Back to School Season and Divorced Families
Back to school season can be challenging for parents whose children are still in full time summer mode. It can be challenging to transition from sleeping in and hanging out with friends, to waking up early and doing schoolwork. The transition can be even more of a hurdle for children of recently divorced parents, but with a little bit of prep work, your kids can ease into a normal school routine with little to no hiccups.
Let the School Know
While not required, it is recommended that your children’s school is informed of your divorce prior to the first day of classes. This can help teachers prepare for any behavioral issues or outbursts your child may have, and be able to address them accordingly. School counselors should be told about your divorce, especially since they can provide a safe and judgement free zone for your child to discuss their feelings.
Additionally, school administrators and staff should be made aware of your divorce so they can update their files with new contact information and protocols. For instance, schools will need to know who to contact for parent-teacher conferences, emergencies, and after hour school events. In some situations, one parent may become inactive and not participate in their child’s life or school activities.
You do not need to go into detail when alerting the school of your divorce or separation. You can keep the notification simple by sending an email. This form of communication is direct and to the point, and it is always safer to have any correspondence regarding your divorce in writing.
Create (and Keep) Schedules
Having a stable routine is key for helping children cope with divorce and succeed in school. Before a routine can be set, you and your ex need to coordinate your personal and professional calendars to ensure that a feasible schedule can be put into place. Determine which parent or family member will take care of school drop-offs and pick-ups, and on which days.
Will there be a babysitter or after school program for the child to attend? Will the child reside at one parent’s home during the school week, or will his or her time be split between households? Will both parents attend conferences, extracurricular activities, or chaperone filed trips? These are all questions that will be addressed while creating a schedule with your former spouse. If you and your ex are not able to communicate effectively or reach an agreement on your own, a 4-way meeting between each party and their attorneys may be required.
Foster Stable Home Environments
Children thrive in stable home environments, and creating two safe and loving homes for your child will help them transition from summer vacation to the school year routine. Stable and familiar environments can be fostered in many ways:
- Keep school clothes, books, and supplies at both homes so the child doesn’t need to pack a suitcase if spending time with both parents during the week;
- Establish universal rules that are enforced in both homes;
- Create structure and routine in each household;
- Encourage phone or Skype conversations between the child and other parent.
In order for children to overcome the trauma of their parent’s divorce, they must know that they are loved, safe, and will be taken care of. This dramatic of a life change is scary, and any anxiety or confusion associated with it will often negatively impact their academic and social progress in school. Parents need to make a serious attempt at setting aside their differences, and making their children’s well-being a top priority.
Remain a United Front
It can be hard to be friendly or cordial to your ex, but doing so will help to alleviate any divorce related negativity your child may feel. It can be comforting to a child if both of their parents attend sporting events, science fairs, or school plays. Doing so shows your child that they are still your main focus, and that you still love them even though the family dynamic has changed. Practicing smart co-parenting will help your united front to thrive.
Both parties should attend parent-teacher conferences whenever possible, as to remain on the same page when it comes to their child’s education. If there are any behavioral or learning issues that may stem from the divorce, both you and your spouse need to be made aware and kept abreast of the situation. Providing the school is updated contact information, as mentioned previously, is encouraged.
The only way to implement the back to school strategies discussed here is to have a child-centered divorce. It is only when your child’s best interest becomes the main focus of your separation that they can flourish in school and their new life.
Regardless of any animosity that may exist between you and ex, you both need to take the high road and act like adults. Be loving, caring parents, and not resentful former partners. Listening to your kid’s concerns and effectively communicating with your ex are two of the best things you can do to ensure a child-centered divorce.
New York City’s Premier Family Law Firm
The law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. specializes in contested divorce and child custody cases throughout New York City and Long Island. With over 50 years of combined experience, the knowledgeable attorneys are well versed in the complicated aspects of matrimonial and family law. For more information, contact 718-875-7584 and schedule your free consultation today!