By Craig Gilman
Faculty Member at American Military University
Are you on the move? Summer is a time of transition and change for the military child. For many service members and their families, summer is the time when permanent changes of duty station (PCS) occur. While there is often excitement about moving to a new location, there is also a tremendous amount of stress. This can be especially true for the children of military families who often both suffer the sadness of leaving their old friends, school, jobs and community behind and deal with the anxiety of establishing themselves when arriving at their new home.
Fathers can best support their children during moves to new duty stations by using a variety of resources and strategies available to them and providing a calm, paternal confidence and a positive outlook. The DoD Family Readiness Council provides many resources for military families, including an entire section of its website dedicated to military kids. You can also visit their Facebook Information Page to stay abreast of the latest military family news.
The Department of Defense Education Activity provides a wide variety of useful resources via its Military K-12 Partners program. Visit the resources section where included on their site is their Students at the Center page. Here you will find valuable resources for parents and resources that can be shared with schools. You will also find a link to the School Liaison Officers (SLO) directory. When arriving at your new school district, use this directory to contact your bases SLO. They are there to coordinate and assist school aged children of military parents with educational opportunities and information necessary to succeed in an academic environment.
Form New Community Relationships
Consider joining your new school's PTA to form relationships in your new community and to advocate on behalf of all military K-12 students. Share the American Association of School Administrators' Supporting the Military Child Toolkit with the principals and teachers at your child's new school.
When it comes to military children and education, the work of the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) is focused on ensuring quality educational opportunities for all military children affected by mobility, family separation, and transition. One very successful initiative they offer is the Student 2 Student program. In the S2S program a delegation from the school is trained to return to their home campus to provide leadership to support students who are transitioning to or from their school. The team is composed of advisors and students. The focus is student-centered, and is student-led, with close supervision. The development of student trainers who can return to their home campus to train other peers is critical to the success and credibility of the program. If your new school belongs to this program, sign your student up. If it doesn't, introduce S2S to the school's administration.
The new semester is fast approaching. Kick the tires, pack the trailer, plan the trip and provide the support your family needs during the move. When you arrive at your new location, you will be busy, but in regards to your children's education, be proactive.