The new school year is upon us, and it is time to get the kids ready to
return to school. For families who co-parent, this may mean reverting
to a “school schedule” for parenting time. This also means
preparing your child for a new grade, new teacher, and possibly a new
school. It’s important for your children to feel supported by both
parents as they transition into a new routine. Here are some tips to make
returning to school as smooth and successful as possible.
- Talk to your ex. It’s important to make sure you and your co-parent
are on the same page when it comes to your child’s education. Putting
aside your differences and focusing on your child first is essential.
Being able to communicate with your co-parent and agree to expectations,
extracurricular activities and school events will benefit your child.
- Talk to your children. Find out what they are excited about for school,
and what they are nervous about. Keep them informed of their schedule
with you and their other parent. It’s also a great time to talk
about extracurricular activities. Giving your children some choices will
make them feel heard and empowered.
- Go to school! If possible, try to attend back-to-school events with your
child and with your ex. This will show your child that you both support
him or her.
- Talk to teachers. Speak with your child’s teacher to discuss his
or her needs and the teacher’s expectations. When you speak with
the teacher, do say that you are divorced, and that you both want information
and communications with the teacher and the school. Ask what makes it
easiest for the teacher. Do NOT explain how horrible your ex is, or how
he/she never participates etc.
- Attend events. Coordinate with your ex so that you can both attend school
events and your child’s activities. If you cannot support your child
at the same time, take turns attending extracurricular practices or games.
- Create a calendar. Work with you child and your ex to create a calendar
or schedule of events, parenting time, and days off from school. Communication
websites like Ourfamilywizard.com offer a calendar that both parents can
see and add to, and even add their children to view. Or create a free
one with Google Calendar. This keeps everyone on the same page.
- Go shopping! Shopping for school supplies is a job for both parents, and
can be fun for your child. Communicate with your co-parent to divide the
- Make sure your child’s medical status is up-to-date. Work with your
co-parent to get your child the proper physical for sports and any vaccinations
required by the school for attendance.
- Be flexible. As your child ages and develops, his or her priorities for
school, sports, activities and friends change too. This may mean that
your child stays afterschool for band practice, or has weekly football
games that occur during your parenting time. Support these activities,
they are great for your children.
- Keep informed. It is not up to your ex or your child to tell you about
school events. Contact the school, download their calendar and communicate
with your child’s teachers and coaches. Many schools now have online-access
and school “portals” so that parents and students can keep
informed, and many teachers are accessible via email.
The most important goal in preparing your child to go back to school is
to be there for your child. It means communicating and coordinating with
your ex, and sometimes “agreeing to disagree”. Remember to
put your children’s needs first and act in their best interests.