It’s the letter that military families can dread. Just as they get acclimated to their latest post and develop roots in the community, the orders come from headquarters that it is time to pack up and move to another base, across, or sometimes out of the country.
While these moves are not easy on any family member, they present particular challenges for the children of our servicemen and women. Military children, on average, move between six and nine times during their educational careers from kindergarten through high school. Such frequent moves can negatively impact a student’s educational progress as he or she bounces from one school district to another.
My organization, Military Families for High Standards, an advocacy group of spouses looking to improve educational experiences and opportunities for our nation’s military-connected students, wanted to make these transitions from school to school easier on the families and students affected. With this goal in mind, we worked closely with nine different military organizations and dozens of military spouses to create the Military Family’s Guide to School Transitions, a checklist of nine important steps parents can take to help make your child’s school transition easier for each move.
The full guide is available for download at https://militaryfamiliesforhighstandards.org and is ready for anyone to put into practice. It is designed to be shared with friends, with those in Units, or offered to communities, with an easy to print PDF and additional interactive resources and anecdotes from military spouses on the website.
Organize School Records
Prior to movers whisking all your property away, pull school records, copies of birth certificates and immunization records to have at the ready so you can begin conversations at your new school.
Compile School Contact Information
Collect the names, phone numbers, addresses and email information from your old location of those involved with your child’s school performance to maintain any needed contact in the future.
Familiarize Yourself With The School Curriculum
Being aware of the curriculum materials used in your last location can help a new administrators place your child in the right courses. Keeping a record of what textbooks your child used, will certainly make this task easier.
Know Your Child’s Interests
Paint a full picture that gives the new school community information about your child’s hobbies, interests, sports focus or club involvements.
Connect With School Liasons
Use the school liaison officer as a resource for gaining access to accurate and full information on schools and services on and near installations. They can answer many questions to lead your search in the right direction.
Get To Know Your Local School Board
Visit your district’s website for school board information on issues, test scores, programs and meeting schedules. Many school boards often include a military member, who can be a valuable link.
Meet With School’s Special Needs Director
If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you know how vital your role is in shaping their educational programs. Contact the school’s Special Education Director to discuss your child and be sure to take full advantage of the EFMP services available at your installation as well.
Get Familiar With The Interstate Compact
The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children is in place to address transition issues. Their website, as cited on the guide, fully explains the strength of this resource in relocation efforts.
Take Advantage Of The Plethora of Military Parent Resources
You should take full advantage of Military Families for High Standards and other organizations that stand ready to assist you assist you in your re-location planning. You can find them listed on the guide. They all have the knowledge to answer your questions and welcome your interest.
Military Family’s Guide to School Transitions was created in tandem with the Air Force Association, the Association of the United States Army, Champions for Children, the Military Child Education Coalition, Military Officers Association of America, Mission: Readiness, the National Math + Science Initiative, National Military Family Association and the Navy League.
This guide is a fundamental tool to assist families in setting their children up for success on the next school enrollment. Use it to your best advantage!
Questions or comments are welcomed at our website and we extend an invitation to any spouses who might be interested in joining us in our efforts to improve education experiences for our children.
Wishing your family the best of luck on your next move.