We talk a lot about the resilience of military kids, especially during April, Month of the Military Child. And while it’s true that military children can handle the challenges regularly thrown their way, it’s also true that a PCS move can be difficult for even the most adaptable kid. After all, their entire world changes and they’re forced to start over in every possible way: New home, new location, new schools, new friends, and more.
While we, as military parents, can’t change the reality of an upcoming move, these days, there are more resources than ever to help our kids through it. One of the biggest issues for children of any age during this transition time is getting plugged into their new community.
Check out these resources for military kids, which could help them forge those, oh, so important connections and also make this possibly their best PCS yet!
1. Installation Youth Centers
The first stop for many military families with kids is the installation’s youth center. While each center is different, typical offerings include enrichment programs, before and after school care, summer break activities, sports, gymnasium, game rooms, music rooms, volunteer opportunities, and more.
You may already know that the installation youth centers are affiliated with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, but did you know that military kids can participate for free at any Boys & Girls Club, even if they don’t live on the installation? Geared toward children between the ages of 6 and 18, this program is available for active duty, National Guard, and Reserve children.
The well-regarded 4-H program, through “intentional learning” and positive youth experiences, offers research-based programs and resources to integrate military-connected youth. Some of the areas emphasized are STEM, citizenship, public speaking, healthy living, and more.
4. Youth Sponsorship Program
Designed to help kids feel less alone during and after a move, the Youth Sponsorship Program connects military youth with a peer who can answer questions about the area and school and be a familiar face once they arrive. Youth Sponsor programs are similar to the traditional sponsor programs run by the military, but your child has his or her own contact. The program is often also open to children of DoD civilians. Youth Sponsorship Programs are administered by the installation’s youth or school support services.
Connecting high school students from civilian and military families, MCEC’s Student 2 Student Program provides local students with a chance to practice leadership and interpersonal skills, while giving military related youth the opportunity to make an easier transition into their new school. Started in 2004, the program is now located worldwide. Check MCEC’s site for specific locations.
PCS moves may be inevitable, but with them come the opportunity for military parents to smooth the transition in every way that we can. Wishing you and your children all the best in this next phase!
By Jen McDonald for MilitaryByOwner