Help Your Military Child Navigate & Jump In!!
Moving to a new community can be stressful, especially for children. Making new friends, enrolling in a new school, and living in a new home can all add stress to a child's life. Military children experience these stressors at least every three years-- if not more. Helping your military child navigate their new community can be tough, but finding ways to jump in and get involved in their new home helps ease the transition.
No matter the age, a new place brings changes. Involving your child in a club at your new duty station gives them a good venue to cope with the change. They are able to make new friends, find peers with like interests, and make a positive change in their community. Clubs
such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, FFA, Young Marines, school groups like ROTC, speech, and debate, or student council, and faith-based clubs through your church are all good avenues to look into in your community. They are often available at many posts, both CONUS and OCONUS, which can provide some sense of structure during PCS time and give the child something to look forward to at their new location.
Many bases and communities offer sports programs as well. Many beginning as young as three, and ranging through their teen years. These programs typically include soccer, cheer, basketball, and softball/baseball. The SKIES Unlimited program (check on military.com to find SKIES opportunities specific to your location) is another great military family program that offers a variety of youth programs ranging from sports and music lessons to horseback riding lessons and dance classes. Check with your base community service and family center to learn about the specific SKIES programs offered at your location.
Get Out There!
If you are making the transition with toddlers, involvement can be hard! Check for local social media pages at your base geared towards mothers in the area. These are great venues to learn about local play-dates and get-togethers with other military toddler parents. Locations like libraries (on and off post), and the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) also offer social times for toddlers, like playgroups and storytime. These are also great ways to meet other parents. Children who see their parents socializing are more apt to be comfortable in a social situation, and more likely to freely jump in and introduce themselves. Lastly, get outside! Local parks are great places to let the children play off some energy and make friends.
Involving your kids in their community is a positive thing for children, and helps ease the transition to a new duty station. Even when it seems scary, jump in! You and your kids will not regret planting some deeper roots in your community, and getting involved to make the best of each place you get to call home!