Muppet-themed mobile app helps military kids adjust to moving

Muppet-themed mobile app helps military kids adjust to moving

by Corina Notyce, DCoE Public Affairs

The average military child moves six to nine times between kindergarten and high school. That’s a lot of planning, packing, unpacking and readjusting — good reasons to start early to get your children comfortable with moving.

But, don’t feel like it all comes down to you to make your next family move smooth and fun. Download “The Big Moving Adventure” mobile app to your smartphone or tablet (or let your preschooler do it for you), and you have help.

Sesame Workshop and National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) created “The Big Moving Adventure” app to help military families with young children cope with the moving process. The app makes it an exciting, positive experience. Moving can be challenging for the whole family, and for the youngest members, stir up insecure feelings, new worries and new fears.

“Moving is difficult particularly for young children because of all the changes,” said Dr. Kelly Blasko, psychologist at T2. “Three- to 5-year-olds don’t understand the moving process and thus don’t know what to expect or how to deal with emotions that moving may bring about.”

So, why not make moving fun? According to Blasko, that’s what the creators of this app have done. “The Big Moving Adventure” is set up like a game, with a Muppet that children can customize. Your child then helps the Muppet through important moving steps, such as:

■ Hearing the news
■ Packing
■ Saying goodbye
■ Expressing feelings
■ Travelling
■ Exploring the new home
■ Making new friends

“As children participate in their Muppet friend’s move to a new home, they familiarize themselves with the moving process so when it’s their turn, they don’t feel as overwhelmed because they now know what to expect,” said Blasko. “The app also builds children’s confidence to handle future moves.”

Another advantage is that the app opens the door for you to talk with your child about moving and their feelings at different stages. A separate section for parents provides tips and suggestions on the same moving-related topics your child will learn about, as well as strategies for managing your own stress and feelings.

Using the app and the Muppet, your child can:

■ Decide which toys to pack in a box and which ones to pack for the trip
■ Act out different ways to say goodbye to people and places
■ Express their feelings through their Muppet friend
■ Color in a postcard from toys as they travel on the moving truck
■ Explore the new home and unpack items
■ Learn strategies for making new friends

“My 3-year-old is having a hard time with our unexpected PCS move,” said Soledad Maria Ramos, Army spouse. “It’s been very hard to explain, but this is making it easier for her to understand. … It was perfect timing.”

The app can be used before your family moves and during the process. Kids can and should return to different parts of the app if they find certain things challenging. For example, your child may find it hard to pack away their favorite toys because they fear they won’t see them at the new place. Or, they may have trouble getting used to a new room. They can revisit these moving steps with their Muppet friend and you.

If you’re not convinced, go ahead and explore the app. You can download it for free from Apple, Google Play and Amazon for Kindle Fire.

Do you have tips for moving? Let us know in the comments below!

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