This may sound ridiculous, but I have a 10- year-old son who is very interested in the military. He has several big dreams, which include becoming a Blue Angel, building boats, driving tanks, running container ships, and the like. Overall he’s a pretty neat kid, and one of his greatest strengths is that he pays attention to his coaches and teachers, but he does not like school. The kiddo is in Cub Scouts, plays hockey and chess, and is taking trumpet lessons. He has an interest in history and science. We are dreaming big and maybe a military academy is an option for his future.
The most obvious problem right now is that the kid does not like school, and is not a natural student, but he is a good listener and his teachers like him, he is doing OK but is not an advanced student.
Is it too early to be thinking about getting him prepared so he has as many options in his future as possible? Should we be pushing the academics now in hopes of greater interest and future success in high school?
Because it is ridiculous which you probably already know. Just feed his interests and what comes will come. There are a lot of programs in boat-building open to kids a bit older than he is, for example. Research stuff like that. Help him explore who he is. That is the greatest gift you can give him.
@ScouterMomof3: I agree that encouraging his innate interests at this (and any) age is the best approach. If he is enjoying Scouting, that is the single best non-athletic EC he can show to the service academies eventually and, if he can earn his Eagle rank, that will give him top points in the leadership category. But, that’s a long way off. For now, just encourage him along his way. He will be a very different kid by the time he is applying to colleges.
Many ten-year-old boys have a long way to go before they mature into the good students they can be. I don’t believe that “pushing” is ever a good approach, but modeling good habits that support academic success like organization and time management will help to instill the discipline he needs to do his best and, of course, ensuring he gets the help he needs wherever he struggles. You know, just the good parenting stuff you’re probably already doing.
If, by the time he hits high school, he’s interested in the service academies, he can start to lurk over on the serviceacademyforums website which is the official forum for academy applicants and is moderated by and contributed to by current and former military officers and enlisted as well as cadets and mids. You and he can get all of your questions answered there.
For now, though, I agree with @CCtoAlaska’s advice to just feed his interests – and teach him to make his bed every morning.
(Our son is a senior at West Point. He didn’t show a whiff of interest in the SAs until junior year of high school, and we still don’t know where that desire came from.)
Just a suggestion, but find out now if he has a disqualifying medical condition. Our good friends helped their son prepare his entire high school career for USNA, only to learn that his extreme peanut allergy disqualified him from admission. They always knew about the allergy, just didnt realize it would be a problem.
Severe peanut allergies are a DQ for all services, but note that different health conditions may be treated differently depending on the service (for example, color-blindness is a DQ for AF but not for Army) and some conditions may not show up until high school or later. Occasionally, some cadets/mids are allowed to graduate but not commission due to health conditions that appear while at the academies. Asthma is one common condition that has a lot of “it depends” attached to it. Ultimately, DoDMERB will decide what is a DQ, and the particular academy will decide whether or not to waiver the DQ. But, I agree with @roycroftmom that investigating the DoDMERB evaluation of various conditions beforehand can be informative and useful before your son starts the journey.
If he does have any condition you are concerned about, there is a very helpful DoDMERB subforum on the serviceacademyforums board where you can inquire further.