It’s no coincidence that the biggest PCS season correlates with summer school break. Therefore, the break is the perfect time to prepare for the new school year or new school system if you’ve just moved to Europe. Here is a quick overview of things you should know about the Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe (DODEA-Europe) system:
The mission of DODEA-Europe is to provide education for authorized dependents of DOD personnel, and for those who qualify (under a space-available, tuition-paying status) as identified and prioritized by the Secretary of Defense. Other requirements also apply, such as the verification of the child’s age at the time of enrollment (Pre-K, kindergarten and first grade), specific immunizations, and pre-qualifying physicals for certain extracurricular activities.
Because of the nature of military movement, dependents can enroll throughout the year. You’ll need specific documents when you enroll, such as military orders, birth certificates, passports and vaccination records. For details about enrollment or vaccinations, you can find eligibility and immunization program information online. School Liaison Officers (SLOs) and Registrars can assist with the enrollment and transition processes. Coordinators through the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) will also assist in enrolling qualifying dependents in special education and disability services.
DODEA-Europe curriculum standards are based on benchmarks set by several national education councils. To find out about required courses, assessment criteria and additional resources visit DODEA.edu and select a subject area to explore. You’ll also find information about accelerated learning, English as a Second Language (ESL) and special education programs.
DODEA-Europe offers parents invaluable online resources to assist students with homework, assess their learning progress and handle growing pains. Visit DODEA.edu.
Depending on the school and grade level, you may receive information about your child’s progress through periodic report cards, by accessing the online website, GradeSpeed, or through open house/parent-teacher conferences.
Other valuable resources available for parents and students include the school handbook, DODEA-Europe website and individual, unsecured school websites. In addition, parents and students may have access to password-protected sites that provide weekly messages from principals, school event postings and classroom spotlights. Parents can also utilize the following resources to stay informed, address concerns or get more involved with the DODEA-Europe system:
- Information sessions – Offered as brown-bag lunches or after-school sessions, parents can get informed on important school topics, such as bullying and standardized testing.
- SLO – As previously mentioned, the SLO offers assistance by connecting families with the right people and resources during transition and throughout the school year. Find contact information for your area’s SLO online.
- Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) – This volunteer organization sponsors a variety of school activities, including student pictures, book fairs and many other events. The organization enriches the lives of students and provides you the opportunity to meet other parents.
- Chain of command – Much like the military, parents are encouraged to follow the chain of command to address education issues. Try handling the situation at the student-teacher level before escalating to administration.
Supplies & Class Standards
School supply lists are posted online; your student’s individual class may need supplemental supplies, and will most likely be listed in the syllabus or through online messages between educators and parents. Student handbooks available either at enrollment or online will also outline policies regarding behavioral standards, dress codes and items permitted or prohibited at school.
The iconic yellow bus doesn’t exist in Europe. Children ride in commercial buses or city transit coaches contracted with local transportation services. Drivers are only required to speak the host nation’s language, and may not speak English. And, vehicles are not required to stop for loading and unloading buses. Therefore, students should not cross the road in front or behind buses, and should be cautious in cross walks. For more information about bus procedures and behavioral policies, visit DODEA.edu.
To enroll your child in the transportation service, visit the local School Bus Office, where your child will complete a safety orientation and receive both a personalized bus schedule and boarding pass for the bus. If the pass is lost, you are responsible for replacing it; the student uses it each time he or she rides the bus. Sometimes inclement weather may cause service disruptions, delays and closures. Listen to AFN radio or check the AFN app for updated information. Inquire about the proper procedure for dropping off and picking up students at bus stops. Procedures vary by student age or status.
School lunch program
Students can bring lunch from home, or take part in the AAFES-sponsored meal program that meets USDA nutrition requirements. Lunches can be paid with cash on site, through pre-paid accounts with funds added via phone, online or through the My Payment Plus phone app, as well as at AAFES exchanges. Many questions about services and food offerings are answered at AAFES.com. Some schools allow students above a specific age to go “off campus” for lunch to on- or even off-base establishments. These privileges vary per school and restrictions apply, so see details in your school’s student handbook.
While academic, fine art and sport activities vary by school, your child will find a fun, enriching program. Many schools also offer special events and activities throughout the year. To find out about both sports and non-athletic activities and events, visit DODEA-Europe online.