It’s back to school time. This time of the year can be exciting for children, but can be stressful for parents, particularly those who have recently split or are in the divorce process. There are, however, some easy steps that newly divorced parents can take to make things easier on themselves and their children.
First, parents should communicate clear expectations about routines to both their children and their ex-spouses. It is a good idea to meet before the school year starts to discuss issues involving who will handle pick-ups from school on which days, after school activities, and meals. Once the parents agree to a plan, it is a good idea to share it with their children so everyone knows what to expect.
Second, it is a good idea for newly divorced parents to each meet with their children’s new teachers. Although it is never a good idea to get schools involved in personal disagreements between ex-spouses, communicating with teachers about their situation at home can help teachers better meet the needs of their students and to identify potential problems as they arise.
Third, although it may sometimes be difficult, recently divorced parents should share information whenever possible. Unless there is a protective order, teachers and other school personnel should have permission to share information with both parents equally.
To help ensure that the process of communication with the school goes as smoothly as possible, the custodial parent should allow the school to send duplicate notifications, including report cards and other materials, to both households. In addition, parents should consider requiring their children to keep a single folder in their backpacks, in which they keep graded tests and homework assignments. Keeping the folder in the backpack allows both parents to keep track of their children’s progress.
Finally, parents should remember that school is for their children, not for them. By focusing on the needs of their children, parents can make the divorce process easier for them and can help ensure that they continue to do well in school. Parents should avoid attempting to make school participating into a competition with their ex-spouses.