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School participation and children in military families: A scoping review

APA Citation:

Cramm, H., & Tam-Seto, L. (2018). School participation and children in military families: A scoping review. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention, 11(3), 302-317. https://doi.org/10.1080/19411243.2018.1445060

Abstract Created by REACH:

Most children in military families manage military life well even as they encounter unique challenges such as parental job relocations and parental deployments. These stressors, however, may have consequences for school engagement, academic performance, and social relationships among military-connected children. To better understand the research available about school-related engagement, academics, and social relationships for military-connected children, 112 articles published between 1990 and 2015 were reviewed. An analysis of the literature revealed that although military-connected children are generally adaptable, difficulties may be experienced when handling transitions (e.g., attending a new school), maintaining academics (e.g., lower math and science test scores), developing social relationships, and engaging in extracurricular activities (e.g., team sports). In addition, the military-connected child’s school environment (e.g., teacher support in understanding military culture) was noted as playing a key role in mitigating the negative impacts of military challenges on school-related functioning.



Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Child of a service member or veteran
Guard/Reserve member
Military families
Spouse of service member or veteran


Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
School age (6 - 12 yrs)


Review of Literature


Cramm, Heidi, Tam-Seto, Linna


Children from military families experience high mobility, stressors due to parental separation and increased risk of parental injury and death. This study aimed to identify and describe school-related occupational disruption for students from military families. Arskey and O’Malley’s structured approach to scoping reviews was used. Students in military families experience occupational challenges in managing transitions across schools, maintaining academics, developing social relationships, and engaging in extracurricular activities. The environment can also enable school-related occupations. Occupational therapists are encouraged to consider military-connected students as a vulnerable population and use school-based services to address mental health issues.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Taylor & Francis

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen's University, HC
School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen's University, LTS


occupational disruption, military-connected children, school occupational therapy

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  March 2020

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