Getting back into the classroom after a summer of freedom can be difficult for any child. For a child whose parents have recently divorced or separated, adapting to the new reality of the school year can be even more challenging. Many children struggle with transitioning to a new grade, new teachers, or a new school, but add in the complications of a divorce and your child could quickly feel completely overwhelmed. As the school year ramps up, however, it is important for you and your ex-spouse to communicate with your child’s teachers so that they can be better aware of your child’s current environment.
Explain the Basics
Whether this is your child’s first year in school after the divorce or not, his or her teachers can be a tremendous source of extra support. However, they cannot know what is happening in your child’s life unless you tell them. Schedule a time, either at a parent-teacher conference at the school or during a simple phone call, to let the teacher know a little bit about your situation. There is no need, of course, to place blame for the divorce or go into personal details, but by including the teacher in the conversation, he or she can better provide guidance to your child throughout the year.
Whatever your agreement may be with your ex-spouse, communicate the necessary parts to the teacher. Remind the teacher that both your house and the other parent’s house are considered “home,” and that each of you are committed to providing an environment conducive to completing homework and assigned projects. Ask for multiple copies of classroom schedules and rules, so that neither of you are caught unaware of upcoming events or deadlines. It may also be helpful to ask the teacher for email reminders of certain things, as handouts to your child may take a few days to be seen by both parents.
Make sure that if your divorce or custody agreement places decision-making restrictions on either parent, your child’s teacher knows this. For example, you may want to clarify that all permission slips for class trips or activities must be signed by you. If you and your ex communicate well enough, this may not be necessary, in which case you can let the teacher know that either of you can provide appropriate permission.
It may also be helpful to provide the teacher with information he or she can use to identify potential problems. If your parenting time, for example, is Monday through Wednesday and the other parent’s time is Thursday through Saturday, make the teacher aware of transition days, which can often be more difficult for the child. This can also help the teacher distinguish between your child’s real struggles and convenient excuses for missed or subpar work.
Rely on Experience
As a professional educator, your child’s teacher has probably taught dozens if not hundreds of children with divorced parents. With that in mind, he or she may even be able to provide you with some tips on how you can best support your child’s education despite the challenges. Similarly, an experienced Kane County family law attorney can offer reliable advice on how to structure a custody agreement that best meets your child’s needs. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule your free consultation with our knowledgeable team today.