You’ve received your PCS orders. Between using MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and Plan My Move, looking for a new home and packing, you’ll have another big job to do if you’re a military parent – helping your kids cope with moving.
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.
Helping your kids say goodbye and plan for the move
Being part of the military community, you know the drill – it’s 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 kids 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 kids 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.
- Let your kids help. Get them involved. Teens may be able to search online for new houses, scout out their new school or fun things to do on the new installation. Younger and older kids can help pack or at least pack their own stuff or favorite items.
- Reassure your children. Tell them that you love them, and that together the family will adjust. Stay upbeat and tell them new adventures await. Remind them that you’re a military strong family!
- Celebrate your kids’ favorite things. Before the move, make sure you get some good family time in going to their favorite parks, restaurants, recreation spots and other places. Have them take something to their new home.
- Look ahead. Spend time with your children researching their new school, area parks and base activities. Make it fun. It’s an adventure.
Use your installation’s relocation assistance program to help you plan for your move, transition your kids to their new school or get referrals or information to reduce the stress around moving. Call, click or connect to Military OneSource 800-342-9647 and ask how Military and Family Support Service can help you ease your family’s move. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.
Helping your kids adjust to their new home and school
After planning, there are several steps you can take to help your children transition smoothly to their new digs.
- 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 kids the chance to get 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.
- 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. The liaisons work with schools to minimize the negative consequences of transitions and inform schools about issues related to the education of military youth. Find your installation’s school liaison contact information on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS by searching for “School Liaison Office/Community Schools” under Programs or Services.
- Remain patient with your kids. 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 kids 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 kids – 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. It’s called Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, and here’s how it can help you and you kids:
- Enrolling is easier. Unofficial records from your old school allows your students to enroll without delay, before the official transcript arrives. You also get 30 days to get any needed immunizations.
- Getting key classes. Rest assured that your children will get 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 school liaison at your installation 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. Otherwise, during this time, be a strong and caring model for your kids. Upward and onward!