Inside: Learn 6 ways to help your military child adjust to a new school after a military PCS move. Plus, grab this PCS checklist for changing schools with military kids.
After a few years here, your family has finally settled into school. The kids have dear, sweet friends. They are involved in sports, Girl or Boy Scouts and clubs after school.
Then the PCS orders hit, and suddenly your family is kissing ALL of that stability good-bye. Your kids and their friends are in tears. You’re not sure how to help everyone adjust to your brand new home town.
Here’s the good news…
You can take action now to help your military child adjust to a new school after a PCS.
Operation Purple Camps
Did you know that there are FREE camps, just for military kids? Thanks to the National Military Family Association, many military kiddos get to experience amazing camps every summer!
Priority is given to kiddos with a deployed or recently deployed parent or those with an injured parent. But your child could still have a shot!
Spots fill fast, so register your children today.
Going to an Operation Purple Camp near your new base will help your kids to make vital connections to other military children near them. Friendships form fast at camp, so don’t be surprised to hear all about their new best friends by the second day!
Local Day Camps
Day camps are like ice cream trucks at the beach: plentiful and wonderful. There is a great chance that your new hometown has at least one camp experience for all of your school-aged children.
From the YMCA to Girl and Boy Scout camps, day camps to sleepaway, there is something for everyone. Do your research before you move. Spots fill up quickly for many in-demand camps, especially specialty camps for sports, art or anything to do with animals.
Your child will need friends in and out of the military community, especially if she is going to off-base schools. Going to camp help to create those connections through shared experiences and interests.
It will be amazing to have a friendly face on day one of school!
Reach Out Online
When you know where you are going, you can use the amazing powers of social media to find contacts in your next location. A simple ask can get your child a lot of new possible friends:
Anyone have middle school aged girls who like anime, animals or Adele near Fort Bragg?
Yes, not every single person who responds will have that perfect friend match for your son or daughter. But it sure does open up new options!
Post your request on the Facebook page for your next duty station or reach out to the PTA at your next school. These are great places to find those potential connections. As a bonus, you’ll get spun up on the ins and outs of your new hometown, too!
Try to schedule a trial run meet-up for right after you arrive. Maybe grab ice cream or lounge at the base pool. It will be low key, but can also help kids to make a new friend.
Cherish the Memories
This one takes a little bit of planning but will pay off big time.
Collect pictures of your children and their friends. Ask the other kids’ parents for their pictures, too. Put everything into photo books using an online service. Leave some spaces blank, especially next to pictures of besties or of special events.
When the book arrives, ask your kids’ friends to write special notes in the blank spots. Then, when you arrive in your new home, give your kiddos their own memory books.
Use the books to help your child keep their connections to their last base and relive those amazing memories. This can help with homesickness and loneliness. It’s also a great reminder that military kids can make friendships anywhere, anytime.
“Would you jump off a bridge if your friends did it?”
Well, no. But when you’re a military kid at a new school, it pays to be a joiner! No matter when you arrive at your new location, have your children join as many sports teams, clubs or activities as reasonably possible. Don’t run yourself ragged, but encourage them to explore different activities, too.
Being in different social circles will help your kids to make friends and try out different things. Maybe at their last school, they felt pigeonholed into being the “soccer girl” or the “art guy.” A new school gives them a chance to reinvent themselves!
Meet the Teacher
A great teacher can make or break a school year. As a new military kid, teachers don’t have a lot of background info to work with to provide help with academics or just life.
Help your teachers out and introduce your child (or let your child introduce himself)! Provide information about the last school, your child’s likes and dislikes or anything else the teacher might need to know.
As a teacher, I LOVE when I’m handed a bunch of great information about a new student. It saves me time, and makes the transitions smoother for everyone!
Grab your free printable checklist!
This post comes with a free printable PCS checklist for changing schools. Make it easy to remember all the things you need when your military child changes schools.
Want more on military life?
- The Ultimate PCS Checklist for Military Kids Changing Schools
- 10 Books That Will Help Military Kids Prepare for Their Next PCS Move
- 7 Best Army Toys for Kids to Inspire Imagination and Creativity
- 9 Hidden Ways to Save Money at the Commissary and Exchange