It’s that time again. Summer is slowly fading, the days are gradually getting shorter, and soon the whole world will be covered by pumpkin flavored something or other. As fall dawns on the horizon it also means a new school year is approaching. This exciting time of year presents both challenges and opportunities to divorced parents. This blog will provide 5 tips for parents for a new school year.
Talk To the Teachers
Teachers spend more time with your kids during the week than you do. As the Husband of a teacher I know how much she invests in her students and how those same students look to her as their school parent. Obviously she can never replace either parent, but she can be an amazing resource for parents.
Meet with the teacher and get to know him or her before the school year starts. Discuss your child’s strength and weaknesses both academically and emotionally. This not only helps the teacher to prepare for teaching your child, but assists her in understanding how to best reach out to your child. It is entirely possible that your child may exhibit behaviors at school that you never see at home. These could be both positive and negative behaviors. Building the relationship now can help everyone ensure your child’s success during the school year.
Coordinate Shopping Plans
Long gone are the days where a ream of paper, a few Pee Chee folders, and if you were lucky a Trapper Keeper were enough to get you through a school year. With many schools turning to computers and iPads for instruction, the list of items kids need to start a school year is very different.
I suggest to parents share responsibility of buying the big or expensive items (school clothes or backpacks) and then coordinate buying the remaining items as needed. It is also a good idea to buy duplicates of many items (especially since Wal-Mart basically gives away school supplies this time of year) since children, especially elementary age students are notoriously bad at keeping track of their supplies. This way they do not have to shuffle supplies between houses.
Coordinating school supply purchase also avoids the unnecessary expense of duplicating unnecessary purchases. That is money you can save for buying all the pumpkin flavored lattes in October.
Get On Top Of the Schedule
Kids are busier than ever these days. Between sports, music lessons and play dates, it seems they have almost no downtime.
Using a shared online calendar through iCal (Apple) or Google Calendar can save a lot of confusion. If you are already using Our Family Wizard, they have an excellent calendar.
Being certain where your children need to be and when also avoid the conflict and stress associated with co-parenting busy children.
Prepare Your Kids Together
This may be less of an issue for older kids where the start of a new school year is nothing new. For younger kids, it helps to begin preparing them for the school year early. It also helps if this preparation is occurring with both parents.
Work together to get you child excited for everything a new school provides. Talk about all the fun knew things they will get to learn. Talk about the friends they will get to see again and all of the activities they will get to experience now that a new school year is approaching. If your child starts to feel down about going back, let them know it’s okay to be scared and assure them that it will be a good experience.
Open Lines of Communication
If this is your first school year as a divorced parent, your child may not be the only one feeling down about the start of school. For the same reason communication is important to prepare your child for school, it is just as important to prepare the parents. Have a discussion about what you think will be your challenges for the new school year and listen to the other parent about what they think will be challenging. You may find that you can help each other to ease the other parent’s stress or anxiety.
Never forget the most important part of co-parenting; ensuring the happiness and success of your children. It takes a village to raise children, but sometimes we forget our biggest ally may be the other parent.
Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.