8 Back to School Co-Parenting Tips
The start of a new school year should be a very exciting time for your children. However, for many co-parents, a new school year can be the cause of a lot of anxiety. With each new school year, opportunities and challenges for both you and your children are sure to unfold. This already tense time is often more difficult for a child with co-parents in two separate homes. Luckily, there are a few easy tips that co-parents can follow to keep back to school as stress-free as possible for both the child and parent.
1. Communication is key.
Preparing a child to go back to school requires lots of coordination. Without proper communication between co-parents, simple responsibilities can seem unmanageable. It is therefore imperative to communicate with your co-parent. Some co-parents use weekly or monthly family meetings as a way to keep communication constant as the year moves forward. These family meetings are a great way for a child to talk to you and your co-parent in the same room. Moreover, these meetings are an easy way to keep you and your co-parent updated on your child’s life. If in-person meetings are not possible because of a tense co-parenting relationship, remember to communicate regularly via phone, text message, email, or any other method that will facilitate co-parent communication.
2. Review the school calendar to make plans and work out conflicts ahead of time.
School holidays, teacher work days, field trips, and other school activities should be discussed ahead of time in an effort to avoid any potential conflicts. Make sure to take the time to address any scheduling issues with your co-parent when you receive your child’s classroom calendar.
3. Be clear about pickups and drop offs and what the kids need to bring to and from school.
Before your child begins school, talk to your co-parent about timing for pickups and drop-offs, as well as what your child will need to bring to school every day. If possible, discuss the schedule together with your child to facilitate a smooth transition and alleviate any scheduling stress your child may have. Your child should always know how he or she will be getting to and from school every day.
4. Plan extra-curricular activities for your child.
Speak to your co-parent about what after school activities are appropriate for you, your co-parent, and your child. Once you reach an agreement with your co-parent, present your child with some activity choices. Whether it be sports, the arts, or math team, it is important for your child to be excited about an activity when starting school, and to know that both parents are on board.
5. Handle any special educational needs together.
Whether your child is gifted or requires an Individual Education Plan to address special learning needs, it is important for co-parents to handle these issues together. This can be particularly difficult when co-parents have opposing views on what course of action will satisfy the child’s educational needs. The key here is cooperation and compromise. Both co-parents should be ready and willing to listen to the input of teachers and other education professionals and to work with the child and help with homework.
6. Coordinate back to school shopping.
Back to school shopping can be a daunting task that should not fall squarely on one parent. Discuss back to school shopping ahead of time with your co-parent in order to avoid one parent taking the brunt of the responsibility, or both parents duplicating efforts. Perhaps one co-parent can shop with the child for supplies while the other shops with the child for clothes or uniforms. Splitting responsibility creates less stress for the parents and reminds your child that both co-parents are involved and invested in his or her life.
7. Do not bring up child support issues.
If you and your co-parent often argue about child support payments, it is important to remember not to mention this around your child. When a child goes back to school, they often get excited to show their classmates the new clothes and cool gadgets they got for the school year. Purchasing the best of everything for a child can put a financial strain on a parent. It is important to not let your desire to buy the latest and greatest for your child inspire anger toward your co-parent, especially if child support is an issue in your co-parenting relationship. Do everything in your power to avoid blaming your inability to afford everything your child wants on lack of support payments from your co-parent.
8. Plan to attend important school events together.
If possible, you and your co-parent should do your best to attend important school events together such as orientation, parent-teacher conferences, and school performances. Not only does mutual attendance allow for more effective co-parenting, but it also reminds your child that both parents care.
Like every family, each parenting plan is different. If you are not sure what your rights and responsibilities may be, or you believe the current circumstances are not best for your children, you may want to contact a family law attorney who can provide you with clear advice and real answers. For more information contact Levinson & Capuano, LLC’s team of divorce and family law attorneys by email at Info@BrowardLegal.com, over the phone at (954)703-2110, or by following this link: Contact.
This is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied on to make any legal or other major decisions. If you have specific questions or inquiries regarding any of this information, you should consult with an attorney licensed in your state.