April is the month designated each year as the Month of the Military Child.
Started in 1986 by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, the commemoration celebrates the important role military kids play within their community. It’s a time to recognize the unique sacrifices and challenges they face on a daily basis.
Ideas for celebrating
Military children are strong, resilient and deserving of recognition. Communities are encouraged to plan special events and celebrations throughout the month of April and to “Purple Up! for military kids” by wearing purple on Friday, April 21, 2017.
I am personally challenging each of you to wear purple on the 21st and encourage you to share pictures of you and your office using #PurpleUp. A few ways you can celebrate and recognize the military children in your community include:
- Make purple T-shirts announcing Month of the Military Child and include your brokerage information on them.
- Decorate your office with purple flyers, ribbons and balloons.
- Volunteer at a local school to read books for military children or hold a story time at your office. I’ve found a few reading suggestions here, but also check with the school and your local library for suggestions on books for each age group.
- Host a “Kids Open House” at a local park and provide purple treats or military themed activities. You can recognize military kids and meet parents who may be in the market for a home nearby.
Don’t limit yourself to these ideas, get creative! Please share pictures and stories of how you are showing your appreciation throughout the month.
A unique challenge for military children
One of the unique challenges military children face are frequent relocations that come with a parent being on active duty.
According to Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), the average military child will move six to nine times during a school career. That’s three times more frequently than non-military families.
“For most military children, this is not their first change of station, school and new set of friends. If an agent acknowledges these factors, it helps the child better embrace the move,” according to James A. Roy, the 16th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.
Real estate agents are uniquely positioned to have a positive impact on military children’s lives during a relocation. I recently asked a group of real estate agents on my Facebook page to share their tips. Here’s how they help military children transition into their community:
Relate through shared experiences
Julie Smart Koob, an agent with Napier Realtors ERA in Colonial Heights, Virginia said: “As a mom of two, and spouse of a retired soldier, I always let the parents know I’ve been in their shoes. I now have a college freshman and high school sophomore, plus we’ve been in the same spot for nine years. I’m aware through personal experience of many activities in the Fort Lee area, and if my children weren’t involved in the activity on which they need information, I have a vast resource of moms and dads who are happy to speak with them for insight!”
Discover and cater to interests
Inquire about the children’s interests and activities, suggested Kenneth H Rogers Jr. a broker associate at BHHS Florida Properties Group in St. Petersburg, Florida. “Then prepare information packets specific to [their] needs and plan opportunities to visit points of interest when they are in town touring homes if possible.”
Lisa Pursley is an agent with Weichert Realtors, On-Site Associates in North Carolina. She suggests sharing ways your community serves children. “Helping parents by giving them resources such as knowing the Armed Services YMCA has low-cost school-aged programs, hooking up moms with local MOP’s groups, knowing what alternatives there are to the public school systems in the area, shining light on local youth groups, and being understanding to the stresses of relocation with small children.”
Make kids feel a part of big decisions
James A. Roy also suggests including the children in the home selection. “A military child is going to be very interested in the school, whether or not there are other military children in the community and how they will fit in. Our children were always excited about a new location and it helped to have open communication with them about the process.”
As a real estate agent you have an opportunity to celebrate and recognize military children in your community by taking part in the month-long celebration.
But don’t stop on April 30th. Find ways you can welcome military kids into your community throughout the year.