It’s cold outside. That is the first thing I notice from the comfort of my window staring at a giant moving truck across the street. My neighbors – an active duty member, his spouse and two school-aged children – are moving this winter. I usually associate moving trucks with summer time PCS, end of the school year, swim parties, long and short good byes and summer vacations.
But this PCS feels different: It’s cold outside and school is in full swing, every one is overly busy with school activities and preparing for the holiday season. I can only image how chaotic my neighbor must be feeling. Moving mid-year must feel like a full life upheaval!
PCS’ing with school-age children can be challenging, but more than half of all military PCS’s happen during the summer when school is wrapping up. Moving in the summer is a natural break to make a school transition, but moving mid-year is potentially more disruptive to the entire family.
According to Department of Defense’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, the United States military moves roughly 530,000 service members and their families every year. More than half of those PCS’s are during peak moving months of May through August. That leaves about 250,000 service members and their families moving off-season – during the academic school year.
Most mid-year movers only have a short three weeks between early withdrawal and the start of school after the holiday break – not the long three months of summer like most military families. Throw in a two major holiday’s, limited operating hours for schools, moving companies, local businesses and government agencies and military families are faced with making slow progress for settling in.
As seasoned parents, we know school transition can be hard on children, both socially and academically. School curriculum and services can vary from state to state or even district to district. We’ve pulled together six critical strategies for surviving a mid-year PCS with school age kids.
1. Get organized – quickly.
Preparing for school transition is not unlike preparing for a PCS. You need to gather all school documentation into one binder or folder that tells the education history of your child. It’s seems pretty simple, but organization and gathering the right documents can be time consuming. However, being prepared is key to a successful mid-year school transition.
It’s crucial to tell the education history of the military child to educators who may not be familiar with the military lifestyle. Having everything an educator needs to know about a student in a well organized, complete binder will help keep continuity in education – something many military-connected students haven’t had the luxury to experience. Here’s more info on that.
You’ll need to assemble the following documentation, file it in a three-ring binder and hand carry it to the next location.
- Report cards – all of them, even ones from previous schools. It allows educators to know the educational history of your child.
- Schoolwork samples (spelling tests, essays, math problems, tests)
- Take photo (and print it out) of the text book covers your child is currently using
- Assessment results
- Teacher comments and conference notes
- Individual Education Plan and 504 plan
- Shot records
- Sports physicals
- Speech or occupational therapy evaluations/summaries
- Letters from teachers (to teachers), including specialty teachers (music, coaches and art teachers, for example) if applicable. Follow this link to help guide a comprehensive letter you’re the teacher. https://familiesonthehomefront.com/tell-your-childs-education-story-teacher-communication/
- Testing results (Cog AT, Iowa Assessments, Terra Nova, Lexile, reading readiness, SAT)
Need help pulling it all together? Families On The Home Front offers a free downloadable Operation Dandelion Kids Education Binder to help parents advocate for their child and help tell their child’s education history. The site offers downloadable tabs with checklists, questions to ask and advice for parents.