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Top 7 Back to School Tips for Divorced Parents

It's that time of year again! Time to put away the sunscreen, break out the sweaters, and enjoy the arrival of Fall. Yes, it's back to school time for children all over the nation. Going back to school brings out many emotions for both children and parents: excitement, anxiety, fear, apprehension, and happiness. Children have to adjust to new routines and schedules, which can be especially difficult for children of divorced parents, who also have to endure the shuffle back and forth between homes in addition to school schedules and extracurricular activities.

With that in mind, we wanted to give you our top 7 back to school tips for divorced parents. These tips will help eliminate uncertainty for your children (and you), which will help settle their anxiety and ease any back to school fears that are related to having divorced parents.

1. Talk to your child's teacher. It's a good idea to let your child's teacher know they are from a divorced family, as well as fill them in on the pertinent details of the parenting plan, such as when the child is with the other parent (every other weekend, midweek, every two weeks, etc.). Doing this can enable the teacher to help identify any difficulties your child may be having with transitions, etc.

2. Coordinate an activity calendar. Your child will likely be involved in many different activities at school, such as school plays, sports, concerts, etc. For your child's sake, you'll want to make sure that one of you is available to attend these events with your child, if not both of you. Your child will naturally want both of you there, so if you can put aside your differences with your ex for a few hours and sit on opposite sides of the room, your child will likely be thrilled. If that's really just not possible, try to each take different nights, or trade off attending every other event, so your child still gets to have both of you attend these important events.

3. Ask for duplicate hand-outs. Ask your child's teacher ahead of time to have two sets of progress reports, or any other hand-outs that they might have on Parent/Teacher night or Open House night. For homework assignments and tests, report cards, etc. which there will be only one copy of, a good tip is to keep a special folder in your child's backpack for these kinds of papers. That way you and the other parent both get to see how your child is doing, and your child does not have to be responsible for showing them to both parents, or possibly losing them in the process. Staying on the same page is very important as this represents common family goals for your child.

4. Arrange homework support. Children often have projects or major homework assignments throughout the year. They may want one parent specifically to help them with these projects, depending on what type of project it is. Or, they may feel more comfortable doing these projects at one parent's house versus the other. It's a good idea to provide your child the flexibility to make these types of requests, without retribution or pressure from you as a parent. Allowing your child this flexibility ensures they are in a position to excel at school, and that is what parenting is all about!

5. Get organized.Shuffling between two homes can be confusing and things can often get lost in the process. To eliminate the frustration that goes along with transitions, try to be as organized as possible. Pin reminders to your child's backpack, use the special folder we talked about in tip #3, or talk to your ex about the homework assignments, etc. Communication is a critical part of successful divorced parenting, and putting your children first helps your child understand and know for sure that you both have their best interest at heart.

6. Plan ahead.Document ahead of time what should happen for events such as: emergencies, illness, inclement weather, and early release days during the school year. Having these back-up and emergency plans will help avoid any confusion as well as help your child feel more secure during planned and unplanned events that may occur while they are at school.

7. Talk to your kids.Last, but certainly not least, make sure you are keeping your child informed of all these items that we just talked about. Make sure they know their schedule ahead of time, who is picking them up, and above all that you will always be there for them. Helping your child feel secure in this knowledge will enable them to be well-adjusted and eliminate unnecessary fear and anxiety that can accompany children of divorced parents.

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