Children need a community of adults who are on their team, helping them learn and grow and thrive. The transition back to school is an important time to set up systems and routines, lay out expectations for every member of the family and establish a sense of predictability.
While every situation will look different, there are some steps that parents can take to make back to school transitions smother for their children.
- Create a visual calendar that lets kids see which parent they’ll be with each day of the week, doctor appointments, after-school activities, etc. The simple visual aid helps put the child’s life in context, letting them know what’s coming next and reducing their anxiety.
- Parents should also keep a shared calendar. There are numerous co-parenting focused apps available for download that provide a shared calendar, or you can use Google Calendar so that each parent can mark important school dates, medical appointments, children’s activities, etc.
- While no two homes are the same, as co-parents you can establish some basic morning, after-school and bedtime routines. Also, it’s essential to have clearly laid out policies on homework, watching television, playtime and meals that are consistent in each household. If you can set up similar guidelines in both houses, your kids will know what’s expected.
- Prep the teachers. To minimize confusion, inform your children’s teachers of their family situation no matter the age of the child. Provide an overview of their routines – who’ll be dropping them off and picking them up each day. Also, alerting teachers about the divorce gives them an opportunity to show understanding and emotional support if the child shows stress, is distracted, not completing homework or acts out.
It’s important to focus on what’s best for the child. Have consistent rules, expectations and provide support. Consistency in parental expectations and discipline provides security and structure for the children.
It’s hard to shift from summer playtime to school work, so don’t be surprised if you see some resistance when school starts. Give your children time to adjust before you become concerned about them. Let your child know that both of you and your co-parent are there for comfort and support.