Mastering Back to School

Making a Smooth Transition After a PCS Move

We all know military families move around a lot – three times more often than civilians. We also know that summer is the busiest time of the year for PCS moves and military relocation. Moving across the country is never easy for kids, and it presents another challenge once summer vacation is over and kids get ready to start at a new school.

That transition can sometimes be rough – starting a new routine and going to a place they’re not familiar with, where they don’t know anyone. It can make for a lonely start to the school year. But your kids are resilient – they’re military strong. So here’s how you can help them make the transition a breeze.


The first few days are critical. Here’s what you can work on:

  • Stabilize: the most important thing is to stay upbeat and maintain a positive attitude, while keeping an eye on your child’s emotions. Kids often draw strength from stable parent figures, but it’s a fine line because you don’t want to deny what they’re feeling either. The best things you can do are listen and empathize with what they’re going through. A little support goes a long way when they’re talking about what’s worrying them.
  • Be there: set aside more time than normal to spend with your kids as needed. That could mean helping out with their homework, going out to a movie, or even just sitting down to a family dinner. Simply being available can help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Rest and relaxation: don’t forget the importance of getting enough sleep. You’re going to be busy, but setting a bedtime and sticking to it can help you make sure your kids are rested and ready to face each day.
  • Establish a routine: from waking up in the morning to family breakfast time; walking to school to meeting them out front when the day’s over; homework time to dinner to leisure time. Setting the groundwork for a positive and happy routine early on can help a lot.


You’ve survived the first few days of school, hopefully without too much drama. A little due diligence can help put the transition behind you.

  • Make adjustments: however things are going, it’s important to meet with teachers and administrators and work with them. Guidance counselors and school psychologists can also help, especially for military kids who’ve gone through some unique experiences.
  • Help them find new friends: your kid may not realize it, but organized sports or other group activities like the Scouts are a great way to make new friends without even trying. It could be an after-school program or even setting up playdates with other parents. There are lots of things you can do as a parent to put them into positive social situations where friendships can develop naturally.


You’re the rock of the family, but it’s also important to take time to handle your own worries and concerns. Back-to-school expenses can add up quickly and if you’re not careful, it can add extra stress to the mix. As prepared as you may be, you could still be spending money here and there throughout the first month of the school year. 

Wondering how you can shop smarter? Check out these shopping tips and learn how to leverage military discounts, price matching, and free services and resources available to military families across the globe.

Jake Butler

About the author: Jake Butler

Jake Butler is a staff writer at Pioneer Services who understands the challenges facing modern military families. He writes informative and entertaining pieces about military life, financial education and everything in between. Follow Jake on Google+.

Contact: Jake Butler


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