Change is nothing unusual when you’re in a military family. Not only does it come with the territory, it’s pretty much the norm.
But with the new academic year here, the change children are about to experience is unlike what many – military or otherwise – have encountered before. Due to the novel coronavirus, school boards, administrators, and faculty nationwide are faced with a tough call: Hold in-person classes as usual this fall, opt for remote learning or find some combination of the two? Parents are largely split on this choice, with 36% wanting full-time in-person instruction, while 28% prefer their kids taking classes entirely online, according to a recent poll conducted by Gallup. Those in favor of remote learning is up sharply from 7% of respondents when the same survey was performed earlier this summer.
In some ways, military children have an advantage over their peers, as they are likely familiar with adapting to new situations. However, if they need some help adjusting to the new normal – as so many others across the nation do – here are a few strategies to help them thrive in school this fall.
With time, patience and perseverance, this most unusual school year could turn out to be your child’s favorite, or at the very least, their most memorable.
1. Speak to them directly about how they’re feeling
Kids are incredibly aware of what’s going on in the world, likely much more so than many people realize. Nevertheless, it’s important to talk to them about what’s happening so they know what to expect, according to Military One Source. Stress is a normal part of beginning a new school year, but given the present situation, those feelings may be amplified. Let them know that it’s more than alright to be a bit apprehensive; in fact, it’s normal.
Try to be as reassuring as possible and emphasize the fact that they can come to you for anything whenever they need it. This can provide a sense of calm and comfort to know that everything will turn out for the best.
2. Inquire about extracurricular activities
A great strategy to help your children experience some normalcy is through diversions that help keep their minds off of everything that’s going on. Extracurricular activities are a great way to do that.
As MilitaryByOwner.com suggested, even if your children aren’t especially athletic or have any hobbies that you’re aware of, encourage them to step outside their comfort zone and try something they find interesting or that could be enjoyable. Whether it’s intramurals, chess club, or a volunteer program, signing up for these types of activities keeps them engaged and will allow them to form friendships.
It’s possible that some of the activities that would typically be held this time of year may not be due to COVID-19. However, many schools are offering safer alternatives or plan to do so later in the year. Be sure to speak to an administrator to see what, if anything, the school is doing differently this year in light of social distancing measures.
3. Help them embrace change
Some people are naturally more resistant to change than others. After all, it can be very uncomfortable to be placed in a new position where nothing is familiar.
You know your child best, but if they are averse to change, do your best to impress upon them that it is part of life and is something everyone encounters. More than that, though, change is empowering because it brings challenges that make us stronger and more experienced. In other words, emphasize all the positives that come with stepping outside their comfort zone.
4. Establish or renew back-to-school traditions
From Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas and more, traditions are a great way to reconnect and celebrate. But you don’t need a holiday to plan an event that’s fun and enjoyable. If your budget allows for it, make back-to-school shopping something you do with the kids every year. This is not only a great way to bond and make lasting memories, but it’s something they’ll be able to look forward to. After all, it’s always fun to buy new items, whether it’s clothing, school supplies, books, or electronics.
Additionally, as noted by Military OneSource, your school almost certainly has a list of items your children need before the academic year begins. Be sure to check, as it may list some things that are different this year due to the effects of COVID-19.
5. Expect some transition time
Wouldn’t it be great if everything always went smoothly? The truth is, life has a way of putting some speed bumps in the road now and then. Transitions can be challenging to deal with, especially if you’ve recently moved and your child really liked the last school they were in.
As MilitaryByOwner.com points out, be sure to remind your child (and yourself) that their new reality may be difficult at first. However, with time, they’ll form new friendships and establish routines that make things feel a lot better. All it takes is time for that to happen.
6. Reach out to the school
It’s safe to say that no one knows your child better than you. Therefore, you likely have a general understanding of what they need to thrive. Talk to the school to see what resources are available so they can more effectively adjust. The Military Times reports that some schools have professionals that are trained specifically in helping military families deal with the transition of entering a new school. See if they have any resources that you might be able to leverage.
With time, patience, and perseverance, this most unusual school year could turn out to be your child’s favorite, or at the very least, their most memorable.
The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. You should consult with a financial professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs.