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Being a Military Child

This week, my first graders said goodbye to a classmate who moved away. For these children, moving in and out of communities is part of their lives as they are children of military families. They know how it feels to be new, and they know what it means to start over. When a child leaves, they discuss that they will move soon too.

“I’m leaving for Japan.”

“My family moves to Florida next.”

“I’m going to Texas.”

“I’ll move when I am in third grade.”

Moving is one job of a military child. They know that they will move where their family must go, and that they must adjust to their new surroundings when they arrive.

So now, there is an empty table where this child once sat.

In my early teaching days, I might have moved seats around so that the hole was not so apparent. But now, I won’t. The desk will stay right where it is until a new classmate arrives. Missing this student is where we are as a class.

We sing songs that this friend loved. We tell stories about times we enjoyed together. We read books about moving and talk about the feelings that come with it. We look at pictures to remind us of the friends we miss.

A bulletin board in our classroom.

At the same time, the children and I write notes to the child who is probably missing this student the most. The children invite this classmate to play new games at recess. They even give this student extra turns to read the morning message or to choose a movement break.

Right now, we are staying in this moment and feeling this loss together. This is a feeling that these children understand, and they have beautiful ways to support one another. As their teacher, I am overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness and kindness.

Happy Writing and Happy Month of the Military Child!


15 thoughts on “Being a Military Child”

  1. Your post touched my heart. I grew up as a military child who moved every 3 years and spent years with my dad deployed. How very fortunate these students are to have a teacher who fosters such empathy and support. Thank you for shedding light on the military child.

  2. I love how you’re sitting with the loss and feeling it together. I like how you are honoring the student who left by remembering the stories they loved and giving special attention to someone who misses this student the most. And your bulletin board! How lovely to know when you move that you’ll still be remembered by former classmates. Lucky students to be in your class.

  3. Moving is not always welcomed, especially when you are lucky enough to have an extraordinary teacher for the year. You are just what these students need in their lives right now. Bless you!

  4. Such a loving tribute — this post, the empty chair in your classroom for the child who had to move. It takes courage to be a child, and even more to be a military child. Beautifully done all around.

  5. This post resonates with me strongly. One of my students is leaving at the end of this month because of her dad’s job in the military. It’s extra hard now because we are in distance learning and we can’t even gather for a goodbye in face-to-face. The Google Meet celebration is a pale replacement of a goodbye party in class. I am glad she can have a final date with her best friend.

  6. I love how you are teaching these students that it’s okay and necessary to feel all these emotions, and showing them how to empathize with and care for each other. So good.

  7. The flexibility and love of these children runs deep. They know their job… and love in the missing and so do you. I hope your example is shared all over our country and world. XO

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