During Month of the Military Child, we celebrate the challenges and opportunities of our military-connected kids. Moving often tops most military kids’ list of challenges. While some military kids rarely move, many military kids move up to nine times during their school years. That’s a lot of change, considering that many Americans don’t even move that many times in a lifetime.
So if a regular PCS move is hard enough, what’s it like to move during the school year?
Last week a new military family moved into our neighborhood. Not just an off-cycle move. A way, way off cycle move. Can you imagine restarting in a new high school in March?
My high school son is friendly, but shy. He was curious about the new family across the street, but not enough to actually introduce himself! He would happily walk around the block to avoid talking to someone new, let alone a teenage girl.
When we (the parents) suggested that the two teens walk to school together, it took some convincing. I reminded my shy boy that this was not a lifetime commitment. It was a fifteen minute walk to school.
“Listen,” I said, “Would you want to walk into a brand new school in March all by yourself? It’s hard, and in a couple of months when we move, you’ll be that new kid again. You’ll want someone to offer to show you where your homeroom is or introduce you to the guys on the team.”
My son gave me a quick kiss goodbye and to my surprise, he walked out the door to be that kid in the neighborhood who welcomes the new kid. Imagine his surprise when he found our new neighbor waiting by the door, anxiously hoping that he would ask her to walk to school.
Now, a week later, we have a new routine and this off-cycle move might have gotten a just little bit easier for one military kid.
(And I suspect they might actually talk to each other on the way to school, too.)
Easy Teen Tips (Whether you’re the “old” kid or the new military kid)
- Introduce yourself. Knowing just one person in a new neighborhood or school can make a huge difference!
- If you’re the new kid, be ready to introduce yourself too! Prepare two or three things you are ready to comfortably share with others.
- Offer to help a new kid find their classes or their way around the neighborhood.
- If you’re the new kid moving mid year, you can offer to help out the next new kid who arrives. (You won’t be new for long!) Many schools have new student sponsor programs. Check to see if your school has one in place.
- Be a lunch buddy. Save a seat for the new military kid at the table so you can be that friendly face in a crowded cafeteria of strangers.
- Asking someone to show you the ropes in the lunch room is always a good idea. If you’re not comfortable asking another teen directly, a teacher or guidance counselor can hook you up with a buddy.
- Be a resource. You know how clubs, homework and sports work at your school, so offer to be a resource, like the teen version of an emergency contact.
- If you’re new, a move is a good time to branch out and explore your interests. Ask your parents to help you find school activities or sports that are open to mid-year arrivals.