Helping your child prepare to start a new school year might leave you feeling anxious and jittery. The list of things you need to do is long, and the first day of school may have even snuck up on you quicker than you realized! This can all be even more overwhelming if you went through a divorce over the summer, and are dealing with back-to-school activities as a single father for the first time.
Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. In this blog, we give you the five most important things to nail down before the first day of school in order to help your child have the best possible start to the new school year!
- Make Sure You Have Arranged Pickups, Drop-Offs, And Transportation For After-School Activities.
It’s obviously important to make sure you have nailed down a schedule for how your child will get to school, get home from school, and get to and from after-school activities or extracurriculars. You should know if your child will be able to ride the bus to school based on the routes they offer and location of your and your ex-spouse’s home. Then, you should double check the times at which the bus picks up and drops off. Often, these will be off-kilter times like “2:37,” so you’ll want to record the exact time in order to avoid being late.
In the event your child will not ride a bus to school, both parents should have a plan for who will take them to school, who will pick them up, or how you will both divide those responsibilities. If neither of you are able to handle some part of the duties because of work schedules or other obligations, who can? Will you hire a babysitter or nanny? Will a family member step in to assist?
Finally, if your child participates in after-school activities or extracurriculars, you will also need to have transportation secured. Many divorced co-parents have found that using calendar or scheduling apps that both can edit is helpful in eliminating errors of communication. For a list of some of those apps, check here.
With 180 days in a school year, it is highly unlikely that your child will never miss the bus to school, or that someone won’t be late picking them up from soccer practice because of a simple mixup. You aren’t a robot, and being perfect isn’t the goal. What matters is that you and your co-parent are working as a team to make a plan and doing the best you can to stick to it.
- Make Sure Your Child Has All Of The School Supplies They Need Before The First Day.
Different parents handle shopping for school supplies in different ways: some love helping their kids pick out a nice pack of pencils, a colorful array of crayons, and a brand new backpack featuring their favorite cartoon character. Others dread fighting the crowds in the stores and having to convince their child that the generic brand markers do the same job as the name-brand. Either way, you and your co-parent will need to discuss the supplies your children will need and how they will get them. Usually, their new teacher will give out the list of necessary supplies during “Meet The Teacher” or “Open House.” Once you have the list, you can both decide who will be responsible for purchasing which items.
In addition to school supplies, your child will likely need a few new shirts, pants, and shoes. Depending on your unique situation, you may already contribute child support that is slated for purchasing things like this. However, just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you should dump all shopping responsibilities on your child’s mother! A simple offer to help can go a long way to showing you are willing to work together.
- Open A Line Of Communication With Your Child’s Teacher(s).
Both you and your co-parent should be involved in your shared children’s education. This starts by opening a line of communication with their teachers. When you really think about it, your kids are at school for more hours of the day than they are with you. Their teachers can provide invaluable information that goes beyond their school performance, such as changes in behavior that reflect their mental and emotional state.
If the divorce was especially hard on your child, you may want to communicate that to the new teacher, so that they can report back to you if they notice anything important about their demeanor. You may also want to inform them of other relevant information, such as who picks your child up on what day, who to call if the child gets sick, or if you’d like to schedule conferences separately from your ex.
No matter how amicable (or not) the relationship you have with your ex is, it is vital that your child see – and know – that both of their parents are invested in their education and well-being.
- Review The Agreed Upon Parenting Plan, Visitation Schedule, Or Custody Arrangement And Revise If Needed.
When you and your spouse finalized your divorce, you likely agreed upon (or had a judge determine) how custody would be divided, a schedule for visitation time, or created a parenting plan that encompassed these factors. Before your child starts a new school year, it may behoove you to review the agreements and determine if modifications need to be made. A family law attorney that is experienced in modifying custody agreements could help you advocate for necessary changes if you believe your co-parent would not be receptive to it. If you both have an amicable relationship, however, a modification attorney could collaborate with you both to reach a satisfying arrangement.
- Be An Active Part Of Your Child’s Education.
There is no one right way to accomplish this. There are an endless amount of things you can do to show your child that you care about their education, whether that looks like spending a late night helping them with the math homework they forgot was due tomorrow, showing up for their science fair, or chaperoning their field trip to the zoo, they will look back and remember the time and effort you invested in them. Never underestimate the impact just a small action can have on the relationship you have with your children!
Call The Men’s Divorce Law Firm If Legal Action Is Needed For You To Be The Best Father You Can Be
The Men’s Divorce Law Firm is passionate about advocating for the rights of men and fathers. If your ex-spouse is preventing you from being an active member of your child’s life and helping them successfully start a new school year, call to request a consultation and learn more about how we can step in and make a difference. You can rely on the experience and knowledge of our dedicated team of attorneys.