Back-to-school season is wrought with emotions for both children and parents. Children might be apprehensive and excited, while parents are a little nostalgic as their children age, and there is no doubt that returning to school can cause a lot of stress as well.
That stress can multiply for divorced families. Co-parenting is already a challenge, but starting a new school year can leave you facing new stressors you did not expect after divorce. Here are some tips to help you and your co-parent navigate these challenges.
1. Plan for school expenses
Regardless of who pays child support, you and your co-parent should determine how to pay for your child’s school expenses, including:
- New school supplies
- School activity fees
- Field trip expenses
Creating a plan in advance for how to divide these costs can help reduce the chance of an argument later when these expenses come up. If you are already divorced, payment for this expenses should be addressed in your divorce judgment or marital settlement agreement.
2. Reevaluate the parenting schedule
It is also helpful to take another look at your parenting schedule in preparation for a new school year. A new school year brings new activities and a different schedule for each child. Adjustments to the parenting schedule may need to be made to accommodate the needs of the children.
Reviewing and renegotiating parenting time might be necessary so that the parenting schedule matches everyone’s new schedules, but still provides a fair division of time between parents.
3. Inform your child’s teacher
You will probably have to inform the school’s administrative office of the divorce to update your child’s records. However, it can also be incredibly helpful to provide your child’s teacher with this information directly.
This is critical for several reasons, including:
- Giving the teacher context to the child’s life
- Ensuring that both parents receive important classroom information
- Helping parents and teachers work together to help the child succeed
4. Make a strategy to support your child
The back-to-school season might be stressful, but school itself can be even more so for your child. On top of their academics and social life, they might also still be adjusting to a new family life post-divorce.
You and your co-parent can help reduce this stress by crafting a strategy to support your child throughout the school year. It might be helpful to consider making a plan to:
- Help them prepare for a positive first day of school to start the year off right
- Attend school events together, from sports games to parent-teacher conferences
- Determine how to approach parent volunteer opportunities to get involved in the child’s life
- Communicate and keep each other updated about important information
Working together with your co-parent might not be easy, but planning ahead of time can help parents and children approach this school year with confidence.