Local News

Parents, Teachers See Behavioral Changes In Young Children During Deployment

Posted March 7, 2003

— With the threat of war making headlines every day, watching and waiting continue to be extremely tough for military families. WRAL is following one young family going through the ups and downs of deployment.

Specialist Gerald White with the 82nd Airborne Division took off for Kuwait Feb. 13. He left behind his wife, Angela, and two daughters -- a 6-year-old and a newborn. This is the first major deployment for the White family, so being so far apart is new to them.

Angela White said right after Gerald left, she noticed changes in 6-year-old Ashley. So did Ashley's teacher.

First-grade teacher Maggie Carson said it has taken Ashley a few weeks to get her focus back. Like most military children, her behavior changed when her dad went away.

"She had a hard adjustment period, she's more talkative. It was hard to get her to settle down and get to work," Carson said.

Ashley is extremely focused on a particular class assignment. She and her classmates are writing letters to deployed soldiers. Some of the notes and homemade flags will be sent to her dad.

"It's to help him feel better," she said.

Carson's bulletin board tracks her student's behavior. Ashley lost one of her stars for talking out of turn. The 6-year-old says she is trying really hard to listen better.

Since incorporating patriotic music and lessons into her curriculum, Carson said her military children seem to concentrate more. Carson said she is adding more one-on-one time with her students as well.

"[Ashley's] settled back down and is getting back to work," she said.

Deployment is a lot for little ones to handle. Ashley's letter to her daddy expresses that best.

"I miss you. I will be there when you get off the plane," she wrote.

Angela White is spending a lot of one-on-one time with Ashley at home, too. She thinks that has helped her daughter's behavior at home and in school.

The Whites are three weeks into a deployment that could last seven months -- or more. With spring approaching, August does not seem as far away.

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