If you’re divorced, back-to-school season can be a more nerve-wracking time for you than intact families.
Believe me, I know. I’ve been divorced for five years and have gone through several Septembers as a single mother.
Along the way, I’ve picked up a few tricks to address some of the most problematic back-to-school scenarios. For example, how do you handle the first day of school if you and your ex don’t get along? Who will bring your child to school? Who will attend the back-to-school BBQ?
There are other things to think about, too. There will be permission slips to sign, volunteer opportunities, parent-teacher interviews and curriculum night. If your child is going back and forth between two houses, homework is bound to get lost, books forgotten at one parent’s house when they were supposed to be at the other’s. Finally, report cards will be issued, and unless teachers know to print two copies, you’ll have to share one copy with your co-parent.
There are ways to navigate these issues.
First, it’s important to know that your teachers and principal want to know what’s going on at home. They care about your child and want to understand anything that might affect your son or daughter’s behaviour at school. Schedule a time to talk about it privately or write an email.
Make sure you’re both added to the class email list and any classroom apps your teacher chooses to use. That way, you are each in the know about what’s happening in your child’s class. You will also both be made aware of permission forms, field trips and other volunteer opportunities.
If one parent-teacher interview is uncomfortable, you can always schedule two. You can make one appointment and your co-parent can schedule another at a time that’s convenient. Teachers are happy to accommodate.
Ask for two copies of your child’s report card. Typically, only one copy will be issued, but if two are needed, just let them know.
As for the first day of school, my co-parent and I have chosen to put our differences aside and take our children together. It might not be the most comfortable experience for you if you’re newly separated or going through a difficult divorce, but it’s comforting for children to have both parents support them on special days, especially the first day of school.
Do you have any tips for separated or divorced parents as the new school year approaches?