10 tips for the change in your child's education

10 tips for the change in your child's education

by Ruth Ploeger, Army Region School Liaison Officer/Transition Support Specialist
Family and MWR CYS Services

Often military families are so preoccupied with the logistics of PCSing, that the academic needs of the child gets overlooked. Here are a few quick tips to help your child have a smooth take-off from their current school, and a soft landing in his/her new school.

  1. As soon as you receive orders, notify your child’s school in writing. Provide the date of your child’s last day. It’s never too early to do this!
  2. Contact the School Liaison Officer (SLO) at your new duty station. Your current liaison can help you make a smooth exit at your old duty station. Your new Europe SLO can help you with information about your new location and answer any questions you may have. 
  3. Create a School PCS folder for each child. In the folder, place the PCS checklist found on the link at the bottom of this page and all of the items you collect listed on the checklist in this folder. Before you pack all of your important papers, place the papers you will need to register your child in his/her new school in this folder! Include: copy of birth certificate or passport, shot record, copy of transcript, & special needs evaluations. DO NOT PACK THIS FOLDER! Hand carry it!
  4. Research the area where you are moving. You should investigate the schools BEFORE you choose somewhere to live! Some locations have multiple schools. Your SLO can help you with any questions and zone information.
  5. Remember that data is only ONE indicator of a school’s quality. If at all possible, go to the school and observe…see for yourself. Most importantly, do not form an opinion about a school or teacher based on the rumor mill. Every family, child, and situation is different. A school/teacher that is not a good fit for one family can be another family’s perfect fit.
  6. If you have a child with special needs, meet with your Special Education Teacher. Ask that they contact the new school personally if need be. Be sure to get a copy of your child’s up to date IEP, evaluations, notes, etc. for the School PCS folder. If you haven’t already, be sure to enroll in the Exceptional Family Member Program.
  7. Network! Touch base with the local FRG, spouse’s club, or perhaps your sponsor or sponsor’s spouse to get some insight. Your child can “network” with a youth sponsor. Child, Youth and School Services Youth Sponsorship program can help your child “network” Complete an online request for a youth sponsor on the SLO website.
  8. Talk to your child about the social/emotional stresses of moving. Let them share their concerns. Plan a “farewell” party or at least designate a time to allow your child a chance to have closure and say goodbye. You may want to provide your child with a notebook in which he/she can collect names, photos, email addresses and phone numbers. Go to Military Youth on the Move website for more ideas.
  9. If you know where your child will go to school at the new duty station, contact the school to get calendar information, registration details, course selection, and even sports try out deadlines! Your SLO can assist you with making those contacts and accessing that information as well.
  10. Be patient! Settling in takes time, and some kids take longer to make new friends. Find activities and opportunities to connect with other kids. (CYS Services can help you with this) Before you know it your child will be telling you about his best friend and the cool thing they did in school that day.

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