Preparing for back-to-school is a crazy time for any family, but when a military family has to balance kids going back to school along with deployments, moving, and all the other responsibilities of military life, things can get overwhelming fast — even if you’re considering virtual learning.

1. Submit Documentation Early

If your military kid is attending a new school this coming semester, check the school’s website or call their office to figure out what paperwork is required for your child to complete their registration. Birth certificates, current immunizations, proof of residence, report cards from their previous school, Social Security Numbers, and physical exam reports are all documents that could be required.

2. Help Yourself (and Your Kids) Stay Organized

The more organized you can be at the beginning of the school year, the easier it will be to stay organized throughout the year. Give your kids a dedicated space to store their school supplies and do their homework, especially if they’re enrolled in online schooling. This could be in their bedroom or you could create a dedicated school room in your home if there’s space available.

3. Check Out Books on Bases from Blue Star Families

A great back-to-school resource for your military kids is Books on Bases, created by Blue Star Families. In collaboration with Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), this program is designed to positively impact military children through the love of reading. Books are donated to military children, Department of Defense schools, base libraries, and military-impacted public schools to help military kids gain access to reading material.

4. Use Your Military Discounts

When shopping for back-to-school supplies, costs can add up quickly. Don’t hesitate to ask about military discounts at checkout—or even look up different store policies and what military discounts are offered before you make your choice of where to shop.

5. Start School Routines Early

Summer break is an amazing time for your kids to relax, sleep in, and just have fun. However, the transition back into a school routine can be harsh if you don’t work with your kids to slowly adjust their schedule. Throughout the week or two prior to the first day of school, wake your kids up earlier or have them start setting their alarms rather than letting them sleep in to get them used to their new morning routine. You should also review their daily schedules with them to see when they’ll have breaks or lunch. For younger kids, start sitting down for lunch at their scheduled time to get them ready for when they’ll be allowed to eat during the school day.

6. Update Emergency Contacts

Double check that your school has up-to-date information for at least two emergency contacts. If you just moved to a new area and need additional emergency contacts, knock on some neighbors’ doors — especially if they also have children — and start getting to know them rather than leaving emergency contact information blank on school forms.

7. Get the Resources Your Child Needs

If you need help getting necessary school supplies for your children, there are organizations out there that are willing to provide resources. Operation Homefront Back-to-School Brigade sources back-to-school supplies for military families in need by collecting donations of backpacks, notebooks, paper, pencils, pens, markers, calculators, and more.

8. Meet the Teachers

Getting to know your kids’ teachers not only provides peace of mind, but also helps educators better understand how to help your child be successful. By keeping teachers in the know of any situations that may affect your student’s behavior or academic performance, they’re better able to adapt their approach and give your student the right support. These situations can include academic struggles, health concerns, and big events for military families deployments, homecomings, and PCS moves.

9. Pay Attention to Your Kids’ Social Life

While many kids have an incredible ability to make friends wherever they go, sometimes transitioning to a new school or preparing for back-to-school can be difficult for children. Keep an eye on your kids’ social calendar and get them involved in local clubs or sports to help facilitate making friends outside of the classroom. You can also encourage them to stay connected with friends at their old schools by setting up Facetime playdates or writing letters to one another.

10. Establish Family Time

When school starts up again, it’s easy for everyone’s schedules to go in different directions. Be sure to set time aside during the week to bond as a family, whether it’s family dinners, reading together before bed, or Friday movie nights.

Preparing for back to school in advance can help you and your kids get started on the right foot this school year. What tips and tricks help you prepare your kids for going back to school? Share them with other MilSpouses on the SpouseLink Facebook page!

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