Is Military School for Kids?

Is military school for kids? It is important to clarify what type of military school you are asking about when it comes to youth. There are military schools designed for teens wishing to excel in a military career, then there are military schools for troubled youth. Keep reading to learn what type of military school may be the best for your child.

What Is a Military School?

Some people, when hearing the term military school, may call to mind the five service academies for the Armed Forces of the United States:

  • Air Force—U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) Colorado Springs, CO
  • Army—U.S. Military Academy (USMA) West Point, NY
  • Coast Guard—U.S. Coast Guard Academy  (USCGA) New London, CT
  • Coast Guard, Navy, Merchant Marines—U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) Kings Point, NY
  • Navy, Marines—U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Annapolis, MD

These are institutions for tertiary (college level), and attendance incurs a 5-year obligation of active duty. These are definitely not schools for kids.

Another type of institution that may come to mind is the enforced training of underage soldiers in other countries, where boys are forced into military service. This training in the art of war is not well-named “schooling.”

Other people may think of reform schools when they hear the term military school. But institutions designed to “reform” kids, even when they claim military discipline and military personnel, and bootcamp techniques are a) usually not an accredited school and b) usually not—with the exception of the National Guard ChalleNGe program—endorsed by the US Armed Forces, and their tactics have been called into question as having any merit for the reform they attempt to instigate, and with a history of kids getting hurt at such places, saying they are “for kids” doesn’t make a lot of sense.

But none of these is the usual meaning of the term military school. A military school is generally a K–12 institution designed to serve usually secondary students, but sometimes primary level students, in a college preparatory environment, with a military component.

Let’s look at the characteristics of military schools that are “for kids.”

Characteristics of Military Schools for Kids

Public and private college preparatory military schools are for kids. The private schools, in particular, pride themselves on their long history of providing an education that addresses the whole child, including his or her spiritual life. These schools combine a military style environment, in which there is a hierarchy and students (called cadets) wear uniforms and participate in JROTC programs during their high school years, with demanding academic programs, and usually a well-rounded athletic and extracurricular activity program.

Though most military schools for kids—public and private—are for grades 9–12, you are more likely to find private military schools that include some, if not all, of the middle school/junior high years, and some that accept or focus on younger students. The  private American Military Academy in Puerto Rico, for example, is a PK–12 school, while the public Toole Military Magnet Academy in South Carolina offers grades 6–8, and St. Catherine’s Military Academy—also private—is for students in grades K–8.