Heading back to school for a new year can be a challenge for any family. The children may be anxious, unenthusiastic, overexcited, unfocused or some combination of all of these feelings. They need supplies, clothes, and technology. They have summer reading to complete. They have sports practices and tryouts.
Coordinating back to school when divorced can be quite difficult because of the risk of duplication or missing something important. However, if parents follow some simple guidelines, handling back to school and the start of school can go smoothly.
First, each parent must be fully in the loop with the school and all matters related to the child. Each parent should be sure that he or she is on the contact list at school, receives all emails or snail mails, and that the custody arrangement is known to the school. Parents should avoid trying to exclude one another from school information or participation; not only is it contrary to the standard parenting plans in Missouri, it also hinders your child’s ability to thrive at school.
Second, be sure to have a communication system related to school. Use Google and share a calendar of events all related to the child. When a parent or child knows of a new addition, putting it on the group calendar means everyone sees it right away. Also, parents and children can use group chats so that essential information is collectively shared. If you prefer apps, look at the app store for ones that facilitate communication for divorced parents, like Family Wall or 2 Houses.
Third, have a system of communicating with teachers that is efficient and not duplicative or irritating. Teachers have limited time, so rather than both parents asking the same questions twice, have it answered once and make sure each parent is cc’d on the email. This method also discourages a parent from talking behind the other parent’s back with the teachers.
Finally, with regard to expenses, work out a system in advance of who will pay for what and when. Kids get anxious if they do not have all of their supplies and clothes ready; sales are happening too. If you take a few minutes as parents and communicate about dividing up the responsibilities and costs, the whole process will go more smoothly.
As you can see, openness, communication, and transparency are the keys to making back to schoolwork. Remember – the goal is for both parents to stay informed and involved, and for the child to have the best educational experience possible.
If you have questions about divorce and back to school, contact us – we can help.