Back-to-school: SLO can help with transition

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- The School Liaison Officer serves as Malmstrom’s point-of-contact for all local military child education matters. As an advocate for the educational needs of military children, the SLO assists Airmen and their families with information, referral, resources and advocacy regarding the Great Falls Public School District, outlying public schools, private schools and homeschooling options.

The SLO also ensures a smooth transition for families with school-age children inbound to Malmstrom or outbound to another location.

Whether families are new to Malmstrom or their military-connected students will be starting a new grade level and/or school, with the start of the 2018-2019 school year just around the corner, the Malmstrom SLO offers the following advice to parents:

It is recommended that parents do their homework! Prior to the start of school, make an effort to find out some basic information about what awaits your child at his/her school. Get information on the daily schedule, meals and snacks, transportation, safety rules, even protocols for outdoor recess. If possible, visit the school and your child’s new classroom together. An introduction to his/her new teacher might even be possible, and highly recommended.

For military-connected students in all grades, Great Falls Public Schools will host an Information and Registration Fair at Loy Elementary School Aug. 10, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Many of the personnel supporting GFPS will be present to answer questions from food service to transportation.

Great Falls Public Schools’ first day of school this year is Wednesday, Aug. 29. Over the summer students schedules are more flexible and their focus is generally not on aspects of school, like studying, homework and tests, or getting out of bed at a designated time.

We recommend you ease your family into a school year schedule. The first day of school is no time for a drastic adjustment of household sleep schedules. Instead, ease children back into a school year routine gradually. During the last two weeks of summer, re-introduce a school year bedtime. Begin waking late sleepers earlier and earlier, closer to the hour they'll need to rise when school begins.

Don't neglect mealtimes. Younger children in particular need to adapt to new meal routines before the school day demands it of them. Plan meals and snacks to accustom children to rituals of the school day before the school year begins.

Have you decided how your child will get to school? The first day of school is no time to find out it takes ten minutes, not five, to walk to the nearest bus stop. Before school begins, make a practice run to get children to school on time. If they'll walk, help them learn the route they'll take and note the needed time. Carpooling? Make sure the dry run accounts for early-morning traffic.

Bus riders will need to be familiar with the location of the bus stop; print and post the bus schedule to prevent a missed bus. Don’t forget to address transportation safety rules and revisit these often.

Routines help us to know what to expect every day, they help us prepare for the next day, and they help everyone stay organized as well as prepare children for the future. Children may balk at the prospect of returning to school in the fall, but they’ll soon get back into the swing of things. Before you know it, with a good routine, your home will be running smoothly.

For questions or concerns related to educational issues or common stresses that might be affecting your child’s educational opportunities, contact Malmstrom’s SLO at the Airman and Family Readiness Center located in Building 800, or call 731-4900.
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