6 Tips to Help Military Kids Adjust to a New School
School is almost back in session, and this fact can have military families experiencing a myriad of emotions – everything from delight to dread. For military children who are able to return to the same school, they attended last year, back-to-school time can be joyful and exciting. But for those military children heading to new schools filled with unfamiliar faces, this season can be distressing and scary. If your child is one of the estimated 185,000 military children who have to change schools annually due to a parent’s change in duty station, please keep reading. We have a few recommendations that will hopefully ease the stress of transitioning to a new school this year:
Contact a School Liaison Officer
School liaison officers are advocates for military-connected students. They are the link between military families, schools and the community at large. School liaison officers provide a variety of resources, information and referrals to military families new to an installation free of charge. They also can assist military families who choose to homeschool or to enroll in private, charter or online schools. In addition to providing school transition assistance, contact a school liaison officer at your current or gaining installation for help with:
- Special education
- Deployment support
- Youth programs
- Scholarship and grant resources
- College, career, and military readiness
Every major military installation has a School Liaison Program. For a list of school liaisons at CONUS and OCONUS installations, please visit the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission website at www.mic3.net and scroll down to the “Find My School Liaison” menu.
Contact an Education Consultant at Military OneSource
Education Consultants can answer questions and provide information and resources to help ease back-to-school transitions. Education Consultants can also assist with:
- Referrals to in-home tutors and tutoring centers in your area.
- Sources for financial aid and scholarships.
- Information on SAT and ACT test preparation programs.
Schedule a free consultation by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or by visiting the website at www.militaryonesource.mil . This service is available to families of Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve service members.
Join Facebook Groups Affiliated with your Child’s School
Search Facebook for school/parent groups or grade-level-specific pages that you can “like” and “follow” to obtain information about the school and extracurricular activities for your child. Through these groups, you could arrange playdates or get-togethers with other parents as a way to introduce your child to others and encourage new friendships before the new school year gets underway.
Introduce Yourself to the Principal and Staff at the New School
Sharing your status as a military family new to the school district may spark other conversations about events and happenings for military-connected families in the area and at the school. Inquire about before- or after-school clubs for military children. If your new school is located in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, Arkansas, South Caroline, North Carolina, Georgia or Indiana, it may be a part of the Purple Star School program. This is a state-sponsored program through which schools commit to implementing programs and services to help military children with transitions and deployments. If your child will be attending a Purple Star School, a meet-and-greet with school administrators can be the perfect opportunity to gather more information on how the school can support your family.
Volunteer at the New School
Serve as the “Room Parent” for your child’s class (this may consist of organizing classroom parties and events, donating classroom supplies and assisting the teacher with projects). Participate in the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). Help out on school field trips. It can be comforting for your child to see their parent actively engaged in the new environment. Additionally, volunteering at the new school gives you a firsthand glimpse of how your child is adjusting and adapting to the transition.
Promote the Positives of Being “The New Kid”
Acknowledge any negative feelings your child expresses about having to attend a new school, then accentuate the positive aspects of this journey. If parents are enthusiastic about the new school and new opportunities, chances are, children will be also.
May this school year be the best one yet for your families!
Resources Consulted for this Article:
Military OneSource: www.militaryonesource.mil
Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission: www.mic3.net
Military Child Education Coalition: www.militarychild.org
Department of Defense Education Activity: www.dodea.edu