Thursday, July 21, 2011

Operation: Education

Next month, my oldest son will attend his sixth elementary school. Something I find to be a little disconcerting. It seems like my definition of “normal” is constantly being modified and adjusted to fit the needs of our three boys.

My husband has served in the US Army for 10 years, and while I consider our brood to be “Army Strong”, adjusting to new schools with each move may be one of the most un-fun parts of the job.  

Some changes have come as the result of orders to relocate, courtesy of Uncle Sam (from school #1 to #2). While other transfers were the product of dissatisfaction with the educational offerings in the local district (three weeks at school #3 then on to school #4).

And if that’s not enough readjustment, the most recent shake-ups were necessitated by my children needing mom nearer while dad was gone (from #4 to #5 were I worked). 

With my career solidly in the education field, keeping them close was feasible. But I realize that isn’t the case for most parents, and it probably won’t always be do-able for me either.

Which led my husband and I to choose a rigorous and close-knit parochial school (#6), where all three boys can attend together. 

Where parents are encouraged to volunteer and participate in the everyday activities, to become part of the family. Where parents are expected to be stakeholders in success.

How I wish I had known about this North Suburban gem two years ago! But things don’t always happen as we plan, or on our schedule.

In the back of my mind is the knowledge that one day the moving trucks will arrive again. And we will continue our story in another town, on a different post. 

Will there be  schools #7, 8, and 9? We’ll cross those bridges when we reach them... but like a true soldier’s wife...
I have accumulated some contingency tips and tricks, just in case.

Tips for Military (or moving) families:

1.    Conduct a thorough search of the new communities you will be arriving in. If possible, tour the school prior to registration to get a feel for the general atmosphere. Sometimes it isn’t feasible to live in a great school district, but sometimes even failing districts have gems.

2.    Check out GreatSchools for the State and National test scores of prospective schools, as well as a run down of private schools.

3.    In the spirit of “Cheers” make sure everyone in your child’s school knows your name. That way, if special opportunities arise your child has a better chance of being included. It will also go a long way in securing some of the best teachers for your children.

4.    Since school hopscotch is a way of life for some of us, keep it fun and as stress free as possible for the kids. Discuss what each school has taught you and quickly join clubs or organization that will help assimilate the family to their new home.

5.    Don’t beat yourself up that your children will have an unconventional schooling experience. There’s always someone who goes against the grain, and sometimes that just so happens to be you!

Have you ever had to move? Have tips of your own?? Post them here :o)