It’s the holiday season! And just as most families can predict gingerbread-spiced lattes, holiday dinners with relatives and the exchange of gifts, some military families are preparing for another move.
In fact, military children move between six and nine times during their educational careers from kindergarten through high school.
To assist families in dealing with the many challenges faced when transitioning children from schoolhouse to schoolhouse, Military Families for High Standards (MFHS) recently developed and published a Military Family’s Guide to School Transition. It was compiled by military spouses with decades of experience in military PCS moves.
MFHS is an initiative that focuses on securing high, consistent standards at every military assignment for military children and assessments that are measurable and comparable for use in school decisions. Our members realize our efforts can take time to influence and shape educational outcomes in each state. As we work tirelessly to level the playing field for service families, we know that every family decision is critical to their son’s and daughter’s success. With that in mind, we developed the Guide.
The Guide is designed to aid the military family in making an informed decision regarding school placement at their next assignment.
There are nine tips in the Guide, each of which is explained and developed in an easy-to-follow format. They include:
1. 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 location.
2. COMPILE SCHOOL CONTACT INFORMATION
Bring 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.
3. FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE SCHOOL CURRICULUM
It can help a new administration place your child when they are aware of what curriculum materials were used in your last location. Keep a record of what textbooks your child used,
4. KNOW YOUR CHILD’S INTERESTS
Paint a full picture of your child for the new school community with information about their hobbies, interests, sports focus or club involvements.
5. CONNECT WITH SCHOOL LIASONS
Turn to the school liaisons as they provide 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.
6. GET TO KNOW YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD
Visit your District’s website for School Board information on issues, test scores, programs and topics that are current for them. Many include a military member which is a valuable link.
7. MEET WITH SCHOOL’S SPECIAL NEEDS DIRECTOR
If you are the parent of a special needs child, you know how vital your role is in shaping their educational programs. Contact the Special Need’s Director to discuss your child and be sure to take full advantage of the EFMP services available at your installation as well.
8. 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.
9. 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 a list of them in the Guide. They all deal with frequently asked questions and welcome your interest.
The full Guide is available for download at www.militaryfamiliesforhighstandards.org and is ready for anyone to put into practice. It is designed to be shared with friends or those in Units or offer to communities either in printed format or online.
The Guide has been endorsed by nine military-related organizations: 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.
The Guide is a fundamental tool to assist families in making the best decision for their children on the next school enrollment. Use it to your best advantage!
Questions or comments are welcome at our website and we extend an invitation to any who might be interested in joining us in our efforts.
Yours for a good holiday season move and a great spring school enrollment!
Christi Ham is chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards.