Moving to a new school is a challenge. Whether you have moved to a new town or moved up in grade requiring a move in school, it feels like starting over. It is something new, a fresh start, a beginning. This isn’t an easy adjustment or task for adults, much less for the children in your life. If your kids are starting at a new school this year, help them with the new transition.
If you are able to, once you know where you are moving to, connect your children with other kids their age at the new duty station. You may not be able to predict the school you are going to if you do not know where you will be moving to, but connecting with someone in the area will help them feel connected to their new area.
If interested, check to see if there is a Youth Mentorship program at your next installation. Check Military One Source here to see if there is a youth program at your next installation, and reach out via email or telephone to see if they have a mentorship program specifically. This program will connect two children of similar ages – through email or letters – to allow children to converse with each other. This can allow your kids to express their concerns to someone else who would understand, someone their age who may have recently gone through a move themselves.
The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children was made specifically with military children in mind. One such amenity is allowing for enrollment with unofficial school records while awaiting official transcripts to be sent. It also allows for 30 days for children to get any necessary vaccinations. If playing sports is important to your child, they can begin playing right away even if they missed tryouts as outlined by the Compact. Read about the Compact more from the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission.
Plug Them In
If you are unsure of what school options there are, reach out to the base School Liason. This position is specifically made to provide information on schools to incoming military families. They can provide registration dates, ideas on school options based on housing areas, and any other school-specific questions you may have.
If there is a summer school session, see if the school will allow a tour during school hours or perhaps once it is let out. This allows for familiarizing with the school before the first day. This off-cycle tour doesn’t usually allow for meeting their teacher unless they have already been assigned, but it allows for a chance to see the school, get familiar with the cafeteria and playground, and any special programs your children would be interested in.
When the official open house is announced, make sure to attend. This allows the kids to meet others in their classroom outside of the start of school. This also allows for meeting their teacher and parents to meet others who may be able to help with staying on top of assignments for the year or help with carpooling if you need it in the future. When the parents are plugged into the school, the kids will usually feel more comfortable.
While your children may have questions, they may be too shy to ask them. When at the new school, ask the teacher how your family can best support the classroom and about expectations. Ask about school activities and get a full school calendar. Ask about independent learning or study if you may need to take an extended absence from school in the future (deployment, pre-deployment, family concerns, etc). Knowing as an adult the expectations for school will help your children know what to expect and be better prepared for the school year.
Get phone numbers from other parents in your child’s classroom to help your kids get connected.
It is impossible to prepare for every scenario, but it is possible to prepare as much as you are able to. Get your kids ready for school with a plan, and get to know their new school, which can help them adjust after a PCS move.