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Ways to Help Your Children Cope With Moving

You’ve received your PCS orders. Between packing and looking for a new home, you’ll have another big job to do if you’re a military parent – helping your children cope with moving.

Received PCS orders? Before you go, contact your school liaison.

Find out how a school liaison can help you and your family navigate school selection and youth sponsorship.

Military families move frequently, so this can be both an exciting and challenging time for children and teens. Keep in mind while you’re busy preparing, they’ll need extra attention and help in this transition. Prepare and show how to move with confidence. Utilize the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and Plan My Move tools to help manage your family’s move details. Here are a few tips to make your next move a smooth one for your entire family.

Helping your children say goodbye and plan for the move

Being part of the military community, you know that mission success is all about being prepared. Good results follow good preparation. Preparing your children for the move will make it easier for them to adjust. Some tips:

  • Alert your children to the move ASAP. Just like you, they need time to prepare and time to adjust to the idea of moving and saying goodbye to their friends.
  • Listen to your children and provide answers. Your children may have lots of questions or may need some space during this transition. Answer their questions as best you can. Be patient with yourself and your children during this time. Help your children research their new school, nearby parks and installation activities. The adjustment — for you and your children — will take time.
  • Let your children help. Get them involved. Teens may be able to search online for new houses and scout out their new school or fun things to do on the new installation. Older youth can help pack, and younger children can pack their own belongings, favorite items or “first day box.”
  • Reassure your children. Tell them that you love them and that together the family will adjust to their new address. Your children take their cues from you. Stay positive and keep them involved in the move. Remind them that you’re a military strong family and that new adventures await!
  • Celebrate your children’s favorite things. Before the move, make a point to take some family time to visit your favorite parks, restaurants, recreation spots and other favorite places. Have them take something special or a photo from one of those places to the new house and encourage your child to find a new favorite spot in your new location.
  • Look ahead. Spend time with your children researching their new school, area parks and base activities. Make it fun. It’s an exciting journey!

Helping your children adjust to their new home and school

After your initial planning, there are several steps you can take to help your children transition smoothly to their new home and school.

  • Consult with your installation’s school liaison. Many installations have a school liaison to serve as a bridge and facilitator between schools and military families. School liaisons are your primary point of contact for all school-related matters, especially a school transition. The school liaison at your current installation can connect you to your new installation school liaison who will help smooth the transition to your child’s new school. Let your school liaison help you and your family navigate school selection and youth sponsorship during this time of change. Your school liaison can work with your new school to minimize the disruption of transitions and inform schools about issues related to the education of military youth. Find your current and future installation’s school liaison contact information on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
  • Request a sponsor. The Sponsorship Program connects you with someone at your new location. Sponsors can help ease the transition for inbound service members, civilians and family members. If you haven’t been assigned a sponsor, you can request one through your new unit, which will try to match you with a sponsor with similar rank and family status.
  • Look into the Youth Sponsorship Program. Many installations give youth the chance to meet a new friend and become acquainted with their new installation through the installation’s youth program. Where available, they can exchange emails, talk on the phone or chat online. For more information, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and click on Youth Services and your new installation. The youth program staff at your new installation can offer more information on the Youth Sponsorship Program. Families with children may also want to visit Military Kids Connect, an online community for military children and youth. The site offers games, videos and links to teen-led installation tours.
  • Remain patient with your children. If they weren’t nervous before, they may be now that you’ve moved and they are facing a new school, neighborhood and friends. Listen, support and be there for your children during the transition.
  • Smooth your children’s entry into school. The military helps you ease what could be one of the biggest stressors for your children – a new school. All 50 states have agreed to help military families ensure their children can enroll in needed classes, play sports and graduate on time through the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. Here’s how the compact can help you and your students:
    • Enrolling is easier. Using unofficial records from your old school allows your students to enroll without delay, before the official transcript arrives. You also have 30 days to obtain any needed immunizations.
    • Getting key classes. Rest assured that your children will be placed in appropriate required classes, advanced placement and special needs programs while awaiting evaluation at their new school. The new school can assess your child but can’t put your child in a “holding class” during the assessment time.
    • Playing sports and other extracurricular activities right away. If your child is eligible, the new school will facilitate participation in extracurricular activities even if application deadlines or tryouts have passed.
    • Graduating. The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children helps to ensure there will be no delays as a result of the move in terms of your high schooler’s graduation.

Contact your installation school liaison for assistance in helping you and your children transition to their new school and find out about services and programs available at your new installation.

Having your move details in order, as well as being a strong and caring role model for your children, will help you and your family make a smooth move. Use your installation’s relocation assistance program to help you plan for your move, transition your students to their new school or get referrals or information to reduce the stress around moving. Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or schedule a live chat to ask how Military and Family Support Service can help you ease your family’s move. OCONUS/international? Click here for calling options.

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