A multiple case study : military-dependent children’s social and emotional well-being and its impact on classroom behavior.
The United States’ military is one of the world’s largest active armed forces and currently deploys troops in more than 150 countries around the world. Military-dependent children face difficulties in school settings more often than children who come from nonmilitary families. These difficulties often include classroom misbehavior and social-emotional issues with peers, teachers, and parents due, in part, to constant military deployment, absence of parental support, and Permanent Change of Station. At present, there is restricted access to the military population, and many researchers who are experts in child-development fields have difficulties obtaining access to this unique population. Hence, more research is needed to help understand the military culture, especially military children, in school settings. The purpose of this multiple case study is to examine the central phenomenon of how military-connected children’s social and emotional well-being impact their classroom behavior in elementary schools. The theoretical framework of Social Capital Theory forms the foundation for this study, recognizing the vital link to social capital and successful transitions within military children’s family support and peer relationships. This study includes three active-duty military-dependent children in first through fourth grades and three active-duty military parents who work on a military installation in Camp Humphreys, South Korea. Data collection includes semi-structured interviews, sentence stems, and focus group interviews. This multiple case study findings highlight several emerging themes to shed light on how active-duty military parents prepared for the military relocation and built expectations for military-dependent children to adjust to their new classroom environments at school. The study participants provided insights into the benefits of deep conversations and family activities, as well as trustworthy relationships with teachers helped mitigate the impacts of military events in an effort to impact their social and emotional well-being and classroom behaviors. Through a better understanding of this, the redesign of educational curriculum and policies to support the development of military children’s mental health, behavior, and educational experiences in school is a more realistic endeavor. Future research within this domain is crucial, as these students’ success in the classroom has a ripple effect on the entire community within which they live.