As much as we will the calendar not to flip, it’ll soon be September and back-to-school season for many military families across Prince Edward Island. Parents are checking items off their children’s school supply lists, teachers are dusting off lesson plans and getting their classrooms set to welcome another group of students, and guidance cousellors are preparing to assist students with a whole realm of areas to facilitate a positive learning environment.
Recently, a new resource was published to assist counsellors working in the school system, specifically pertaining to challenges military and Veteran families face. A partnership between the Vanier Institute of the Family, Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA), Veterans Affairs Canada, Military Family Services, and other key members of the Canadian Military and Veteran Families Leadership Circle, the guide, entitled School Counsellors: Working with Military and Veteran Families, is “designed to increase military literacy in schools to foster inclusion, provide support, and optimize services for children and youth growing up in military and veteran families.”
This bilingual guide helps counsellors become more aware of the unique experiences military and Veteran families may face including periods of separation, relocations and/or family mobility, and the possibility of a family member being at high risk while a serving CAF member.
“Children in military and Veteran families are diverse, resilient, and strong, and they—like their families—demonstrate a high degree of adaptability,” says Vanier Institute CEO Nora Spinks. “Resources such as this can help ensure family health and well-being so that children and youth reach their full potential.”
The guide assists counsellors with the following questions (as taken directly from the Vanier Institute website):
- What is the military and Veteran lifestyle?
- What resources are available to school counsellors to assist them in their work with children and youth of military and Veteran families?
- How can school counsellors promote mental health and advocate for students of military and Veteran families?
- How can school counsellors support classroom teachers in their work with students of military and Veteran families?
Ed MacAulay, PEI MFRC’s Registered Social Worker, applauds this guide. “This is an excellent guide for military and Veteran families here on PEI,” says MacAulay. “Some students will be attending new schools as a result of a posting or school re-zoning. The role of a guidance counsellor becomes more relevant when and if a student has some struggles. This guide can be very helpful, if the guidance counsellor is unfamiliar with the lifestyle issues military and Veteran families. It is a very informative tool for guidance counsellors, parents, and teachers.”
School counsellors (and anyone interested in this information) can download the guide here.