Your orders are in hand (hopefully) and you’re slowly marking off the calendar until the movers arrive. Moving is never easy, but when you have school age children, moving schools is emotional and difficult (and those are nicest words we could use.)
We asked dozens of military spouses, including school psychologist Becky Harris (see her bio at the end of the article), to generate a parent’s PCS checklist for changing schools. Below is a comprehensive list to help you prepare your family for the upcoming move.
We want to hear from you! Add your tips and tricks, family rituals and new school know-hows in the comments below. Sharing your advice and experiences will help other military families navigate their upcoming PCS. Share your story!
A Parent’s PCS Checklist
2-3 months before you move….
Hunting and Gathering Stage – You know (generally) to where you’ll be moving, but what is the right school for your children? For most of us, we find our house based on the schools we want our kids to attend. It’s time to hunt down the hidden information about schools, teachers and procedures. We want to gather insight into the type of school life your children will have after you PCS.
- The Internet – start here! You’ll want to begin with www.greatschools.org or www.schoolquest.org for specific school ratings. Read the reviews with an open mind, but heed warnings other parents have left for you.
- Search Facebook and other social media for PTO/PTA groups. Ask LOTS of questions on the page and let them know you are a military family. Most other military parents who read your post will reach out to you and pull you into the fold.
- Contact your receiving squadron, unit or command for local contacts. Ask Key Spouses, FRG leaders or Ombudsman for contact information of other spouses with similar aged children. Also, connect quickly with squadron or unit Facebook pages. Ask questions, but don’t forget to be friendly. A great disposition will go a long way in getting help from strangers.
- Contact the receiving base/post School Liaison Officer and Family Readiness Center for information about local schools. More importantly, ask them to give you a contact for a local family willing to field your questions about neighborhoods and schools. The best ‘real’ information is another parent’s referral, testimony or warnings!
- Ask your own network of friends and active duty co-workers about the new PSC location and best schools. We are all linked together and you’ll find multiple people willing to give you advice and connect you with others.
Picking the Right School – This is the toughest part of moving with school-aged kids. You have to make a decision about what school is right for them without so much of a walk thru, an introduction or seeing classrooms/teachers with your own eyes. Here are a few critical questions you need to ask yourself about your child’s education and proposed school:
- Do you want public or private school? Why?
- Transportation – Can you transport yourself or will you need busing?
- Before and after care – What programs are available to you at the school?
- Extra-circular activities – What activities do they have for your child? How expensive are they? Does the community have supplemental programs?
- MOST IMPORTANT – Will the school be able to meet the educational needs of your child?