Military parents can feel like they have little control when it comes to their military child’s life. Military kids are used to relocating and starting over, but how can parents set them up for success?
One way to smooth the Permanent Change of Station (PCS) process for military kids is to put in the work ahead of time to help them fit into school at their new location. Meg Flanagan, a Marine Corps spouse, teacher and education advocate, shared her best tips on an episode of PCS with Military.com. Here is some of her advice.
Build an education file or binder for your child. Just like you compile a PCS binder full of information and important documents for your move, build a digital binder for your child’s education records, Flanagan advised. The older your student is, the more robust the file will be. If your child has special education plans, the digital binder is the perfect place to store that, too.
“Build a digital version for your kid for their education stuff, report cards, education plans, latest testing scores, state or specialized testing, reference letters, notes about things, cool projects they've done, and bring it with you to the school,” she said.
By using a cloud-based service, like Google Drive, you easily can share individual documents as needed, or simply share the entire folder, she said.
Collect reference letters from their sending schools, programs and teams. Older students can encounter barriers when looking to join a sports team at a new school, especially midyear. But no matter the age of the students, Flanagan suggested collecting reference or introduction letters for them. Those can easily be passed onto the new teachers or coaches, she said.
“Big-city high schools are 3,000 kids at a high school. How are you going to get your kid onto the coveted soccer team or football team when there are approximately one bajillion children trying out for those two open spots?” she said. “You're going to get them their reference letters. Because why would they take an unknown quantity? [If] your kid comes in with ‘check out this video, check out this reference letter,’ now they have that, plus their in-person interaction with you at the end at the open tryouts.”
Interview prospective teachers. Flanagan said parents can and should contact teachers at their prospective schools to learn if the school or classroom is the right fit for their child.
“They are waiting for your email; they want you to email,” she said. “Because the more people that like us, like military families, the more word of mouth grows about how great their school is, or how great their school system is, and then suddenly, they have more students, which means potentially more money, which means their school gets more awesome.”
Flanagan said setting that framework lets the school know that you aren’t just interested in your child’s education -- you’re actively participating.
“In starting off that way, by interviewing the school, that means that your name and your kids name are already on their radar,” he said. “Being an involved and active parent actually works in your favor, a parent who can walk the line of, ‘I'm a supportive parent. I want information about my kid. I want to know what's happening at school.’”
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