By Amanda Huffman
Guest Blogger

Moving creates so many different areas of stress — one of these areas of stress can be getting settled into a new school. Depending on PCS cycles and how quickly you arrive and find a home before a new school year begins, it can be stressful to gather all the needed paperwork to register or to sign up for extracurricular or special programs.

Last year we moved from Virginia to California. In May, long before we arrived, I saw that deadlines for the hybrid education program, part in person and part at home, I was considering were closing. I didn’t know where we would live or how convenient the program would be to attend. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to do it because I just found it via Google.  I reached out to explain our situation, I got a generic response that this was their process. I later found out that the spots hadn’t been filled and that they could have worked with us and our situation but instead chose to pressure us to sign up when we weren’t ready. 

This pressure to commit, plus the lack of empathy for our situation, led me to choose public school. While I thought  enrolling in public school t would be the easier option, it turned out that getting the correct paperwork together was more difficult than expected. Because of COVID regulations, meeting in person wasn’t an option, so we had many back-and-forth emails with school officials. All the while I had to try  to find all the correct documentation with  our stuff in storage. And I was working from a phone, without a way to scan documents, making it even more challenging.  Luckily, I had already scanned medical documents, such as shot records and allergy reports, so I could easily send them in. And I was able to work with our real estate agent to get all the documents to prove our residency requirements to enroll. 

I didn’t feel anyone I was working with understood the challenge I was facing. In the end, it took many emails to get everything straightened out just days before the new school year started. 

Once I had all the paperwork completed, things started to fall into place. We learned that class assignments were given out the day before school and we were able to attend the orientation so the kids would know where to go the first day. I also shared with the school counselor that our kids had just moved across the country and might have a hard time adjusting. 

It took my oldest (fourth grade) some time to start building friendships. Overall, the school year was good but also challenging. We took it one day at a time, discussed  the challenges he faced, and looked at all our options to see if continuing with public school was the best path forward. 

It is important when you send your kids to  school that teachers and support staff know your kids’ situation, including if you moved recently. They might not understand all the emotions and challenges your kids are feeling, but hopefully making them aware of their situation will help.  

Even if the teachers don’t give time and grace to your kids as they adjust, make sure that you do. I spent a lot of time the first few months of school talking to my kids about their new life in a new place. We went on walks, sat at the kitchen table, and checked in. I shared about how the adjustment was going for me, the good and the bad. And they were open and shared about how things were going for them. 

Getting settled in a new school takes time. It was much harder for my fourth grader to find friends than it was for my first grader. Remember that you can always adjust and try something new if things are not working. But be sure to give yourself and your kids at least eight weeks to adjust to your new normal. 

Over time, more days were good than bad. We started to find a rhythm that worked for us. And now, a year later, we are counting down the days to the next school year and the fun that is to come.

Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Serviceis the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more. 

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