3 TIPS TO JUMP START A PCS WITH KIDS
For some of us older gals, PCS steps into our lives like a welcome old friend. When it shows up at our door, unannounced and arms wide open, it doesn’t matter that our house is a mess. Did we leave one of yesterday’s penciled eyebrows on our pillow? Whatever. Unashamed of our unshowered and jammy-clad state at two o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, we greet PCS with a warm hug. We’re eager to catch up and talk about what lies ahead over coffee and a Danish.
To the newcomer, PCS may present like an intrusive mother-in-law who shows up unannounced and bursting with unsolicited parenting advice 36-hours after she gives birth. Super. And then there’s the littles to consider. Comfortable and gaining momentum at long last, now they’re being extracted from a trusted community of neighbors, besties, schoolmates and teammates. Sure, the PCS inevitability factor was always there, but what good is that right now?
Beginners and experts alike, we get it. Managing a PCS with kids in tow can challenge the sharpest, most enterprising among us. Take a deep breath, adjust your crown, then “let it go” like Elsa, queens. We’re here to share the PCS advice we wanted way back when. Ready or not, you and yours got this!
1. The Paperwork Shuffle
It’s a dynamic maneuver experienced mil-spouses know better than most. The definitive tell-all of your child’s academic, social-emotional, and extracurricular history, the paperwork shuffle is an information exchange between parents and a new school. If you’re new to the process, it’s worth noting your child’s former school may or may not forward records to the new institution. When forwarding services are available, a best practice is to follow up early, often, and confirm delivery. Accountability is critical.
Parents of differently-abled learners, we see you.
Outfitted with a culture and language all its own, Special Education differs greatly from its General Education counterpart. To ensure the smoothest transition possible, contact your new school’s Special Education resource teacher early on. Children require closure when faced with life-changing events—this is especially true of unique learners. Has your student formed close relationships with his or her paraeducators or Special Education teachers? If so, enlist their help in the departure process. More likely than not, they’ll have the tools and the insight to help your kid ride the wave of change. Visit Military OneSource for a branch-wide index of information on Special Education services provided by DoDEA and DDESS.
Esteemed progenitors of high schoolers, high five on getting your teen this far!
To those not in the know, the way your student’s high school credits will be evaluated by the new school is a big deal. A 1:1 credit transfer may or may not be possible depending on differences in school curriculum and program structure. Installation School Liaison Officers are sages in identifying and solving academic barriers to success.
Before you PCS, we strongly recommend obtaining complete hard copies of your child’s school, medical, dental, and mental health records. Doing so can help avoid or remedy possible setbacks later. Pro-tip: keep all records with you and out of reach from the PCS movers. It’s happened to the best of us, momma.
2. Military Life 101
Healthy relationships are rooted in open, productive communication. This is especially true between military families and civilian educators. While nearly 80% of military children attend public schools, most civilian educators are unfamiliar with military life and its impact on minor dependents. Informing your child’s teacher of exceptional or extenuating circumstances can help bridge that gap. Deployment, divorce, and other challenging family dynamics can profoundly influence a child’s behavior and performance both socially and academically. Providing valuable context helps a teacher differentiate instruction and adapt to your child’s emotional needs.
Growing up as a military kid also has a wealth of merits and opportunities! Be mindful to include aspects of military life your child appreciates and flourishes in. Idea: invite your student to take agency in the transfer process. It can be an empowering exercise!
military kids rock. encourage your buttercup to speak up!
- The adventures of a military kid can knock the socks off even the coolest cat in class.
- Young jet-setters, prepare to blow your classmates’ minds. It’s time to bust out your most epic trip yet!
- The only thing cooler than multi-cultural diversity is encouraging it. Spotlight your stellar pals around the globe.
- Military life is steeped in tradition. The class will be delighted to learn which ones your daughter adores.
- Got a shy kiddo? Let his or her favorite pics of military life do the talking, and let the peer buy-in begin!
3. Find Your Village
Experience developed through multiple moves, deployments, and hardships unnumbered makes a strong case for friends becoming the family we choose. Going it alone can only carry one so far for so long. The sooner you take to the task of finding your village, the sooner you’ll thrive within your new community. Discouraged? You have our hearts. Gravitate toward character, not convenience, and refrain from judging a book by its cover. Your new best friend may come from a walk of life entirely different than yours. Go with it!
FYI: life exists off-post
Involving yourself in civilian causes and activities creates greater space for growth and wingspan. As proud as we are to support our service members, we are more than military spouses, parents, and dependents. Be diligent in your efforts to cultivate an identity independent of military life. None of us come out unscathed. Time you invest in your self-care today will be the very thing that keeps you standing when life is indescribably difficult later. Seriously.
Finally, leverage the power of social media to your advantage!
Most any institution worth your time has a social media presence. But start small—we’re striving for quality over quantity. Your kid’s new school, your faith community, athletic leagues, or creative hobby circles are solid starting points. Keep in mind that while the PCS process and starting over can feel overwhelming, fully investing in it is time and energy well spent. So, give yourself some grace. Take heart in the stripes you’ll earn throughout this experience. After this PCS, you’re a novice no more! Way to hustle and flow like a boss, momma.
Got tips? Dazzle us with your wit, wisdom, and favorite PCS hacks in the comments below!
Know a mil-spouse knee-deep in PCS? Do her a solid. Share this article along with our VA Homebuyer Toolkit complete with a free printable PCS checklist and binder builder!