We are not commencing home schooling. The schools have advised they hope to be up and running online learning next week. We will wait for their guidance and expertise – I will not place undue stress or pressure on them or myself this week.
My kids will enjoy the time catching up on some reading, music, working out, golf simulator and playing F1 and FIFA on the xbox, FaceTiming their friends and doing revision as they normally would during school and the long summer vacation here.
They will learn more patience and form stronger bonds with each other.
They will learn new skills in the kitchen.
They will learn and understand all the craziness that the world is facing.
They will form their own educated thoughts on how we and the world will continue to be affected and how we may move forward.
They will grow in their own compassion and understanding for people and their own situations. They have seen the empty grocery stores, the elderly and vulnerable not being able to buy items due to the selfish nature we have become.
As I have spoken about previously, we are currently enjoying our third posting to the US. This has had consequences and benefits regarding our kids schooling. As an Australia family our school year follows the calendar – school begins at the end of January and finishes mid-December. The school year is broken into 4 Terms with holidays in April, June/July, Sept/Oct and then 6 weeks from Mid-December until the end of January.
Our eldest started kindergarten in Hawaii during our first posting o/s and then on our return, she completed Grade 4, 5 and part of 6. Our middle one, completed Grade 2, 3 and part of 4 whilst our son started kindergarten.
This time around we had to make a compromise with our eldest regarding high school and her ability to graduate back in Australia with the required credits to enable her to chase her dreams following school. This meant instead of going forward she had to repeat the final few months of Grade 9 (she had already completed in Australia prior to our arrival) – this means she will be graduating a year later than her peers. This girls is amazing though – she listened to the advice we had received from one of her highly regarded teachers from Darwin, two work colleagues of mine (Principal & Teacher) and also a teacher friend of ours, the decision was met with a high about of trepidation and at times anger but once the decision was made, she ran with it.
Our other two were simple. The middle one went forward into Grade 8 and the youngest returned to redo the final few months of Grade 4 – this kept them with their peers, and will all line up for our return home.
Schooling in the US is completely different than schooling in Australia for many reasons:-
Elementary, Middle School and High School
Elementary and Middle Schools are located on the large Military bases and the standard of school in most areas is of a higher standard than off post. At some locations there are more than one Elementary school and placement will be allocated related to on post housing location and if living off post you will also be assigned a specific school. High Schools are located off post and will be a mixture of surrounding local feeder schools and those coming from off post. In some locations, Elementary school finishes in Grade 5 and there is a purpose built Grade 6 centre where all Grade 5 students will feed into for the school year.
School generally commences mid-August and finishes the end of May. This of course is location based and some schools do not commence until mid-late September. Other important things to note particularly about on post school is they regularly have early release or late start days to enable staff development. School also tends to start earlier 0740-0800 will a finish time of 1500-1515).
Everything is graded! Classwork, homework, participation and assignments. The class grade and GPA for High School changes daily and the system is generally A+ to F to U. Whilst this is great in enabling the student and parents to see their progress, any missing work etc it is also reliant on the teaching staff imputing the correct information and correcting along the way. Teachers have enough to do daily.
One of the great benefits of schooling in the US is the vast array of available subjects for Middle and High School students to study. Many of these are not available in Australia and provide a different opportunity for learning something new and possible specific to career goals. Many are study for either a semester or a full year.
There is also many options that as Aussies we find a little odd……Math is one. Math is integrated for Elementary and early Middle School however from Grade 8 is taught as a broken down subject. You either do Algebra I, Algebra II or Geometry. This is something I have particular issue with and would have preferred that Math continued to be integrated until Grade 11 and 12 (Junior and Senior year) – continuance of building on Math skills.
Math for us was a particular sticky situation and it took a lot of patience and some shuffling for all of our kids. The transition from not only metric to imperial but for the older girls what they had learnt in Australia under an integrated Math subject didn’t line up with the required Math options here. Thankfully we were able to ‘shuffle’ and have them placed in a Math option that enabled them to begin the whole subject and not play catch up completely.
The science subjects are also integrated for Elementary and early Middle School before a break into more specific science areas – Biology, Honours Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Other great options are JROTC and Debate which also compete locally, district, State and National also. Both are amazing programs with great opportunities and possibilities.
High School Graduation
Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia all have a have minimum high school graduation requirement while Colorado, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania leave high school graduation requirements up to local districts. Each student is required to complete a certain about of subject semesters with credits to graduate high school. The best place for advice is the School Guidance office as it is quite a confusing process.
Big topic…..lunches in the US school system is something that as Aussie it is completely unfamiliar, frustrating and laughable at times. Lunch times of course vary for each school across all levels and is held in the school cafeteria. Students have the option of taking a home lunch or purchasing from the cafeteria. The food is interesting to say the least, however it is a cheap option and the novelty at first may be exciting for the students. You may find this wears off fairly quickly and lunch boxes will again need to be purchased and packed. Some Middle Schools and High Schools have menu options including salad bars which can make it a lot more palatable.
Eating times are generally very early too with no recess in between school starting and lunch – our kids come home famished every day.
One of the biggest differences our Aussie kids struggle with is the lack of outside time, particularly where we are currently. Due to lunches being eaten inside and either no or very short recess (play no food) time the kids really miss the ability and freedom to run around, kick a footy or even just walk and talk. We have been fortunate that the two schools in the US the kids have been enrolled at outside time was planned daily. For us Aussies outside time is planned in the school day, we eat our lunches outside, we do recess which involves a snack and play time. One of the greatest examples of the importance of outside time was our primary school in Sydney when Miss C was in Grade 4 – their teacher Mr T took the whole class every morning outside where they walked laps around the oval for about 15 minutes, this let the kids stretch their legs and get some jiggles out before class but it also gave them a last minute chance to get all their chatting out – it worked great.
Sport is massive in Middle and High School – think every tv show that you may have ever seen that involved high school sport in the US (One Tree Hill, Friday Night Lights, Greece). The try outs, the training, the home and away games, the playoffs, homecoming, concession stands, band, cheerleaders, JROTC, the mums with the kids face printed on their t-shirt, the banners, the tailgates – it’s all there. Sport options are amazing (not all offered at each school):-
Cheerleading / Competitive Spirit Squads
Flag Football (Girls)
Indoor Track & Field
Skiing & Snowboarding
Slow Pitch Softball (Girls)
Swimming & Diving
Track & Field
Thankfully we are a sport loving family and wish that sport was more incorporated into the Elementary schools too, particularly for grade 5 and 6). Our middle one has been training and playing sport like crazy this past year (Volleyball and Basketball) and both girls have just commenced Football (soccer).
The training schedules have been insane and will continue that way for Football, everyday day 1630-1900 and will include home and away games, fundraising events and team dinners for the next three months. The facilities are amazing with schools having incredible stadiums, courts, full gyms, locker rooms and access to a physiotherapist also.
Vaccination Schedules and Enrolments
Each school district and State has their own enrolment requirements and vaccination schedules to be followed. At times this can be particularly frustrating due to Australia having a great vaccination program. If you are not fully vaccinated by their schedule, enrolment may be declined and if the child has commenced school may be unable to return to school until fully vaccinated per their schedule. I had many heated discussions with our Elementary school nurse concerning Australia’s vaccination schedule and the implications that our son received a vaccination two months earlier than the State of Kansas stipulated. It was all sorted, he received another jab and we got on with it. If you are posting away from Australia, I strongly suggest you research the vaccination schedule and policy for the state where you will be located – they do vary greatly.
There are many differences between schooling in Austalia and the US, the biggest issues for our family has been math and the lack of outdoor time and eating times. With our girls doing sport, they leave the house at 0700 for school and are not returning home until close to 1930. They pack protein shakes and a snack to have before training but they are super hungry when they walk in the door as they have eaten lunch just after 1100. For our boy, he too is super hungry but he is home for a quick snack around 1530 before heading to golf.
I have spoken to many parents and teachers about the lack of outdoor time that we currently experience. Some is due to the extreme cold weather but the kids rug up and could enjoy at least a quick run around, other reasons are due to timings. All kids need to have a break, they all need to run and to be given a chance to reset their brains and bodies to ensure they are given every possibility to retain information and perform at their best.
There is a mountain of research showing the importance of food breaks and also the order in which works best. At our previous school in Darwin we were fortunate to have amazing administrators who saw a need to change and were proactive in finding good research and solutions to ensure the students were given these options. All students were able to enjoy a ‘brain break’ of fruit or veg snack at approx. 0930, recess followed about 1030 where the students were let out to play before toilet break/handwashing and eating time. Lunch followed the same routine, play time, toilet break/handwashing and eating time. The change was remarkable. The students enjoyed the chance to catch up with the friends, play soccer, tag, before happily sitting down to eat. Students then returned to the classroom settled and ready to learn again. I wish this system was in place here too.
Overseas posting offer families a lifetime of memories and experiences that we may not in Australia. If you are in line for an overseas posting, especially with school aged children do your research and jump in. The benefits far outweigh any negatives.
Thank you for reading my little snapshot in to schooling in the US on posting from Australia. As always, thank you for following the journey:)
As a Military Spouse, we get to experience so many levels of emotion and change. For me, the past 22 years have been challenging and amazing. We have said many ‘see you soon’s to our Soldier and to those around us. We have meet and made so many wonderful friends across the globe, shared wonderful times and of course said many goodbyes.
I am proud of they way I have been able to conduct myself and have never been caught up in the battle of spouses and spouses ranks. I have, however been on the other side where my husband’s rank has been significant for other spouses. There have been times when I have been introduced as Mrs Mulligan, the wife of insert rank Mulligan and have had spouses not engage in a conversation either because my husband was an Officer or a lower/higher rank than their spouse – I admire people for being themselves and for the way they conduct themselves as people not because of who they are married too (regardless of military or civilian)
Below you will find some amazing words of wisdom and guidance from spouses I have been fortunate enough to be on this crazy journey with.
Always choice kindness. Surround yourself with positive people, especially during a deployment and avoid drama as much as necessary.
Don’t wear your spouses rank, be approachable because we were all that junior wife at some stage and we were all intimidated by the more “seasoned” wives.
Your spouse is the rank wearer. Never confuse that with your role. I am not in the military therefore I am a spouse…not a LTC.
Always provide an inclusive environment. Everybody wants to be a part of something and to feel welcome. Remember we were all newbies at one stage and in fact everytime we pcs / post to a new location we are that person again.
Share your experience and guidance but do so in a kind and non patronising manner. Whilst we are all going through the same things (deployments, field exercises, long absenses, courses) we all manage differently and by sharing your experience you may just help somebody else.
Get involved in your surroundings, the Unit, the Squadron, the Battalion. This does not mean you have to immerse yourself in everything military, but knowing who to contact in an emergency, where you can gain support and meet people.
Attend family functions, parades.
Try to get involved in something you enjoy whether it’s a job, volunteering, taking classes, getting together for a play group with others mums, etc. the more you reach out and form positive relationships with others the better your experience will be.
Get involved quickly – you meet the most amazing people that way. Focus on the amazing things the military brings – great opportunities, new people and new places – and amazingly resilient children.
Remember that we are all in this together and that we need to support each other not judge each other. Surround yourself with like minded people.
Support each other, support the Unit, the Squadron, the Battalion and Family Support Groups, Defence Community Organisations.
Look for opportunities to help others out, especially if you are feeling down or isolated. It will bless you as much as those you are helping and if you ever have a need you won’t feel so bad about asking for help.
Find a good friend who enjoys a wine (& a whine!) and you’ll be fine!!
Stay true to yourself
If you have something you enjoy doing keep doing it, if hubby is home still do what you enjoy (it is only going to be be a few hours).
If faith is important to you I would encourage you to grow deeper in this area. The knowledge that there is a grand plan and they are never truly alone even though sometimes it feels like it is extremely comforting.
Is what keeps an army marriage healthy, find the time after both having busy days to talk, this way there is no second guessing, you both know how each other are at that time and what is happening in the family.
Always get a rough calendar from your spouse (if possible) of events, field excerises etc so you can plan yours and kids lives whilst he or she isn’t there.
Try not to get stressed about things you have no control over.
Understand that while your spouse wants to spend more time with you and the family his job is such that the mission comes first and it is inevitable that he/she will miss birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays… it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.
Posting / Duty Stations
Make the most of the places you are posted to.
Every job and duty station in the military is temporary but at the end of the day family is the most important so nurture those relationships even if it means sometimes making sacrifices.
You will almost always be stationed away from family so do not be afraid to create family from those around you.
Don’t compare the places you live to one another. Just go to the next PCS, plug in and hunt the good stuff!!
Gossip and Private Situations
Speak positively about your spouse and your children to others and work through challenges between the two of you or with the help of a professional instead of “airing dirty laundry” to anyone willing to listen.
Spouse gossip doesn’t just hurt the spouses in the rear, it makes things harder for the troops on the front line as well (from a US Commander).
To me, being a Military Spouse is an amazing honour. One that I am proud to be. To my battle buddies across the globe, Thank You! Thank you for the sacrifices that you make each day, thank you for the support you have given me, thank you for the laughs, tears and wine we have shared.
Thank you for your wisdom in the words above, for guiding me and mostly thank you for being you!
This week I admit has been a little tough mentally! The weather is grey and so is my mind. I’m not sad or concerned, I’m just caught in a funk due to the weather.
Yes, I am a warm weather, sun loving girl! The snow is beautiful when it’s falling and and I am sure if we were on a specific snow holiday it would be amazing. Living in it is completely different, the melting snow, the slush is not so beautiful.
My whole family has cabin fever, cabin fever for the golf course, the sun, the vitamin D and for being outdoors – yes there is plenty that we could still do outside but we are warm blooded soles.
The weather affects me mentally, it makes my mind feel as clouded as the sky and only the sun shining warmly will fix it. Whilst I am in this funk, I have however managed to keep my body active thanks to the treadmill and spin bike. I have been sticking to my goals made earlier in the year and have been enjoying (up until this week) walking outside most days with some great ladies.
To help with this fog, I have ejoyed some reading on SCAD in the news, looked at holiday plans and binged watched some tv…….how do you clear your mind fog?
As we welcome a New Year we often set ourselves resolutions that we rarely stick to for more than a few weeks or months. I too have been guilty of setting myself unrealistic or unattainable resolutions.
This year I have set GOALS and not RESOLUTIONS and to understand why we first need to look at the definition of both and from there we will understand why this is the perfect way to ring in the new year.
Cambridge defines a resolution as apromise to yourself to do something: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/resolution.
By setting ourselves goals and not resolutions we are giving ourselves something to work towards, an attainable achievement. A goal can be achieved by working towards smaller goals, smaller achievements along the way – a place were small progress is made and seen. Once we start setting ourselves resolutions, we are promising ourselves to do something, this in itself is often unattainable as we set ourselves one major promise without being able to celebrate each and every small step along the way.
Resolutions around the world are predominantly centred around weight loss, fitness, healthy eating and saving money – all with one set number or achievement in mind. Whether you are wanting to loose 5kg or 50kg, save $1000 or $40000, run 1km or 42km setting smaller goals will help make this achievable and you will be able to celebrate the smaller victories along the way – helping to keep you focused and on the way to complete your journey.
Now to me, no resolutions only goals. The goals I have set this year are also along the same line – fitness, weight loss, healthy eating and saving money. These goals are not extreme, I am not looking at running a marathon, loosing 50kg or saving vast amounts of money. What I have set are the following and the reason for these is also set out.
1. Walk Outside – this might sound crazy but since my SCAD & heart attack in April I have not been for a walk outside by myself other than to do the groceries. I have been walking on the treadmill in our basement. I want to get back to being comfortable to walk a few km outside in the fresh air. (quick update – my mum had been visiting during Christmas from Australia and we were also dog sitting – we walked everyday and I am excited to share that on the 1st of January I went for my first 2km walk with just myself, the dog and fresh air. It was amazing and has meant I accomplised for first goal of 2020, I have also been everyday since).
2. Swim – as my SCAD and heart attack symptoms began in the swimming pool after I had been swimming medley every four minutes with a minute rest in between I have been frightened to return to the pool. My goal this year is to jump back in (new swimmers purchased as the ones I was wearing were cut from me during the emergency). Swimming will again be different than before – no butterfly and not backstroke, simple freestyle and breaststroke.
3. Fitness – continue rebuilding following my SCAD & Heart Attack in April. Cross fit will never again be apart of my plan but walking, swimming, biking and golf are all attainable. With my golf, I aim to being more consistant and to get a handicap.
4. Weight – my heart medication has played a big part in my weight gain after initially loosing 10kg from the heart attack and recovery. Whilst I am still on the medication (8 tablets a day) I hope that will more regularly moving I can shift a little weight. Small increments but my heart health is the most important.
5. Medication – I see my Cardiologist in March and hope that some of my medication can be futher reduced. He is my person and I trust his medical advice.
5. Money – Team Mulligan have some big plans for when we return to Australia this year. We have set ourselves several money goals this year and if we stick to our budget, all with be attainable and we will be travelling in comfort next year.
I look forward to reaching my little goals along the way, celebrating the best of me and enjoying the challenges that the journey presents along the way.
I wish you the very best for your goal setting in 2020. Go ahead, be brave, be consistant and follow the journey.
As a Military / Defence Family we quiet often celebrate Christmas away from our blood families, however, this does not mean we don’t celebrate or celebrate with ‘family’. Australia’s posting cycle is a major factor in Christmas plans – we usually get to spend one Christmas in our home in the posting location we are at as we are usually packing up a house and moving our life to somewhere new. December is the peak posting (PCS) cycle for us, it’s hot, the school year has finished and summer holidays have started.
One of the many joys of being a military family is getting to meet and form close relationships with other families all in the same boat – away from their own families.
This year we are lucky to have my mum visiting from Australia and although we were hoping she would have a white Christmas, it doesn’t seem likely (we had a big dumping of snow prior to her arrival). Whilst this takes our family count to 6, we will have a house full and a table set for 21!
We are excited to be welcoming other Military families into our home for Christmas who are also international and have no family here. The table will be set filling both the dining room and living room with 6 people from Australia, 4 from New Zealand, 3 from America, 4 from Spain and 4 from Brazil. Lunch will be a multicultral experience with roast lamb, roast vegetables, turkey, glazed ham, potato bake, cheesy brocoli, corn, peas, trifle, pavlova, Spanish wine and desserts also from Brazil and Spain.
The chatter filling the house will be vast and a learning experience for us all. The Spanish and Brazilian families working on their English and the rest of us excited to learn about other cultural experiences and Christmas traditions. Our eldest and the children from Spain and the eldest from Brazil know each other well and spend quiet a lot of time together both in and out of school, this will be a great memory for them to share.
Today, we had our Christmas photo taken with Santa while at Bass Pro. This year like some previous are shared with other special people joining in our photo. Today was Matilda, friends of ours from the UK who are also here on Exchange. Matilda is great friends with our daughter and she came along to spend the day. She is in the front row of our photo and we love that she joined in – more memories to share and treasure.
Christmas as a Military / Defence family may seem at times quiet and separated from the usual experience that families have at this time of year – we have shared many Christmas’s in motels, once at West Point Acadamy asking the Night Manager to write a note for the kids explaining they need to find their presents under a motel Christmas tree (they searched under 3 trees) and Christmas’ with family and friends.
From our family to yours, no matter what you believe or where you are – have a very Merry Christmas a happy & safe holiday.
Christmas can also be a lonely period for the Military / Defence Family with members on deployment, recalled from leave and those who we have lost. Consequently, spare a thought, say a prayer, open your home to other families and create new memories.
As a mum of three, my children change every day. Children from all walks of life have challenges, morals and lifestyles that are different. My focus today is on Military Kids and I certainly appreciate that their challenges are far from challenges other children around the world.
Military kids are known for their Resilience. The lifestyle that they are born into is one of constant change. For this reason they are usually very adaptable. Adaptable to change, surroundings, people and situations. Their resilience is to be commended, embraced and nurtured.
Military kids are generally kind, thoughtful and very aware of their surroundings and of others. They have said goodbye to more people by the time they are 18 than most people do in a lifetime. This helps make them understanding and open.
Military kids are strong. They are strong at times that matter however, this does not make them immune to emotion. These kids are aware of the difficulties faced by others and their own families. They generally are happy to jump right in to help others and stand up for what they believe is right.
Military kids can be fiercely independent. They come from homes that are regularly in upheaval, with the serving member away or in a high tempo area. They are taught from a very early age the importance of independence, they still need help but are very capable of handling situations that other children may not.
Military kids are proud! Not all show this openenly, often they are unsure what the response will be for others – don’t dampen their spirit. Let them and encourage them to be proud of their Military family.
Military kids have a great sense of humour – let them laugh.
Military kids are supportive to other military kids. They give each other strength and an amazing support system. Sometimes without words they bring comfort to others.
Military kids generally have a more worldly view on life. They are open and aware of different cultures and diversity – this is a great thing.
Military kids are unique, brave and incredible souls.
We are all told, “live your life to the fullest”; I am here to do just that. Life With The Webbers lets you in on all the struggles and joys of life being a Defence Family, the ups and downs of being a Spouse to a Soldier and the joys and hardships of being a Mother that often has to do everything while Dad is away working. So, sit back, relax, and read on.