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Back-to-school tips for newly-divorced parents

Back-to-school time is challenging for any parent. However, for newly-divorced parents, handling things like orientation night, permission forms and sign-ups to participate in classroom activities or field trips, can make newly-single parents feel nervous and awkward.

While it may seem like there are a lot of divorced parents in the world, many school activities are still largely geared towards two-parent families — or at least it can feel that way. The good news is that with the increasing number “non-traditional” families, there is a move to train teachers on how to overcome assumptions about what a “traditional” family is so that kids aren’t made to feel uncomfortable about their family.

One teacher, who is also a divorced mother, said that it’s best if parents can let their children’s teachers know what the family situation is so that they can help them accommodate and do what’s best for the kids. They can also talk to school administrators, guidance counselors and coaches, with the expectation that these conversations are confidential. For parents who are concerned about how their children are handling the divorce, it may be wise to share that with the adults who will be interacting with them all day.

Some parents prefer to attend parent-teacher conferences together. For others, there’s just too much animosity, so it’s best if the teacher meets separately with each parent.

The teacher notes that they can also work to ensure that they communicate the same information to both parents regarding assignments, grades and any issues their children may be having. The fact that so much of this is now done electronically makes that easier.

Parents shouldn’t be afraid to ask for whatever they need from their children’s schools to help them better parent their kids. That may mean sending out two report cards, two newsletters and even getting two sets of textbooks. If children split their time between their parents’ homes, this can save them a lot of lugging around of books (and eliminate excuses not to study). Obviously, some schools are in a better position financially to provide an extra set of books than others, but it’s worth asking.

The first school year after a separation or divorce will likely be the most difficult. However, as your kids get older and move on to other schools, you’ll need to be prepared to make some of these arrangements multiple times.

Source: The Washington Post, “How to manage back-to-school situations when you’re newly divorced,” Erin Silver, Aug. 05, 2016

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