Dealing with School as Co-Parents

A new school year brings changes for parents and children alike. When you are approaching the start of a school year on the heels of a legal separation or divorce, there are going to be some additional challenges you will have to face. To reduce everyone’s stress and make the transition to a two-parent household smoother, give these situations some thought before your child heads off on his or her first day.

Projects and Homework

In an ideal situation, co-parents will be a unified front when it comes to expectations for their child’s studying and homework. While school-aged children can usually adapt to a new routine fairly easily, both co-parents will need to define expectations so the children don’t let work slip at one house.
Work with your co-parent on getting your child into a routine for studying and homework completion that he or she can follow in each co-parent’s house. As your child goes between homes, keep track of where their essential school items are. While it should be your child’s responsibility to keep everything together, it won’t hurt to glance over their bag before they go to their other parent’s home.
On occasion, your child may have a presentation or other big project to do. While these types of assignments may not require all your attention, do your best to stay on the same page with your co-parent.

School Conferences

The parent-teacher conference is important because you will gain insight into how your child is doing in school. It’s important to try to attend these meetings with your co-parent, and always keep the discussion focused on the child. If the teacher does ask about your parenting arrangement, keep your answers honest as it can help them understand your child’s behavior.
After you attend the conference, be sure to discuss what you learned with your child, even if your co-parent has already done so. This will show that both of you are committed to your child’s academic life, something he or she will appreciate and grow from.

School Events

Field trips are a highlight for many kids during the school year. Have a plan in place detailing how you will give your co-parent field trip details and any related costs you’ll be sharing. This will prevent misunderstandings about both the trip logistics and the payment responsibilities of each parent.
Sometimes, the school will ask for volunteer chaperones on field trips. Although you may not make every one, try to do at least one per year, and encourage your co-parent to do the same. For other school events, coordinate with your co-parent so you know who is attending which event.

School Lunches

Whether your child will be buying lunch each day or bringing it in, you need to have a plan for handling it. If your child is old enough and packs his or her lunch, make sure you have nutritious options that will keep your child feeling full over the course of the school day. If you haven’t handled lunches before, prep them the night before to give yourself a little extra time in the morning.
You’ll need a plan in place to handle lunch costs if your child will be buying it each day. Look over your parenting agreement if you have a final one, as that may cover lunch costs. If you don’t have a plan yet or it doesn’t address lunch costs, speak to your co-parent about it. You may want to contact your family law attorney for some guidance if you can’t reach a decision about the school lunch expense with your co-parent.