Back to School Resources for Military Families

August 11, 2021

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Discounts and resources can help offset the costs of back-to-school supplies, clothing, and other supplies your children might need for a successful school year. But pricescan add up, making this a financially challenging time for many military families.

Here’s a resource list of retailers who offer military discounts and information on military service organizations that can help with everything from tutoring to dealing with the psychological weight of being a military child. 

Supplies

Operation Homefront collects supplies for military children as part of their Back-to-School Brigade. Then volunteers distribute these supplies at events across the country. Visit the Operation Homefront page for more information. 

Tech Discounts

Apple and Dell offer a 10% military discount that might help offset some of the costs associated with purchasing new technology during the back-to-school season. You’ll need to verify your military status through ID.me to qualify for the discount. 

Military families also qualify for 10% off at the Microsoft Store on select products. Verification is required. 

Educational Support

Tutor.com is entirely free for military families. This program is funded by the Department of Defense and provides on-demand homework and tutoring help at no cost. 

Udemy.com Military families can receive 30% off at Udemy, where you can choose from over 155,000 online video courses. 

The Morale, Welfare, and Recreation digital library offers plenty of educational resources for milkids of all ages. Programs include Mango Languages, BookFlix, Explora Primary, and more. Free printable activities through The Teachables program are available for children pre-K through sixth grade. MWR was designed with your family in mind. Learn more about the benefits of utilizing this service here

Operation Hero

Children between ages 6-12 bear a lot of the stress of military life. Working through all of their emotions and the situations they face can cause their academics to slip. Operation Hero aims to help this group of kiddos get back on the right academic path! The Armed Services YMCA facilitates this program and offers a safe space for military kids to get together.

Clothing and accessories

Overstock.com offers a free Club O membership to military families. Perks include free shipping, 5% reward dollars, and early access to special discounts. 

Free clothes and shoes are available from the Assistance League. The Assistance League is a national program with 120 chapters. Each chapter works to serve their local community, which in some locations includes military bases. They provide two outfits, a jacket, socks, underwear, and a hygiene bag to every child at back-to-school time. They also include a gift card for new school shoes.

Other Resources

Thrive is a free online parenting education program established through a Department of Defense partnership with Clearinghouse. It offers evidence-based positive parenting practices for children from birth through age 18. Free downloadable resources are available to all military families. 

The Military Children Education Coalition (MCEC) is a national organization committed to ensuring military students have inclusive and quality educational opportunities, especially those military kids impacted by mobility, deployments, and transitions like a permanent change of station (PCS) moves. MCEC supports all military-connected children by educating, advocating, and collaborating to resolve educational challenges 

This is a small sampling of programs MCEC offers. View the Programs, Training, and Initiatives page for more information. 

Student 2 Student: provides support to military-connected and civilian students via student-led, peer-to-peer mentoring programs at the K-12 levels. 

Parent to Parent: provides support to parents of milkids via community workshops focused on practical ideas, proven techniques, and resources that support military families. 

The Call for the Arts: encourages military children from every service and of all ages to send in drawings, poems, and interpretations of what it means to be a military child. The artwork is then featured at the MCEC Annual Conference and in the On the Move magazine, annual calendar, and additional MCEC publications.

Digital Videos, Webinars & Downloads: from videos on changing schools and keys to success in school to checklists for school moves and more, plenty of digital resources are at your fingertips. 

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.

Since 2009, Blue Star Books (BSB) has focused on ensuring military kids have access to the reading materials they need to grow personally and intellectually. Since its start, BSB has given thousands of books to military children.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America My Future currently offers 11 programs youths can participate in via the MyFuture virtual social platform. These programs support engagement and academic success and include Digital Literacy Essentials, Media Making, Computer Science, Visual Arts, and more.

START - Serving, Thriving, and Reading Together: Together with your military child aged 6-12, visit your local public library to participate in six weekly storytelling, reading, and discussion sessions to develop comprehension skills and learn how to discuss reading materials.

Looking for a way to offset the cost of sports, arts, tutoring, or other camps this school year? Check out Our Military Kids, which provides grants to military kids when a parent is deployed or recovering from a service-related injury. 

School Liaison Program / School Liaison Officers

The School Liaison Program (SLP) is committed to ensuring transitions for military students are as easy and stress-free as possible. The SLP works tirelessly to develop and strengthen connections with families, schools, and commanders to support all military students. 

It’s no secret that transitions in military life can be tough - especially for milkids who are facing down another school year at another new school. Fortunately, School Liaison Officers (SLO) can help make the transition a little smoother. 

What is a SLO?

A SLO is sometimes called a School Liaison or a School Support Staff. This is the point of contact on an installation for all things relating to your milkid’s school. SLOs are on hand to assist you and your family in whatever you might need to settle into your new school.

SLOs are civilians contracted through each branch of service to provide school support services. SLOs are intimately familiar with military life and how constant Permanent Change of Stations (PCSs) can impact a milkid’s education. These officers help build partnerships between schools, installations, and military families and help families during the summer PCS season. 

Depending on the branch of service, your SLO might be called a Family Resource Specialist or a Point of Contact. The day-to-day responsibilities of a SLO might also vary depending on the branch of service and on the installation. Most SLOs do not play a role in Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). 

What does a SLO do? 

The primary role of a SLO is to provide information and resources for military families. They act as support during deployments and provide school transition assistance. SLOs can also help you communicate with past and future schools about educational concerns or issues that directly impact your family. 

SLOs cultivate relationships with many close-to-base public schools and have knowledge about private schools. They can help with meetings or smooth over rough spots.

Most often, SLOs help support families with issues covered by the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children (MIC3). MIC3 covers issues relating to credit transfers, placement, and graduation. 

To find out more about SLOs and their role in your child’s education, visit this Department of Defense Education page

Whether your milkid is heading back to the same school as last year or if you and your family have just PCS’d and are looking for ways to make the school year less stressful, these resources can help ease the transition back to school. 

If you are concerned about the challenges your milkid might face this year, there are resources available to help. Military OneSource provides military families with free, confidential one-on-one sessions with professionals familiar with educational resources. Consultants are available 24/7 anywhere in the world. Call 800-342-9647 or start a live chat here

Related: Looking for more ways to make this back-to-school season as smooth as possible? Check out our tips for military families.

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