Juggling the demands of back to school can be a challenge for any parent, but it can be a particularly stressful time of year for divorced parents. Here are six indispensable co-parenting tips to help you cope with the start of the school year:
- Read your Court Order. A lot of parents have different schedules from summer to school year. Make sure you stay on the same page by re-reading what you agreed to previously.
- Share correspondence and calls from the school. Both parents need to know their child’s teacher, and when back to school nights and PTA meetings are taking place. It is in your child’s best interests for both parents to be engaged. Studies show that children’s school performance increase when fathers are also involved. Parental involvement is also very important in the development of social skills.
- Share the back to school supply list with the other parent. Communicate about who is getting what. This time of year tensions can run high, because budgets are running tight. Help ease the transition back to school by asking for help with certain items, or offering to help if you have not heard from the other parent. These extra expenses don’t disappear just because parents no longer live together.
- Email, text, or call the other parent directly about extracurricular and school activities your child has interest in, especially if they will impact your parenting plan or visitation. It is important that both parents are on board to drive the child to soccer practice or band competitions. Every weekend is the child’s weekend. It can also be very embarrassing for them if their attendance or performance is noticeably hindered because of their home situation.
- Identify any changes that need to be made to your current Court Order. As children grow, their needs change. Your plan may have been written when your child was in pre-school. Now that your child is in high school adjustments may need to be made. Your job or schedule may have changed, too.
- Revisit house rules with the other parent. Look forward and set a routine that will lead to academic success for your child’s school year. You may need to address such things as bedtime, homework, screen time, phone time, meals, playing with friends and anything else that may impact your child’s health and wellbeing. The easier the transition between homes, the easier it will be for your child to focus on what really matters which includes success at school!