When your kids head back to school, it can be a stressful event even if they don’t mind going. There is the school supply shopping, doctor’s appointments and schedule changes that occur with preparing for the school year. When you add in a big change over the summer, such as your New Mexico divorce or separation, you, your children and your co-parent may be feeling a little bit anxious about the return to school. To keep things running as smoothly as possible while everyone adjusts to the changes, here are four tips.
Make supply shopping a team effort
Children, especially younger ones, often enjoy the shopping for their new school supplies for the year. Coordinate your school supply purchases with your co-parent as much as possible, and have a plan in place for handling the costs. If you have school supply expenses in your parenting plan, follow that if possible.
Beyond the costs, you should coordinate store trips to buy the supplies, even if one parent is responsible for most of the items and the other must only get a few. You can also pick up things they will need for homework, like new crayons and paper. When both parents get basic supplies, it sends the message to the child that both parents are interested in his or her education, and that makes for more excitement over the upcoming year.
Speak to teachers and coaches
It has probably already been a difficult summer for the family, and your children may carry some of that stress into their school year. They could express it by staying quiet in class, acting out, not getting all their homework done, or not showing any interest in activities they enjoyed in past years. Consider letting your child’s coaches, counselors, teachers and any other adults who will interact with him or her regularly over the school year know about the separation or divorce. This enables those adults to understand where some of your child’s behaviors are coming from and give them insight on how to best handle it. If any contact information has changed, be sure to update the school.
Take your child to visit the school
If your child is going to a new school this year, see if he or she can visit that school before the first day. A new school can be a scary experience for kids, and it may be magnified by the changes he or she has experienced at home. Walk with your child to their new classrooms, the lunchroom and other areas they will need to know about. If your child has some sense of direction on the first day of a new school, it can make a positive impact on his or her overall experience.
Have discussions about school
Encourage your child to talk about school each day after he or she gets home. If the standard “How as your day?” isn’t getting much of a response from your child, get more creative. You can, for example, try asking what the most interesting thing they learned that day was, what was served for lunch and how their friends are doing. Even if you’re not getting a lot of information, this will let your child know you are interested in school and his or her life, and that can go a long way.
After a divorce or separation, prepping your child for the return to school often becomes about more than just buying supplies; you want them to be as confident as possible at the start of the new year. Regardless of your family’s circumstances at the moment, focus on making the return to school a positive team effort to give your child the best shot at success.