By Marguerite Cleveland
One of the most difficult parts of a PCS move is helping a child navigate a new school system. I attended six schools from K-12 and in one epic year three schools. My own children have attended six schools as well. It is a rite of passage for military kids and one they will survive. I was a very shy and quiet child and the frequent moves helped bring me out of my shell. I have seen the same positive effects on my eldest who was on the shy side as well.
One of the best intros to a new school my youngest had was when shortly after we had moved in there was a knock on the door and this confident kid bounced in and said that he heard my son was going to his school and he wanted to meet him. They spent time hanging out over the summer. On the first day of school my son thought he might be abandoned, but his new friend made a point to introduce him to everyone.
Even though there are positives it is still tough being the new kid. Here are a few tips to help make the transition easier.
- Never tell your child how hard it is going to be or put your own fears upon them. Let the child reflect how they are feeling. Listen and acknowledge, but don’t feed their fears with your own.
- Check to see if your child’s new school offers any summer programs. This will give them an opportunity to meet other children from their school.
- Look at the Youth Programs on your installation and sign your children up for some fun activities. If you live on a military base chances are they will meet children going to their new school.
- Sports Camps are another way for your children to meet other kids.
- Schedule a tour of the new school for your children. Take advantage of any orientations or opportunities to meet teachers before the first day of school. Ask if your school has a program to pair new students with a peer sponsor.
- Make sure you and your child are prepared for the first day. Read the school handbook and ensure you know all the rules especially the dress code which varies across the country. Purchase all required school supplies. Your child just wants to blend in and not stand out due to wrong clothes, supplies etc. Learn the school lunch policy. If you are going to purchase lunch make sure to set up the lunch account. If packing lunch ensure there are not any forbidden foods. Many schools now regulate lunches due to food allergies.
With proper preparation you can help your child’s transition to a new school run smoothly. If it is not a new school for your child encourage them to meet and welcome the new kids. What are your tips to help your child adjust to a new school?
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.PeggyWhereShouldIGo.com