No matter how you and your ex feel about each other, your children’s best interests and their academic successes should be your top priorities. If that means doing everything you can to put aside differences and put a smile on for a day to show a united front to your kids when it comes to back-to-school activities, the long-term effects on your children’s success may be priceless. If it is truly impossible to be in the same room as your ex (for example, situations involving past domestic abuse), these tips can still be followed individually.
Create a Shared School Calendar
If you use an app such as Our Family Wizard, a shared calendar is built right in. If not, many parents find Google Calendar to be user-friendly because both parents can add, remove, and edit entries. If all school activities, conferences, and extracurriculars are placed into one common calendar then neither parent can ever accuse the other of not sharing information. More importantly though, with everything in one spot, the greater the chances that your kids will get to see both parents at their important scholastic events. For most kids, that is something they will never forget.
Meet Teachers and Tour the School
If your child’s school offers a pre-first-day walk-through or tour of the classroom, sign up! Even if you don’t have placement of your child on the only days available for the tour. It is important for you to have a feel for and visual of the environment your child will be in every day. If both parents can attend this at the same time and meet their child’s teacher together, even better. If you can get along with your ex enough to be in the same room asking questions about your child’s upcoming academic year and how you can best support your child at home: 1) The teacher benefits from only having one meeting for each child and learning about the challenges the child may bring to the classroom, 2) your child benefits because both parents are hearing the same information and receiving the same direction from the teacher and 3) the parents benefit from hearing questions the other parent is asking that might not have even occurred to one or the other. Further, the teacher will feel more comfortable speaking openly to both of you and won’t ever feel like she or he must take “a side” between parents. You can better understand what your ex is focused on for your child and discover what strengths each of you brings, academically, to support your child at home as s/he continues their studies at home. Perhaps one of you is stronger in history and the other in math – use your own strengths and your ex’s strengths to benefit your child’s learning!
Coordinate School Supply Shopping
School supply lists these days can get very long and daunting. Talk to your ex about how best to attack it – does one parent have more time to take the child shopping or would both parents benefit from splitting the list in half and each taking their portion? However you decide to complete the task, think about ultimately sharing the cost of these supplies. Not only because the costs are ever-increasing, but it shows your child that both parents are pitching in for one of their most important areas in life – school. (Some parents may have specifically addressed this in their divorce judgments.)
If you run into back-to-school issues with your ex or reach decision-making points where there just can’t seem to be any agreement, call one of our attorneys to talk it through. We’ve probably dealt with a similar situation before and can offer you guidance and legal advice on your best next steps to ensure a productive and successful school year for your child!