5 Ways to Help Kids Through a Military Change of Station

4 min to read
A military mother is helping her child take notes

Moving to a new home can be a major disruption and transition for the entire family—and one of the biggest challenges is getting your children settled into their new place and routine. For military families who experience a change of station often, this is especially difficult. 

The average child in a military family moves six to nine times throughout their school career, according to the Department of Defense Educational Partnership Branch. While many kids are resilient and bounce back from a move both socially and academically, some may require more advance planning to create positive feelings about having to move. Below are some tips to help the permanent change of station transition happen more smoothly for your family.

1. Acknowledge Your Child’s Feelings About the Move

Big feelings may come up for your child when you’re getting ready to move. They may feel sad, scared, angry, or a combination of these emotions. Help your child feel safe to express themselves and be prepared to listen. Acknowledge and validate their feelings by helping them to feel seen, heard, and understood, and that’s it’s OK to talk about what they feel. This can help them feel better about the current move and help them develop stronger emotional intelligence in the long run.

2. Visit Your New Home

A change of station for kids can bring about a lot of uncertainty. To help your child feel more comfortable, take them to visit your new home, neighborhood, and school if possible. Explore your new area together and pick out some potential favorite spots. If you are going to be stationed far away or overseas and it’s not possible to visit, you could try to calm your child’s nerves or generate excitement about the move by visiting your new town online. By simply looking up your new home, you can explore nearby parks, playgrounds, libraries, restaurants, ice cream shops, and more.

3. Allow Your Child to Make Some Decisions

Moving to a new place can make your child feel like they have very little control over their environment, resulting in more anxious feelings. To appease this, try to give your child some choices along the way. Whether it’s choosing new décor for their bedroom, what items to take or give away, or which friends they want to keep in touch with, these seemingly little decisions can go a long way in helping your child feel empowered and smoothing the path to your new future.

4. Connect With Other Military Families

There are many resources for military families experiencing a permanent change of station, including in-person support groups and online support networks. The National Resource Directory and Military OneSource can help you find support groups in your new area. Each branch of the military also has Family Readiness Groups that provide a forum for developing friendships and sharing experiences and information. Connecting with folks in a similar situation can help you feel more settled in your new community and can lead to strong friendships for everyone in the family.

5. Consider Enrolling Your Kids in Online School

Starting a new school can be one of the most stressful aspects of moving for kids. However, enrolling in an online school can make these transitions for miliary families a bit easier. Some reasons online school may be a good fit for your family include:

  • It’s mobile. You can be anywhere in the world with internet access and your child can log in to complete school with age-level peers.

  • Online school offers continuity. Online school is available for children in grades K–12. No matter where you live, your child can continue his or her education with a stronger sense of continuity than if they were enrolled in in-person schools.

  • There is less risk of learning disruption. A study conducted by Pearson in 2019 compared the performance of similar populations of students in traditional brick-and-mortar schools and online schools who have moved over their academic careers. The study found that online students did just as well as children in traditional schools in math and reading.  

  • There is the opportunity for more parental involvement. Online school allows parents and caregivers to take an active role in their child’s coursework, progress, and grades as a Learning Coach. Even deployed parents can access their child’s lessons, learning materials, and grades easily by logging into the learning platform. 

Choosing the right school depends on both your child’s needs and your family situation. To learn more, download our free eGuide or take the quiz to discover if online school is the right choice for you.

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