address above.

Military OneSource and the Office of Financial Readiness have more resources and tips to help you and your family members prepare for your financial future. Follow FINRED on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and look for more on YouTube (streaming YouTube is currently blocked from DOD networks) and the FINRED website and blog.

Back-to-School Planning During COVID-19

Two students with masks physically distancingImage source: https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/african-descent-girl-on-school-campus-mask-for-royalty-free-image/1251048576?adppopup=true

Current as of October 8, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, parents and students may be facing new uncertainties. Conditions across the world differ widely and continue to change rapidly. In addition, school reopening policies vary and often include instruction and scheduling options. With so many unknowns, making decisions as a parent can be difficult.

One resilience skill we have learned from life in recent months is to focus less on what we can’t control, and more on what we can. And what can we control right now? We can continue to stay informed and practice proven safety measures, and encourage our children to do the same. Evidence shows that safety measures like physical distancing, face coverings and improved hygiene such as frequent hand-washing and disinfecting commonly used surfaces reduce transmission of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for how to safely reopen schools. For detailed information see the following resources and check with your local school district. Your installation school liaison office can provide information and connect you to your local school district:

Back-to-school planning

If your child’s school is reopening and you want to start getting ready, here are some general tips:

  • Talk with your child. Starting school, or a new school year, can be stressful in the best of times. Make sure your child knows it’s OK to be nervous. Try these Red Cross tips for talking to kids about COVID-19 and keeping them healthy.
  • Discuss new policies and safety guidelines. First-time students may be fine with the new procedures. Returning students may need extra time and attention to get used to all the changes. Be sure to explain the need for safety measures, but try to highlight what’s exciting – like being able to see friends again and learn new things. And you can help your child build resilience by encouraging them to look at difficulties as challenges and chances for them to grow.
  • Adjust the schedule. Start to tweak your child’s daily schedule a couple of weeks before the first day of school. Making bedtimes earlier and screen times shorter can help your child develop a healthy morning routine and get ready for the new school year.
  • Check the program. If your child has an individualized education program, review services he or she will receive. Learn about any changes due to new safety guidelines, and talk with your child about them. If you are moving and your child will be attending a new school, check your child’s services there before your move. If you have questions or need backup, your installation Exceptional Family Member Program Family Support staff and special needs consultants can help you identify additional resources and tools your child can use to succeed.
  • Plan around sales. Know when the tax holiday on school supplies will be, and plan accordingly. Look for the supplies list for your child’s classes on the school’s website or ask for one at local office-supply stores. And remember, every day is a tax holiday at the commissary and exchange.
  • Discuss clothes. Chat with your child about what they want to wear before you buy it. This way, you’ll avoid purchasing and returning clothing your child won’t wear, and these small decision-making exercises can help children make larger decisions down the road.

Educational resources

Take advantage of online educational resources. Help your kids get back into a school mindset as they reinforce reading skills, learn stress-management practices, build a paper Mars helicopter or participate in youth programs online. Resources include:

  • The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library offers an amazing variety of education and entertainment resources for all ages. Programs include BookFlix, Explora Primary, Mango Languages and many more. The Teachables program offers printable activities for children pre-K through grade 6.
  • Tutor.com provides live, on-demand tutoring, test preparation and homework help in more than 100 subjects, for students in kindergarten through college.
  • Thrive is a free, online parenting-education program from a Department of Defense partnership with the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State. It offers evidence-based, positive-parenting practices for children from birth to age 18. Check out its downloadable resources for stress reduction, healthy eating and physical activities.
  • Sesame Street for Military Families offers a variety of resources including activities, games, videos and the Breathe, Think, Do wellness app.
  •  Helping Your Child Become a Reader provides tips from the U.S. Department of Education for parents of young children.
  • NASA STEM has a wide variety of science, math, engineering and technology ideas for students in kindergarten through college to encourage the next generation of explorers.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America Virtual Club currently offers 11 programs youths can participate in via the MyFuture social platform. Programs include Digital Literacy Essentials, Media Making, Computer Science, Visual Arts and more.
  • Making School Fun at Home offers helpful tips from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for supporting learning at home for children of all ages.

Talk with an education consultant

If you would like to talk to an expert about educational concerns, Military OneSource offers free and confidential one-on-one sessions with professionals knowledgeable about education resources. Find out how to Ease Back-to-School Transitions With a Military OneSource Education Consultant.

COVID-19 continues to create challenges, and Military OneSource is here to help. Consultants are available 24/7 anywhere in the world to help you stay strong while you navigate military life. No matter what kind of questions or concerns you have, you can call us at 800-342-9647, call OCONUS or start a live chat.

Understanding of COVID-19 continues to change, so check our Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page. Want to find the phone number for your installation’s housing office or Military and Family Support Center? Find those and more on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, an online information directory for military installations worldwide. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms.

For Department of Defense updates for the military community:

Reach out for support

Military OneSource education consultants can help you ease back-to-school transitions.

Take Advantage of Online Learning Resources With Many Children Still Stuck at Home

Boy at home on his laptop

Current as of September 29, 2020

Coronavirus disease 2019 continues to disrupt school and library schedules, presenting challenges for parents to keep their children engaged in learning actitivies. But the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library offers resources to supplement virtual and in-classroom learning.

The MWR library system offers access to many easy-to-use online resources for children, youth and teens. You’ll find eBooks and audiobooks for your child (parents and teachers, too) on a variety of topics, as well as databases, reference books, tutoring services and materials.

These resources are available free of charge to military service members and their families. Some libraries may require you to register and create an online account, but the resources are still offered for free.

Below are descriptions of some of the available resources.

  • BookFlix This library from Scholastic pairs classic video storybooks with related nonfiction titles to reinforce early reading skills and develop real-world knowledge. This cultivates key reading skills, supports reluctant readers and ELL students, and builds fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Please check to make sure that every computer that will access BookFlix meets the necessary technical requirements http://bookflix.scholastic.com/browsercheck.
  • Britannica Academic Enjoy fast and easy access to thousands of articles, biographies, videos, images and websites. Includes ImageQuest, with more than three million images, all rights-cleared for educational, noncommercial use.
  • Britannica Annals of American History This valuable online chronicle provides the original words of more than 1,500 authors who made and analyzed American history through their speeches, writings, memoirs, poems and interviews.
  • Britannica Library Provides three sites in one — Children, Young Adults, and the Reference Center — where you can conduct research, complete school assignments, work on special projects or explore your unique interests. You can even store your research in your personal My Britannica account.
  • Explora Primary Want to learn more about animals, arts, music, health, history, people and places, science, math and sports? Explora Primary can help. Grades K-5.
  • Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia Explore this vast reference library for full articles about thousands of topics. Enter the password “1source” if prompted.
  • Gale Academic OneFile This premier periodical resource provides millions of articles from scholarly journals and other authoritative sources with extensive coverage in key subject areas such as biology, chemistry, criminal justice, economics, environmental science, history, marketing, political science and psychology. Enter the password “1source” if prompted.
  • Gale eBooks is a database of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. These reference materials once were accessible only in the library, but now you can access them online from the library or remotely 24/7. Enter the password “1source” if prompted.
  • Gale In Context: Middle School This library combines the best of Gale’s reference content with age-appropriate videos, newspapers, magazines, primary sources and much more. Students will find outstanding support to complete assignments in core subjects, including literature, science, social studies and history. Enter the password “1source” if prompted.
  • Gale In Context: Science is an engaging online experience for those seeking contextual information on hundreds of today’s most significant science topics. The solution merges Gale’s authoritative and continuously updated reference content with full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, experiments, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites organized into a user-friendly portal experience. Enter the password “1source” if prompted.
  • Mango Languages Check out this digital language learning program for learners of all levels, with courses in more than 70 different foreign languages, 21 English language courses and 44 specialty courses. Mango’s language-learning methodology is designed to simulate the way people learn a foreign language when actually immersed in everyday, practical conversation. Mango Languages also offers more than 40 streaming international movies via its Mango Premier feature.
  • NoveList K-8 Plus provides a trusted source of information curated specifically for younger readers. It helps kids find books that are just right for their reading level and interests.
  • NoveList Plus helps readers discover books they want to read and connects them to library collections. Currently, the NoveList Plus database contains information on more than 500,000 popular fiction and readable nonfiction titles for all ages.
  • ScienceFlix Offering more than 50 complete units of study with more than 6,500 science-related assets in a variety of media, ScienceFlix (from Scholastic) provides students with a better understanding of science concepts and ideas through hands-on projects, videos, multiple text types, interactive features and more.
  • Teachables This library offers printable activities for any pre-K to sixth-grade subject: math, science, reading comprehension, STEM, writing and beyond. Download printable lesson plans, reading passages, games and puzzles, clip art, bulletin board ideas, teacher supports and skills sheets. Access more than 25,000 teacher-created, vetted printables to support your instruction. Enter “military” for your user ID and password if prompted.
  • Teacher Reference Center Access indexing and abstracts for more than 270 of the most popular teacher and administrator journals and magazines.
  • TrueFlix Offering dozens of units to supplement social studies and science core curricula learning, TrueFlix (from Scholastic) helps students improve literacy skills, build content-area knowledge, and cultivate the critical skills necessary for academic success and college and career readiness.
  • Tutor.com Tutor.com for military children gives kids access to online tutoring and homework help from live, expert tutors in more than 16 subjects. Tutors can help with tonight’s homework or catch your child up on missed concepts and lessons, all for free.

Explore the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library today with your family to discover what adventures await your minds.

Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments

Our understanding of COVID-19 is changing rapidly. Stay up to date by checking the Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for updates. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, visit Defense.gov and follow Military OneSource’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms.

Supporting Military Children During the New School Year

schoolgirl with backpack wearing mask

Current as of September 11, 2020

The start of a new school year can be both exciting and a little scary for kids. They may wonder if the work will be hard, if their teacher will be nice and if they will make new friends. With the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic adding a new layer of unknowns, children – and their parents – may be feeling more nervous than usual.

Although military families are known for being resilient, they are not immune to stress. Frequent moves mean children must leave old friends behind and start all over again in a new school or settle in for home learning. A parent’s deployment can effect a child’s ability to focus on school. That’s why a strong community of support is so important. As a friend or family member, you can help the military family in your life rise to the challenges of schooling during COVID-19 by letting them know you are there to listen to their concerns and to help in any way you can.

A new school year during COVID-19

If anything is certain during the pandemic, it’s that nothing is certain. Some schools are fully open but could shut down if COVID-19 cases spike. Others offer remote instruction only, while still others have implemented a hybrid of in-classroom and virtual learning.

You may have strong feelings about the best learning environment for the MilKid in your life, but what your loved ones really need now is your support. Try to understand that everyone’s decision is different and there is no one right answer. The decision to send a child to school is a deeply personal one that each family must make on their own.

  • Ask your loved one what schooling looks like for their child this year. Try to listen without judgement.
  • Ask for specific ways you can help. Remind your service member and their spouse that you are there to support them and their family.
  • Respect the family’s decision even if you don’t agree with it. There is no clear right or wrong response during this time.

Talking with the MilKid in your life about school

Children will react differently to the changes depending on their personality and individual circumstances. A home-schooled child will likely be less affected by school district decisions than one who recently moved to the area and is enrolled in a local private or public school. Some children have trouble focusing on lessons in a remote environment, while others do better without the distractions of a busy classroom. Through simple conversations, you can get a sense of how the military child in your life is coping with the changes.

  • Ask your MilKid about their typical day at school, wherever the schooling happens.
  • Be reassuring and positive, even if you’re worried. Children can pick up on negativity or concern.
  • Ask about favorite subjects and activities, classmates and teachers.
  • Let your MilKid freely express any concerns, fears or sadness. Sometimes children just need someone to talk to.

Ways to support your MilKid’s learning and emotional health during COVID-19

No matter how well children do in school, having adults who are engaged with their education can improve their confidence and help them excel. Here are ways to stay involved with your MilKid’s schooling, whether they live nearby or are adjusting to life overseas:

  • Send gifts that encourage learning and creativity, like puzzles and art supplies.
  • Make or buy masks in prints that your MilKid will enjoy wearing.
  • Offer to be your MilKid’s homework buddy and help with studying. Use video chat and screen-sharing if you aren’t able to be there in person.
  • Give your military child a special photo in a frame for their school desk or a funny sticker to place next to their webcam if learning remotely.

Video chats are also a fun way to spend time together on activities that help with learning and growth. Schedule sessions to:

  • Try new recipes together. Follow the same recipe and compare results. Or coach your student through the steps.
  • Exercise together. This can be as simple as dancing to silly songs if your MilKid is very young. Older kids might enjoy pushup contests or yoga.
  • Work on art projects. Show each other your progress as you go along.
  • Conduct simple science experiments together.

Educational resources for military families

Military OneSource offers online resources that can supplement your MilKid’s learning. Military installations also have a number of offices and programs that can help. Your service member and their family have access to these resources:

  • The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library offers an amazing variety of education and entertainment resources for all ages. Programs include BookFlix, Explora Primary, Mango Languages, Tutor.com and many more. The Teachables program offers printable activities for children pre-K through grade 6.
  • Sesame Street for Military Families offers many different resources including activities, games, videos and the Breathe, Think, Do wellness app.
  • Military OneSource education consultants can assist you with questions about your child’s education. These one-on-one sessions are free, confidential and can provide you with referrals to in-home tutors and tutoring centers in your area as well as public and private school information. Call 800-342-9647 at any time to schedule an appointment. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.
  • Home-schooling resources can be found on installations. Available to help are installation school liaisons; child, youth and teen programs; and activities through the installation’s Department of Defense Education Activity school. Your service member can find these programs and resources on their installation at MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.

Schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic is uncharted territory so expect that your loved ones may feel unsure along the way. Make it a point to celebrate all the milestones and achievements, big and small. Your MilKid may be the student, but everybody is learning and deserves recognition.

The Interstate Compact Makes Changing Schools Easier for Military Children

Military wife takes walks with her children to the first day of school.

When moving to a new duty station means going to a new state as well as a new school for your kids, rest assured that the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children is designed to make the transition smooth. The Department of Defense, in collaboration with the National Center for Interstate Compacts and the Council of State Governments developed the compact to address the educational transitions for military families. All 50 states have committed to helping your children enroll in school, register for the classes they need, and graduate on time.

Through the compact, states are working together to provide a consistent set of policies that will make getting started in a new school, joining extracurricular activities and meeting graduation requirements as easy as possible for military children. Military parents can help their families access this support with a few simple steps.

Help your family benefit from the Interstate Compact during a military move

Enrollment: The compact makes it much simpler to get started at a new school.

  • School records: You can obtain a copy of your child’s school records from their old school to bring to the new one. Use these until the official records arrive.
  • Immunizations: You have 30 days from the time of enrollment to give your child any new required immunizations.
  • Kindergarten and first grade: Children can continue in their current class year, even if the new school has a different age requirement.

Consultants Support Families Changing Schools

If your child is changing schools, an education consultant can answer your questions and guide you to help for a smooth transition.

Placement: Your child’s progress in their previous school will be recognized.

  • Course and program placement: If your child is already in a program, such as advanced placement, the new school must honor that if they have an equivalent.
  • Placement flexibility: Your child won’t have to repeat basic coursework if they’ve taken something similar already.
  • Attendance: The compact enables a student to miss school for military-related reasons.
  • Absence related to deployment: Students may request excused absences before, during and after the related deployment period.

Eligibility for activities: Your child’s eligibility for attending school and extracurricular activities won’t be affected.

  • Enrollment: Your child can continue to attend their same school if they’re living with a relative, friend or non-custodial parent during the deployment. The guardian will, however, need a power of attorney to enroll or give permission to participate in school activities.
  • Extracurricular activities: Even if tryouts or application deadlines have passed, the school will help make it possible for the child to participate.

Graduation: With the compact, graduation for kids in high school won’t be affected.

  • Course waivers: If your child has already completed similar coursework, they can waive courses required for graduation at a new school.
  • Exit exams: The new school district may accept your child’s exit exams and achievement tests required to graduate from their previous school.
  • Senior-year transfers: If your student changes school during their senior year, the two school districts will work together to get a diploma from the former school to ensure on-time graduation.

The Interstate Compact also covers children with special needs changing schools

In addition to provisions in the Interstate Compact, Military OneSource offers these educational resources for families with special needs:

  • The Education Directory for Children With Special Needs: The directory provides the information you need to make informed decisions about education and early intervention services.
  • Exceptional Family Member Program: Your local installation EFMP Family Support staff can help you identify and access programs and services related to education, outreach, local school and early intervention services.
  • Special Needs Consultants: Special needs consultants can be accessed through Military OneSource Exceptional Family Member Program Resources, Options and Consultations, or EFMP ROC. Consultants are available by phone or video to help you navigate the medical and educational needs of your family and connect you with military and community-based support.

If you want to schedule an appointment or have questions, Military OneSource has military-trained consultants in education and special needs. Call 800-342-9647 or live chat at any time to schedule an appointment. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Advance Enrollment for Military Children

Teens talking in library

If your child is one of the 185,000 military children changing schools annually due to a permanent change of station move, you may know about bumpy transitions between school systems. The challenge of transferring records, state differences in education and graduation requirements, and enrollment barriers in sports, electives and extracurricular activities, can be daunting. If your child is on an individualized education program, you add another layer of concern.

Get answers to your special needs health benefit questions.

Request an appointment with a TRICARE liaison. They can help you navigate TRICARE and get the most benefit from your health care coverage.

The Department of Defense worked with the National Center for Interstate Compacts to establish the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children in 2008, which covers common policies for records transfer, enrollment, placement and graduation requirements. These common policies cover many of the concerns experienced by military families, but still leave families to deal with issues once they have arrived at the new duty station. The Deparment of Defense State Liaison Office is working with states to make the task of transferring to a new school easier by giving military parents a temporary waiver to residence requirement. This will enable them to pre-enroll their children in a school district before they arrive at the PCS destination. The initiative, called “Advance Enrollment,” is now policy in 19 states and one more state has a bill currently in progress.

Advance enrollment initiative

Advance enrollment lets your military child register in their new school district at the same time as the general student population, which is generally at the end of the previous school year. Military children moving to a participating state will no longer have to prove physical residence within the school district boundaries before they enroll.

Benefits of advance enrollment for your military child include:

  • The opportunity to participate in random lotteries for charter or magnet schools

  • The chance to enroll in specialized academic programs

  • The opportunity to begin coordinating IEP and 504-plan requirements

  • The ability to register for courses and plan their course of study

  • The comfort of knowing which school they will attend before arriving at the new location                                      

Additional details and supporting states

You must provide the following information to take advantage of advance enrollment:

  • Documentation of a pending military relocation to the state

  • Proof of residency provided to the school district within the required number of days after arrival in the new location

Not every state has approved this policy. States who have passed the policy include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

The following state has a bill in progress to pass the policy: Vermont.

Get more information

Bookmark Temporary Waiver of Residence Requirement for School Enrollment to stay up to date on this policy. If you have questions or need any information regarding your child with special needs, contact your installation EFMP Family Support Staff or an EFMP Resources, Options and Consultations special needs specialty consultant through Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or by live chat.

Advance Enrollment for Military Children

A temporary waiver, which will allow your military child to pre-enroll for school before you arrive at your PCS destination, is now obtainable in 19 states.

College Scholarships for Military Children and How to Apply

Military children awarded college scholarships

Military families have two scholarships designed just for military kids to help ease rising college costs. The Fisher House Foundation administers the Scholarships for Military Children Program and the Heroes’ Legacy Scholarship. These two opportunities for military children assist with tuition costs, books, lab fees and other college-related expenses.

Scholarships for Military Children Program

When you think of your local commissary, you might not think about an extra $2,000 for college expenses. But over the past 15 years, commissaries have awarded more than $16 million in scholarships to more than 8,012 military children.

The Scholarships for Military Children Program was created to recognize military families’ contributions to the readiness of the fighting force and to celebrate the commissary’s role in the military family community.

At least one $2,000 scholarship is awarded at every commissary location that receives qualified applications. More than one scholarship per commissary may be available based on the response and funding. The scholarship provides for payment of tuition, books, lab fees and other college-related expenses.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be under age 23
  • Be a dependent, unmarried child of active-duty personnel, Reserve Component members, National Guard and retired military members, survivors of service members who died while on active duty or survivors of individuals who died while receiving retired pay from the military
  • Ensure that they and their sponsor are currently enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS database)
  • Have a current dependent military ID card
  • Be enrolled or plan to enroll in a full-time undergraduate degree program at an accredited U.S. college or university in the fall term (Students attending a community or junior college must be enrolled in a program of studies that allows them to transfer directly into a four-year program.)
  • Have a minimum, unweighted grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)

You can pick up an application at your local commissary or download one during the application timeframe. Completed applications must be printed and hand-carried or mailed to your local commissary. You may apply at only one commissary, and it is recommended you submit your application where your family typically shops or the closest to where your sponsor lives.

How recipients are selected. Scholarship Managers, an independent, professional scholarship service, selects the recipients based on the following criteria:

  • Academic achievement
  • Participation in school and community activities
  • Work experience
  • A submitted essay

Applications become available in mid-December for the following year. They must be completed and returned to your local commissary by mid-February, and scholarships are awarded in May. For more information, read the FAQs at MilitaryScholar.org.

Heroes’ Legacy Scholarships

The Heroes’ Legacy Scholarship honors those who fell in battle and all who died or became disabled through their active military service since Sept. 11, 2001. Over 1.8 million in scholarships have been awarded in the first five years of the program.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be a child with one parent who died while serving on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, in any branch or component of the U. S. Armed Forces, or
  • Be a child with one parent who became disabled while serving on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001 (which means the parent qualified to receive traumatic Servicemembers Group Life Insurance), or be a child with one parent who was on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and received a permanent and total compensation rating of 100 percent from the Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Be under age 23
  • Be enrolled or plan to enroll full time in the fall term in an accredited U.S. college, university, or junior or community college
  • Have a minimum cumulative unweighted grade point average of 2.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Be a dependent, unmarried children of active-duty personnel, Reserve Component members, the National Guard or retired military members Applications become available in mid-December for the following year. To apply, download the application from the Fisher House website. Applications are due in mid-March. Detailed information and due dates can be found in FAQs on the Fisher House website.

Completed application packages must be mailed to Scholarship Managers, an independent, professional scholarship service. The completed application package consists of:

  • The two-page application
  • A transcript or copy of grades
  • A typed essay of 500 words or less, double-spaced and not longer than two pages (essay topics vary)

You may apply to both scholarships as long as you meet the criteria for both.

Recipient selection. Scholarship Managers selects the recipients based on the following criteria:

  • Academic achievement
  • Participation in school, community and volunteer activities
  • Work experience
  • Submitted essay

Find out more about scholarships for military children. College tuition costs will continue to rise, so take advantage of the financial awards available to military families. Start by visiting Military OneSource, where you can schedule a no-cost, confidential education consultation to learn more about scholarship opportunities and the financial assistance available to military children. Call 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Savings Plans, Student Loans and Scholarships for Military Teens

Teen girl being awarded scholarship

With the many available scholarships, grants and other options for financial aid, paying for college doesn’t have to be intimidating. There are plenty of resources to help you as you begin planning for your future.

As you think about how to pay for school, be sure to maximize financial aid, grants and scholarships first, then look into educational loans to cover the rest. You can also get a head start on saving with a 529 savings plan.

What’s a 529 Plan?

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan that can make it easier to save money for college. You can check out the Securities and Exchange Commission for more details, but here are the basic facts:

  • There are two kinds of plans. 529s are either college savings plans, which can be used for college expenses at any college, or prepaid tuition plans, which lock in future tuition at in-state public colleges at the present price. Talk to a financial professional to find out which is best for you.
  • Your parents will call the shots. You’ll be the beneficiary of the plan, but your parents or guardians will be the ones to decide when withdrawals can be made.
  • The earnings won’t be taxed. This is one of the biggest perks of a 529 plan — it isn’t taxed as long as any withdrawals are made for college expenses. If the money is used for something other than college, like on a new car, tax penalties could apply. Make sure you read the fine print and know the details of your plan.
  • You can get a plan in any state. 529 plans vary by state, but you aren’t stuck with the plan from the state where you currently live. If you like another state’s plan, you can get that one instead.
  • Anyone can contribute. Make sure you tell other important adults in your life —grandparents, aunts, uncles and the like — about your 529. Next time they’re wondering what to get you for your birthday or graduation, they can make a contribution.

How can I apply for scholarships and financial aid?

  • Fill out a FAFSA. The Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA, should be the first step in your financial aid journey. You can either get an application from your guidance counselor or download it online — just don’t wait until the last minute. The earlier you can fill out the application, the sooner you’ll know what type and amount of aid you can expect.
  • Consider your qualifications. There are thousands of scholarships out there — it’s just a matter of finding the right ones for you. First, see what local scholarships are available in your area, and from your potential college choices. Second, check for scholarships based on your individual strengths, credentials, talents and accomplishments.
  • Military scholarships. Having a parent or guardian who is a service member may qualify you for certain scholarships. Talk to them, or contact your installation education center for more information.

What do I need to know about student loans?

After you’ve exhausted all financial aid or scholarship options and saved as much money as you can, it may be time to look into student loans. Consider these factors before accepting student loans:

  • Remember, you have to pay them back. Loans are not “free money” and you can end up paying back much more than you originally take out, depending on the interest rate.
  • Pay attention to the terms. Make sure you understand the terms of any loans you accept. In addition to the interest rate, you should also pay attention to the repayment schedule and find out about the “grace period,” or how soon you have to pay it back after graduation.
  • Go for federal loans first. You can apply for loans through the government or private institutions, but federal loans tend to have lower interest rates and a more generous grace period.
  • Check for military-offered loans. Talk to your parents and research whether you’re eligible for any interest-free loans through the military. You can also read about the various scholarships, grants and loans for military students.

Where should I start?

  • Talk to your guidance counselor. Take advantage of your counselor’s wealth of experience and make an appointment to discuss your individual options.
  • Sit down with your parents or guardians. If you haven’t already, find time to sit down and talk candidly about your plans and your family’s financial situation. You’ll need to know all of your options before you begin formulating a college savings plan. Getting everything down on paper can help keep everyone on the same page.
  • Connect with a no-cost personal financial counselor. A financial counselor can give your family more information on your options. Learn more about how to arrange for no-cost financial counseling through Military OneSource.
  • Contact the education consultants at Military OneSource for help with college admissions and financial aid applications.
  • Do your research. Lots of schools and organizations put their scholarship opportunities online, so a preliminary internet search is a great way to get your feet wet and see what’s out there.

There are many ways to finance your college education; it’s just a matter of seeking out the options that work best for you. Military OneSource has your back to connect you with the best support for the next step in your education — and before you know it, you’ll be walking across the graduation stage with a diploma in your hand.

Travel Planning – The Essentials

Plane taking off on runway

You joined the armed forces because you love an adventure, but getting from point A to point B doesn’t happen automatically. Military OneSource is here to point you to resources that can assist you with your travel planning and help you make the most of your excursions, whether you book a cruise in the Caribbean or venture a few miles outside of your neighborhood.

Get started with these ideas:

Consider Space-A travel.

Service members and their families can use Space-Available flights to travel. Though sometimes unpredictable, military flights are perfect for families with flexible plans and limited travel budgets. You can sign up for a Space-A flight through a military terminal up to 60 days in advance.

Note: Effective March 21, 2020, Air Mobility Command temporarily suspended most Space-A travel due to COVID-19.

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Take advantage of TSA Precheck®

Service members and their families can take advantage of TSA Precheck to expedite waiting time at the airport when flying commercial. Simply use your Department of Defense ID as your known traveler number. You’ll bypass long security lines without removing your shoes or jacket or having to take your laptop out of your bag.

Relevant Article:

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Get military discounts through American Forces Travel.

Eligible members of the military community can use American Forces Travel to book leisure travel online. The one-stop travel booking site is a joint service initiative that offers discounts on airfare, rental cars, flights, cruises and more. You can use the website to book your next trip, while helping to fund other current and future morale, welfare and recreation programs.

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Save money with a staycation.

A staycation is a vacation where you discover your local area while avoiding the time, hassle and expense of travel. Consider these benefits: sleeping in your own bed, not needing to pack and spending your money on fun activities in your own community. Your MWR program can help you find the best local activities.

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Travel benefits for college students.

Military family members enrolled in colleges away from an active-duty parent’s OCONUS duty station are eligible for travel benefits. The government will pay for one round trip each fiscal year for college students if they meet certain requirements. This travel benefit must be authorized through the service member’s command and be completed through the military travel office.

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