Education is a growing concern in defense communities, according to the CMSI Pain Points Poll, a rolling survey of military families, veteran families and community leaders. The most recent survey results show that 41% of military family respondents identify education resources as one of the top three unmet needs in their communities.

“There is concern from parents and also students who are being very honest in their feedback that Mom or Dad or the other adults in their family might not be prepared to be full-time educators,” said Pamela Brehm, the senior director of military and government programs at, which has seen an increase in the needs for its online services. “There’s a lot of stress around that. And as we all know, stress impedes learning.”

Brehm and other panelists said Thursday during CMSI’s virtual town hall, “Strategies for Resuming K-12 Education,” that much of the anxiety is related to uncertainty about when schools will re-open.

We’re sort of thinking about it in three big chunks – summer learning, restarting the school year, and then reopening,” said Patricia Ewen of the Department of Defense Education Activity. “It’s quite possible we may restart the year and not reopen, or reopen and then move to distance learning to restart.”

The panelists encouraged parents to document their students’ work and communicate with their schools when they get the opportunity.

That’s especially important for students with special needs, according to Michelle Norman, executive director of Partners in Promise. At-home learning also gives parents an opportunity to become better advocates for their children, she said.

Parents, you’re now seeing your child’s strengths. You’re now seeing your child’s weaknesses,” Norman said. “What has worked and what hasn’t worked at home? You are now the most knowledgeable person that has overseen the delivery.

Ewen said parents who have had to take on the role of educator should remember that typical school days include only about three hours of direct instruction and that teachers are accustomed to helping some students catch up in a new academic year.

“Doing your best is enough,” Ewen said.