Eight Ways Co-Parents Can Prepare for the School Year
Co-Parenting & Back to School Time
With the 2022/23 school year on the horizon, newly separated/divorced co-parents may be worried about how they will successfully navigate the new school year. Depending on your child’s age as well as how long you’ve had time to adjust to your co-parenting schedule, you may be worried about how you and your co-parent will work together this school year. Here are eight ways you can prepare for the new school year as a co-parent.
- Review your parenting plan. This plan should outline how parenting time is divided, which parent has physical or legal custody, and details concerning school breaks, extracurricular activities, school pickups and drop-offs, and other important factors.
- Be flexible. As you, your child, and their other parent get re-acclimated, there will likely be roadblocks, miscommunications, or issues that arise. While this can be frustrating, give yourself and others grace (in the beginning). If the issues persist, have a calm, frank conversation with solutions.
- Consider whether you will both be at the first-day drop-off. If your child is nervous because it’s their first time going to school or a new school, they may ask that you both be there; be honest with them about whether this is feasible (or allowed because of the parenting plan). If one parent is handling drop-off and the other is handling pick-up, also highlight that they’ll see you both on your first day. You can also share first-day pictures if only one parent will be there on the first day or do a video call. (Be sure to review the communication guidelines included in your parenting plan.)
- Discuss back-to-school shopping plans. If you and the other use a co-parenting app, the app may have a feature that allows you to track bills and expenses or share a shopping list. Regardless of whether you use an app, consider reviewing their back-to-school list and deciding which supplies they will need duplicates of (for each house).
- Make sure your child’s teacher and forms are updated. You should tell the school and your child’s parents that you co-parent so that they know to give you two copies of the documents if possible. If your family is blended (i.e. your child has a step-parent), the school should also know that they might handle pick-ups and that there are more than two people to contact in case of emergency.
- Utilize your child’s backpack. Not only is it important to ensure your child has their backpack during exchanges, but you can pan to use it to keep track of and share important documents (i.e. permission slips, project detail sheets, homework, etc.).
- Prioritize consistency. While each parent may have their own parenting style and rules, you should try to help your child have a consistent schedule/routine.
- Share communications from the school. If either party gets a message from the school concerning updates, important dates like the open house, or other information, you should share it. Whether you send a text or update your shared calendar/document, co-parenting during the school year is easier when both parents communicate.
5 Back-to-School Situations & How Co-Parents Might Handle Them
You may be wondering if we have some practical examples of how you might work with the other parent. Here are some situation-based tips for working with your co-parent during the school year.
- Homework and projects. While your child is getting back into a routine or establishing a new routine this school year, they will need your support, especially if they split time between your homes. Both parents should help their child develop and refine a schedule and system for completing daily homework, studying, and/or doing projects. Practically, this may mean ensuring homework is done around the same time at both homes, establishing a location for schoolbooks and related materials to be kept in both homes, and having a shared calendar with important dates (like the science fair, project deadlines, etc.).
- Lunch. You should discuss whether your child will buy or pack their lunch, especially younger children. While teens and pre-teens may be able to handle packing a lunch, younger children will need help, and regardless of age, your child may need lunch money. Your parenting plan may also include details concerning how lunch costs should be handled.
- Field trips and events. Keeping each other informed of permission slips and activity dates is important. Again, your parenting plan may include details concerning whether either party can sign a permission slip or sign up their child to participate in an activity or school event on dates the other party will have physical custody. Communication about these events is also important as you may wish to coordinate which parent will attend or chaperone events.
- Parent-teacher conferences. You should consider whether you can remain amicable and attend such conferences together or if you need to ask your child’s teacher to schedule separate meetings. During the meeting, regardless of whether you attend together or separately, avoid asking about or focusing on the other parent and keep the focus on your child and their progress. If you attend separately, you might consider communicating about what you learned and potential next steps via a co-parenting app.
- Detention or disciplinary action. Again, in this situation, communication is important. If your child is disciplined by the school or either parent because of a school-related incident, you should inform the other parent, especially if you both try to be consistent with punishment. Communicating is also important as detention can affect pick-up or drop-off times and exchanges; your parenting plan should include terms concerning how parents should be informed about potential changes to exchanges.
With decades of collective experience and a proven track record of success, the team at The Clark Law Firm is equipped to help our clients navigate child custody orvisitation cases. Whether you need help with an initial filing or a modification case, we are here to help you.
Schedule a case consultation today by calling (817) 435-4970 or completing our online form. We look forward to hearing from you.