The USO and SESAME STREET Extend 2013 World Tour to November
Just in time for back-to-school, the USO and Sesame Street extend their World Tour from October 24 to November 18 and add Guam and Hawaii to their eight-country lineup in hopes of helping America's military families. In addition to the expansion of the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families - a free traveling show that focuses on the challenges that affect military families with young children - the organizations are offering tips to military families with kids starting a new school.
According to our friends at the Military Child Education Coalition, kids with parents in the military, move six to nine times during their preschool through high school education. Sesame Street and the USO know that change and relocating can be difficult for a young military child. They also know there are a lot of things children can pack and take with them when they move, but that friends, teachers, and caregivers aren't some of them.
To help get the conversation started and ease this stress, Sesame Street and the USO are bringing their character, Katie - a military child experiencing the stresses of moving as her parents are being transferred to a new duty station - to military installations around the world (including Guam and Hawaii in early November). Since 2008, the tour has taken its message to more than 388,000 troops and military families, and performed 631 shows on 145 military installations in 33 states and 11 countries.
As the school year begins, below are some simple tips to help military families transition to a new environment:
1. Always validate and reassure. Some kids might have trouble accepting unfamiliar people or events. Let them know that this is okay. Try a simple statement like, "Everyone has feelings, just like you." To help them adjust, point out things about the new place that are similar to your previous duty station and help them understand and appreciate the things that are different.
2. Establish an open communication with your child. Talking to your kids is the best way to know how they are feeling. Ask questions and foster an open dialogue where your child feels comfortable telling you that he or she is scared to go to a new school.
3. Sign-up your kids for activities and afterschool programs they find interesting. This is a great way for your child to find peers who have the same interests.
4. Make new friends and keep in touch with old friends. Reassure your child that it's okay to make new friends on base and that he or she can stay in touch with his or her old friends through letters, e-mails and drawing pictures.
5. Talk to school administrators and teachers and let them know about your child's anxieties. They can help pair-up your child with a buddy, who can show your child the ropes and help him or her feel more at home in their new school.
Keeping in touch with friends and family is a difficult task for anybody, but it is especially difficult for military families. Over the years, USO programs like USO Operation Phone Home, United Through Reading's Military Program and USO Photo Book have helped military families and their friends stay connected from all corners of the globe. Likewise, Sesame Workshop regularly provides an array of free resources and innovative tools for military families. Among Sesame Street's most recent resources are FamiliesNearAndFar.org, a bilingual website, and Sesame Street for Military Families mobile application that encourages Elementary school-aged children to express their emotions and to communicate as they undergo challenging military transitions.