Back to School: Keeping Both Parents Involved
A child’s success in school is a primary concern for every parent, and with the start of each school year, both parents and children must face new challenges. With the prospect of meeting teachers and classmates, adjusting to a new daytime routine, and handling homework every night, kids have a lot on their minds as the summer winds down.
Parents also experience newfound stress during this transitional period, but divorced or separated parents can find this time of year more difficult to tackle. Some of this anxiety stems from the perception that it’ll be difficult to keep you both involved during the school year. But if you take a little initiative, you and your co-parent can create a plan that allows everyone to stay in the loop.
What you should do before the first day of school
Keeping both parents involved during the back to school transition and throughout the academic year is helpful in supporting your child’s success in school. Before their first day, parents should lay out a blueprint schedule for the year. Many teachers or schools will post their calendars online, so work with these as well as your personal schedules to get a snapshot of what the school year will look like for your family.
If your schedule is different during the summer versus the school year, consult your parenting plan to determine how your parenting time will be changing. Work with your co-parent to document weekday pick-ups and drop-offs, weekends, and breaks. Once everything is settled, make sure both of you have equal access to the schedule so you can both stay informed.
Families who are using OurFamilyWizard for their co-parenting communication should also take the time to upload the contact information of teachers to the Info Bank. Parents can also document their child’s class schedule, if necessary.
Both parents should also take their child to get new school supplies – one set for each home, even if it’s just a few small items. Each parent can have time to bond with their child over choosing new pencils and notebooks, and when school arrives, your child will always have the tools they need to get their homework done when they’re with either parent.
Staying on track throughout the year
Keeping both parents involved in scheduling for the school year is vital to promote a smooth transition, but it is just as important to keep your child’s school connected to what is happening within your family life. Divorce or separation can be very hard on kids, creating issues in the classroom. Schedule a time to meet with your child’s teacher or school counselor, either together or separately, to let them know what is going on at home. Explaining the situation can help the teacher be more aware of your child’s emotional state. Your kids will be spending the majority of their time in school, and teachers care about their students' well-being. Most teachers will appreciate being kept up to date about anything major affecting their students.
But as you already know, it’s not just efforts on the teacher’s part that will keep your child’s education on track. Parental involvement during the school-year also has an immense positive impact on a child’s academic progress. When parents are engaged in their child’s school life, the whole family can work together to promote learning and eagerness about education.
Throughout the school-year, you and your co-parent should make it a goal to show enthusiasm about your child’s classes and education. In order to stay engaged, you will both need to maintain open lines of communication about your child’s school days and nightly homework.
Using OurFamilyWizard makes education-related communication incredibly simple. Co-parents can:
- Post important daily updates using the Journal feature. Those entries can later be compiled into detailed and organized reports when needed.
- Upload report cards, permission slips, homework, and other important documents to the MyFiles section of the Info Bank.
- Document fees for extracurricular activities, field trips, and school supplies in the Expense Log and reimburse each other when necessary.
Co-parents can also keep older children connected with the schedule by creating an OFW child account for them. Child accounts have restricted permissions so your kids will only have access to child-appropriate information. They’ll be able to view their schedule and events, create journal entries, and send messages with their parents.
No matter what system you and your co-parent use to stay engaged this year, keeping both of you involved in your child’s educational needs is one of the most effective ways to ensure a successful school year. So be sure to plan ahead and get your schedules figured out before the first day, keep teachers informed, and make a plan to stay engaged throughout the year.
Set clear expectations for keeping each other informed
School is already complicated enough as it is, and there are even more moving parts with distance and hybrid learning. It is vital that parents have an organized, agreed-upon method for keeping each other informed and a way to hold each co-parent accountable.
Consider leveraging a third-party tool to help ensure two- communication lines remain open. For example, the OurFamilyWizard co-parenting app provides a secure, shared space to upload the contact information of teachers and document their child’s schedule.
Here are some additional things parents might want to consider making centrally accessible to stay organized and aligned:
- Records of any equipment received from the school, such as laptops or tablets
- Individual education plan (IEP) documents updated for distance and hybrid learning
- School information packets regarding how they’ll transition back to in-person schooling
- Child login credentials for any online learning platforms, if applicable
Demonstrate engagement throughout the year
Keeping both parents involved in scheduling for the school year is vital to promote a smooth transition, but it is just as important to keep your child’s school connected to what is happening within your family life. Divorce or separation can be very hard on kids, creating issues in the classroom.
Schedule a call with your child’s teacher, either together or separately, to let them know what is going on at home. Explaining the situation can help the teacher be more aware of your child’s emotional state. Most teachers will appreciate staying up to date about anything major affecting their students.
But as you already know, it’s not just the teachers who play a critical role in ensuring a successful school year. Parental involvement also has an immensely positive impact on a child’s academic progress. When parents are engaged in their child’s school life, the whole family can work together to promote learning and eagerness about education.
Throughout the school year, you and your co-parent should make it a goal to show enthusiasm about your child’s classes and education. This will be especially important in a virtual class environment.
Keep the lines of communication open
Managing the stress and speed of the school year requires effective and productive communication. Whether it is about your child’s schedule, assignments, or performance in the classroom, there will be a lot to keep up with.
Again, consider using a co-parenting tool to facilitate effective communication and alignment on all things school and child-related. Best-in-class solutions offer a myriad of helpful features including the ability to easily:
- Add daily updates that can later be compiled into detailed and organized reports
- Upload report cards, homework, and other important documents to a shared space
- Request and track one-time parenting schedule changes as well as document any longer-term parenting agreement updates
No matter how you and your co-parent decide to maintain communication and engagement with your child’s school year, keeping both of you involved is one of the most effective ways to ensure academic success. So be sure to get things figured out so you are ready to manage a new school year.