Moving over the summer is hard enough. You have a little bit of cushion to get your family back in the swing of things or find a really great school.

Moving off-cycle and mid-school year can really throw a wrench into things. Suddenly, you’ve got a time crunch and need to make all the school decisions right now.

Use this mid-year PCS checklist for MilFams with MilKids to help you stay on track

1. Notify the School

As soon as you have an idea about your moving timeline, let your current school’s front office know. This can give them time to pull and update records for the cumulative¬†files. For students with education plans of any sort, early notification can also help to bump up testing or progress reports.

2. Ask to Check the Records

Use the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to access your child’s permanent records right now. Verify that the correct information is in there, especially absences and grades. This file will follow you to the next school.

Now is also a great time to ask about getting a copy of this file before you PCS. Some schools will charge for copies or labor or both. Asking early can help you either negotiate a lower rate or find an alternative way to hand-carry these documents.

3. Request Recommendations

Older children should do this themselves, especially in high school. For the younger grades, having a parent ask is perfectly fine. Recommendations can take several forms:

  • Professional, Athletic or Collegiate: recommendations specific to a particular set of skills or position/school a student hopes to attend. This type can also be used for students moving to a private school post-PCS.
  • Anecdotal or Narrative: a slightly more informal letter detailing student learning style, current abilities, social skills and other things the next teacher should know. This is great for all students, but especially for students with special or gifted education needs.

4. Start School Research

Finding a new school is no joke. Asking on social media is a step in the right direction, but all of those recommendations can be overwhelming. If you need help focusing, use a school comparison worksheet to compare schools based on their merits and not just on personal recommendations.

Reach out to the School Liaison Officer (SLO) at your new location to get information about the local school districts. Use school ranking websites to check them out virtually. Then actually call or email the school to find out how they might be able to help your child succeed.

5. Build a Binder

It’s super important to hand-carry your child’s educational records and enrollment necessities with you when you PCS. You don’t want that birth certificate stuck in a late shipment!

Instead, create a PCS binder with all of your documents in one place. You should include report cards, any academic testing done within the last two year, education plans, recommendation letters and medical records. If you snagged a copy of your child’s permanent record, add that as well.

6. Enroll ASAP

For a mid-year PCS, it’s ideal to get the kids back in school as soon as humanly possible. Every day they are out of school is a day of knowledge potentially missed and a wider gap.

Gaps in knowledge is an issue for military children everywhere. Putting your child into school sooner rather than later can help to narrow that gap.

Check the school or district website for enrollment information and requirements. Then contact the office to see if they will accept documents in advance, based on your military PCS orders and projected address. Next, get in touch with your current school to share the next school’s information. Your current school should mail, fax or email over your child’s official records free of charge.

7. Breathe

You did it! It might have been a sprint and not a marathon, but you have successfully moved with your school-age child mid-year. There might have been some bumps along the way, but in the end, you have arrived.

What are your best tips for moving off-cycle with school-aged children?

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Meg is a military spouse, teacher, writer, and mom of two MilKids. She is an education blog and coaching/advocacy service focused on military families. Meg's mission is to help families understand and navigate the K-12 world. She provides timely posts, timeless advice, and personal assistance to families with school-aged children. You can find Meg online at megflanagan.com and @MegFlanaganEducation

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