Adjusting your kids to Sigonella

Adjusting your kids to Sigonella

by Stripes Europe
Stripes Europe

Moving to Italy is a big change for the entire family. Children certainly feel this impact as they leave behind familiar schedules, classrooms, friends and neighborhoods. Here are ways to make the transition as smooth as possible for your kiddos.


The importance of routines in child development should not be overlooked. Establishing routines will help children handle the additional emotional and environmental changes as you get settled.

• Set sleeping schedules right away.

• Rehearse school or daycare routines.

• If possible, take your children to their daycare or school to meet caregivers or teachers in advance.

• Make sure your routine includes time for your children’s favorite activities.


Include your children throughout the transition. Even for toddlers, give them tasks and roles to instill a sense of responsibility and increase self-confidence.

• Let them help unpack and give them freedom to organize their living space.

• Schedule social time with classmates and new neighbors.

• Sign your children up for after-school or extracurricular activities.

• Contact the School Liaison Officer to request student sponsors.


• Maintain an enthusiastic outlook about your arrival in Italy, even if you are having your own difficulties. Your children will look to you a great deal during this transition. If you’re upset, they will be, too.

• Eat meals on the economy, attend local festivals and learn about Italian traditions. Address the differences between life in Italy versus back home but move conversations in a positive direction. Your children will gain an appreciation for diversity while exploring.

• Enroll your children in Italian lessons or Italian preschool.

• Explore the best of Europe by letting your children assist in trip planning, researching and selecting sites or activities they would enjoy. Take photos and work together to create scrapbooks, photo albums, calendars, collages and other creative projects.


While adjusting to everything new, don’t forget about life back home. Set regular video chats or phone call dates with family and friends. If your children are allowed online, encourage them to utilize social media and email to stay in touch with friends or have them send postcards from the destinations they visit. Continue the traditions that are important in your family, while creating new ones during your time in Italy.


Give your children time to process all of the changes, both good and bad, that come with their new environment. Be aware of expat child syndrome, a psychological condition that typically occurs in children ages 10 to 15 and can lead to isolative or unruly behavior.


• Family Life Counselors (MFLCs) - Free non-medical sessions with child behavioral specialists are anonymous and may occur in individual, couple, family or group settings.

• School Liaison Officer (SLO)

• Military OneSource - Twelve free sessions may occur in individual, couple, family or group settings.


A Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) school is located on Naval Air Station (NAS) I and educates children from the ages of pre-K through high school. The Sure Start pre-K program gives priority enrollment to children of service members whose rank is E-1 to E-4, GS-1 to GS-4 or NAF-1 or NAF-2. Start communicating early on with DODEA or the SLO to begin the enrollment process for your school-aged children.


• Enrollment requirements:

• Documentation needed:

  • PCS orders
  • Page 13 from PSD to show child’s command sponsorship
  • Certificate or passport for each child
  • Immunization records
  • Records from previous school
  • Valid ID card from parent

• Visit for online registration

• School Liaison Officer (SLO): invaluable resource during transition;


Home schooling is an option open to all SOFA-sponsored active duty military, DOD civilians and contractors. You children may be eligible for auxiliary services offered by DODEA-Europe. Contact the SLO for more information and to connect with homeschool groups.


Many programs are available through Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR)'s Child and Youth Programs . Contact MWR to enroll. Note that waitlists are enevitable, so get started early!

  • The Child Development Center (CDC) – These centers offer weekday childcare for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years or pre-school.
  • School-Age Care (SAC), Youth Programs, Teen Programs – Offered for children in kindergarten through high school, these programs focus on a variety of enrichment activities. Before- and after-school care is available, as well as activities on holidays and during summer break.
  • Check with CYP for specific registration information. CDC: 624-3736 SAC: 624-3712


Being a parent isn’t always easy, especially when placed in a new environment. Many on-installation and private resources are available for you, such as Fleet and Family Support Center, Morale, Welfare and Recreation or spouses’ clubs. Also, look for community websites and social media resources to find support and friendship.

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