Helping Your Child Thrive through a Military Permanent Change of Station (PCS)

7 min to read
A military mother is helping her daughter take notes

When you have to move, it affects the whole family. While it takes energy for you to get settled into a new home and routine, your children need also to settle into a new routine and a new school. According to the Department of Defense Educational Partnership Branch, the average child in a military family will move six to nine times during a school career. That’s an average of three times more frequently than nonmilitary families.

While many kids are resilient and bounce back from a move both socially and academically, some kids may require more advance planning to create positive feelings about having to move.

Acknowledge Your Child’s Feelings about a Move

Your child may be sad, scared, angry, or a combination of some or all of these emotions. Be prepared to listen. Acknowledge those feelings, and reassure your child that you will always be there for him or her—wherever you move to.

Visit Your New Home

If possible, take your child to visit your new home, neighborhood, and school. If you will 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. Google Maps allows you to travel the world and gain a sense of familiarity.

Allow Your Child to Make Some Decisions

As much as possible, give your child some choices along the way. Whether it’s a choice about new room decor, what items to take or give away, or which friends to keep in touch with, empowering your child may go a long way toward smoothing the path ahead.

Connect with Other Military Families

Connect with a military sponsor, a service member who has a similar rank and family status as you who can help you get settled in your new location. This allows you to plug right into a support network and even pave the way to new friendships for your child.

One aspect of moving that causes children a lot of stress is starting at a new school. You know if you have an outgoing child who can thrive in any situation or if you have a child who needs more hand-holding. Online school can make a move because of a military change of station a bit more stable. Here’s why:

  1. It’s mobile. You can be anywhere in the world that has internet access, and your child can log in from the comfort and safety of home to complete school at his or her grade level and with age-level peers. And because this is a public school, it is completely tuition-free.
  2. Online school offers continuity. Online school is available for children in grades K–12. So no matter where you live, if you stick with the same online school, your child can continue his or her education with a sense of continuity.
  3. It is a public school education. Online school offers a free public school education. The curriculum is approved by your local school district and provides the same education that children in your local public school are getting, including the same performance-based testing.
  4. There is no loss of performance or results. A February 2019 Pearson study 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. View the results of the study here.
  5. There is the opportunity for more parental involvement. Online school gives you an active role and transparency into coursework, progress, and grades. As a Learning Coach, you or a spouse can work directly with your child, helping him or her with lessons. As needed, you or your child can reach out to the teacher with questions or for additional help. If your spouse is deployed, he or she can access a child’s lessons, learning materials, and grades as easily as logging in to the learning platform

Whether you choose a traditional school or an online school is really dependent on your situation and the needs of your child.

To learn how you can be more involved in your children’s education with more opportunities to provide meaningful input, visit the website for Connections Academy online public school. Or to learn about online private school, visit Pearson Online Academy ’s website.

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