For military-connected children, the first day at a new school is more than just being the new kid; it can be like starting over – again.
And as many times as our little warriors move across the globe, being the new kid never gets easier. Going back-to-school at a new school after a recent PCS usually means new routines, new friends, new curriculum, and more.
It’s a bit daunting for our youngsters, but we’ve asked a professional counselor and a few seasoned parents to give us some insight, best advice, and valuable school transition tips for all ages to start the new school year off right!
1. Get them involved
Lisa Remey, a licensed counselor, military spouse and mom of two, says getting involved early is crucial after a PCS.
“One of the toughest adjustments for our military kids to make is finding a new normal, which includes finding their way not just academically, but also socially by connecting through friends and activities. As military families, we know our time in any given location is limited and there is no time like the present to plug in and get involved. We also know firsthand that change is hard and that keys to a smooth transition include accepting your child’s sense of loss while at the same time providing support, encouragement and resources,“ explains Remey.
2. Monitor behavior
Remey also recommends monitoring your child for prolonged or unusual behavioral changes. These can be a sign that your little warrior may need additional help with transition.
“Feelings of stress and loss are a normal part of any change, move, or transition. However, a change over an extended period of time is an indicator of higher stress and a red flag. Symptoms my include a change in your child’s interests, activity level, sleep pattern, eating, grades or an increase in physical complaints. If you notice some of these concerns extra support would be helpful such as talking to the school counselor or Military Family Life Consultant (MFLC),” suggests Remey.
3. Stick to a routine
Lisa also stressed the importance of keeping routines.
“Maintain daily routines and expectations. Keeping your same family routines and expectations brings comfort and stability to children of all ages. This may be as simple as your morning routine, homework routine, and dinner times. Family structure and routine is comforting in daily life and something that can be kept wherever you are (even during the hotel/TLF days)”
Meet Our Expert: Lisa Remey is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist. Her professional experiences range from school counselor to private practice to creating a FEMA program for disaster counseling in schools to social worker. Lisa’s primary role for the past 20 years has been a military spouse as well as supporting military families through volunteer work. Visit Lisa at lisaremey.com