Keeping Families in Mind

Support for military families in South Yorkshire

People believe that Military children have an amazing life (which they do), they  travel around the world going to many places and seeing many things and developing life skills, however parts of their lives that you don’t see is the impact of moving school.  It is very difficult each time that they move, they have to start a new school and make new friends and learn the new curriculum leaving their old friends and teachers that have they have built friendships on and learnt to trust.

I've been a forces wife for over 22 years (now a Veterans wife)  and have three amazing children who have been moved from schools to schools. My eldest child has attended 14 different school. Having to make new friends learn new teachers’ names, having to put trust into yet another adult also adding a new school uniform to their collection.

 It is heart breaking each time that you must leave your children at the school playgrounds knowing that they know nobody, and they feel all alone, as you yourself feel alone, having moved to a new areas, having to make friends, gain employment. Not only that you feel you need to make friends quickly, so you have an emergency contact for your children.

Service children are allegedly guaranteed a place in their local school each time that they move. This hasn't always been the case. In many moves we have had to fight to gain our children a place into a school to allow them to continue within their education which isn’t always the same education they have previously received, they either had to catch up as they have missed parts of their curriculum ( which is added stress on them) or they are a head and previously covered serval topics before ( they are bored and not stimulated in school) , it is has been many weeks and on one occasion months that they haven't been to school due to the fact of the schools being overcrowded and not being able to be accepted. This is of no fault of ours or their own that our children are left without education until there is a space available which,  sometimes can be a drive away where they cannot socialise with their school friends. I remember my oldest child having to have an hour’s bus journey each way to attend the nearest secondary school. When meant he was leaving the house before his siblings and getting home much later, but he never complained!

I have seen on personal experience the impact mentally that it has on children to move from school to school where they hate being in school, they feel so alone, they don't know who to turn to. Two of my children tried escaping from school daily for months as that they hated it some much, not so much the school, but the situation of having to start again. They were scared they just wanted to be with me, their stable figure throughout their young lives, to feel safe. As a parent this is utterly heart breaking to watch the upset and the hurt in your children's eyes and they ask you why they had to moved and leave all their friends behind, you tell them that the Army needs their dad somewhere else to help other.

This is one of the most difficult and toughest part of my military life, having to explain to your children we have to move over again!, feeling that wave of panic wash over you as you know that as a mother you are primarily responsible to settle your children into their new surroundings to reassure them that all will be ok, that they are amazing ( Service children really are Amazing!)  as most of the time your husband starts his new role or away on tour. The dread, anger, upset, sadness, self-hate you feel, as you know that you have to be the one to school with a smile on your face, trying to tell them that all will be ok, they will make new friends, while deep inside you know what each move will bring hoping that each time will be different.

Don’t get me wrong, not all Military schooling experiences are like mine and Military children adapt really well (they have to) to new changes. However, you are not a bad parent for moving your child, you are doing what you feel is best for them at the time.

We do not give service children enough credit, recognise the difficulties that they mentally and physically have to go through, we look at them and think, they are children what have they got to worry about. This is wrong to think, children carry a lot of emotions, they are moved without being asked, one of their parents is away lot (sometimes both) they also pick up on other people’s emotions and carry this too. They are absolutely amazing they are so kind, understanding, thoughtful empathetic children and I beam with pride.

When I ask my children now about their childhood, they have loved it, they always say they don’t come from somewhere they come from everywhere.  They have met new friends some of them they call family ( you always have military family) however, they just wished they didn’t have to move schools, there are schools that they have loved and schools that they have hated and couldn’t wait to leave.

Jessica Pearce tremendously proud mother and Veteran’s wife