How to Help Your Child Adjust to a New School After a PCS

Kathryn Sneed

How to Help Your Child Adjust to a New School After a PCS

My family recently finished with our first PCS. After six years, we were more then ready for our trip across the country and now we love our new home. However, one of my biggest concerns about our PCS was that it was in the middle of the school year.

My son was attending a special needs preschool at our last duty station, but when we moved we ended up arriving at the end of the school year at our new duty station. I decided to keep my son home instead of sending him to a new school for only a few weeks, and instead I started preparing him for his Kindergarten year starting at the end of August.

Since my son has autism we wanted to start helping him adjust to the thought of a new school ahead of time. Here are several tips any family can use to help a child adjust to your new school after a PCS!

4 Ways to Help Your Child Adjust to a New School

1. Visit the School by Yourself First
Before school was out for the summer, I went by myself to visit my son's new school. It was perfect because I had time to wait and I was able to fill out paperwork without my son getting restless. I was able to meet a lot of the teachers and staff, take a tour of the classrooms, and find out more about the school. Since my son was not there I was able to ask all of my questions, and explain a little bit about my son's needs. This plan was such a lifesaver! I knew what to expect ahead of time and I was able to go back and tell my son about his school and get him excited about going.

2. Take Your Child to Visit the School
A few weeks after I visited the school, they asked me if my son wanted to come take a tour and meet some the teachers. I loved the idea and thought this would be a great opportunity to help him get ready for his new school. We went by one afternoon and one of the directors of the special needs program there walked us around and gave us the full tour. My son loved it. He had been nervous about going, and I could tell he missed his old school because he talked about it a lot, but the tour was a great idea.

We saw the classrooms, the art and music room, the gym, the cafeteria, the library and we met a lot of teachers and some other kids his age too! He got to see who would be doing the art, music, and gym classes and met one of the counselors there as well.

3. Talk to Your Child's Teachers
Before school starts, talk with your child's teachers. Tell them a little bit about your child, and let them know of any concerns you might have. Let them know your family just PCS'd and that your child is still adjusting to a new home and new city.
One great tip I received was this: "Before you PCS, ask your child's teachers to write a letter to the teachers at your child's new school. Have them write about your child's strengths and weaknesses, and how everything was being dealt with." This is so much more personal than the typical school file and it lets your child's new teachers know ahead of time to give your child some grace while they are still adjusting.

4. Let Your Child Bring a Familiar Item With Them
For the first day of school, let your child bring a familiar item with them to school. Maybe it's the backpack they used last year or picture of your family taped to the inside of their notebook. Be creative, but finding something familiar for them to take to school is a great way to make them feel comfortable in new place.

Kathryn Sneed is a Christian military wife and mother to two special needs kids. She blogs about marriage, motherhood, and military life at and loves spending time with friends and going on date nights with her husband!


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