Parent-to-Parent offers deployment support to families
November 21, 2008
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii - A small group of parents gathered in the cafeteria of Wheeler Elementary School, Nov. 5, to obtain information and tips on staying involved with children during deployment.
"We help parents overcome the challenges of communication," said Louise Webb, Parent-to-Parent Support.
Parents sat around lunch tables and talked casually.
"Deployments are hard and being a parent is tough," said Pam Anderson, Parent-to-Parent Support. "Top that with the lifestyle of the Army and it can create struggles."
Parent-to-Parent Support, in conjunction with the Military Child Education Coalition, offers numerous workshops and tips regarding the array of issues faced by military families.
Anderson explained the three keys to success and preparing children for a deployment were involvement, planning and communication.
"Anything you can do to keep your family united will help with your children," said Karmin Soloman, Parent-to-Parent Support.
Soloman then offered ideas, including making plans that span the entire length of deployment, setting goals with children, leaving photographs of the deployed parent in an area children can access anytime, and remaining involved in children's education while overseas.
"We want to bridge the gap between a deployed parent and a child's education," said Soloman. "Our overall objective is to encourage parents to be their child's best education advocate."
Soloman explained research had shown that students of involved parents earn higher grades, higher test scores, have better social skills, and regular classroom attendance.
Soloman urged parents to communicate with school administrators and teachers and let them know about the deployment, and to talk candidly with children, sparing them no details about an upcoming deployment.
Parents in the audience shared ideas from personal experiences and spoke of many ways to communicate with a deployed parent including e-mail, frequent phone conversations and writing letters.
"Letter writing can be very personal and something both parties can carry with them," said Anderson. "And what a wonderful thing to look back on."
Soloman spoke of ways to prepare during predeployment, deployment and reunion. She offered helpful hints including aiding with homework via e-mail and planning special events for a parent's return home.
"I'm learning better communication with my children," said Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Townsend, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment. "This has helped me gain ideas and keep me close with them while I'm away."
Townsend is currently back in Iraq after rest and recuperation leave. He and his children each wear a watch on their left wrist and when the daily alarm goes off simultaneously, for a brief moment they are together again.