Perhaps the single most valuable way for a child care professional to develop a truly effective partnership with a family is to learn what life looks like from their perspective. This is especially true when working with military families, particularly if a child care professional has little or no experience with military life. When we invite military parents to tell us their stories and share their perspectives, they can open our eyes to the impact of military culture and service on the day-to-day experiences of their family. It’s a viewpoint that can radically improve our understanding of the child and of the family as a whole, giving us insight on how best to work with them to provide wise and sensitive care and support for their child.
I have become convinced of this truth through getting to know Rhonda Spearman, a military wife and mom whose Air Force Reserve family has navigated two deployments with two young children. Rhonda graciously shared her family’s experiences during our web conference, “Intentional Connections: Establishing Positive Relationships between Child Care Providers and Military Families.”
From Rhonda, we all learned about the different ways her two boys showed, via their behavior, that their dad’s deployment preparation, separation and return (and mom’s stress) were deeply affecting them emotionally. We also heard Rhonda’s suggestions, born of experience, for child care providers, teachers and administrators who want to support child, homefront parent, and service member through it all.
But, as you might imagine, our one webinar only provided enough insight from Rhonda to whet our appetites and make us want more! Happily, she has agreed to continue sharing what she has learned (and continues to learn) about military family life, young children, and supportive partnerships with educators through a series of blog posts. Each Tuesday, we will be posting a question from a child care professional’s perspective that is related to understanding and supporting military families, followed by Rhonda’s response.
If you haven’t listened to the webinar yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. It’s available here (along with downloadable powerpoint slides and other resources). You will get to know Rhonda and her family and hear the many lessons they are learning about living the military life with two young children. You’ll also gain valuable ideas for supporting the military families that you work with. And you’ll want to hear more from Rhonda in the coming weeks!
Next Tuesday’s Q&A: Why might some military parents be uncomfortable talking to child care professionals?
For more online resources and places to connect with others around the topic of child care for military families, check out our “About Us” page.