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I Was An Air Force Brat And These Are My Tips For Military Parents Who Move A Lot

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What strategies do military parents have for handling mid-year moves with a child in elementary school?

I moved and changed schools 9 times growing up.

I was at a small private kindergarten, then was moved to a different kindergarten at a big-city public elementary school. After kindergarten, I ended up at a first grade in a big city suburban elementary. Then in mid-first grade I went to a very small overseas military base elementary school.

After second grade, my family moved and I went to a large overseas military base high school. I was there until after fourth grade, when I began attending a small US public elementary school next to a military base. For seventh and eighth grade I went to a small town junior high school. I then was at a small town junior high school for ninth grade, before finally settling at the same town’s high school.

The main strategy is for parents to set a positive, constructive example. Be excited and optimistic. Get the kid involved. Make the experience an adventure, to be enjoyed. The first tactic is to manage the calendar as much as possible. It’s to move as close as possible to the mid-year hiatus. A smooth move is important, so that housing move-in and packing/unpacking are minimal disruptions.

father and toddler crawling in playground
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Military people are a highly mobile sub-population, and it is possible that children will find old acquaintances wherever they move. This can be good or bad, of course. Often, the school you’re leaving will know who else has moved to your destination; ask your child about these potential “old friends.”

Children of civilian residents of a town will often have classmates with whom they started schools, and will have seen more mobile kids move away. They will have no understanding of or appreciation for living abroad or in other parts of the USA. It can be useful to use sports, youth activities, religious interests and business contacts to help children get plugged in to the local community.

When the destination school is associated with the base where your military member is assigned and where you will be living, the process is easier. Kids can talk with those they meet about where they’ve lived and whom they know in common.

Jim Gordon served in the military like his father and grandfather before him. He mainly grew up on air bases. Read more from Quora below: