As back to school is approaching for children, this can be a time of uncertainty and fear for children who have parents going through, or have finalized, a divorce or separation. Children are already experiencing significant changes within the going back to school period, such as transitioning to a different school, transitioning to a different grade, and having new teachers. Below encompasses a few tips on how parents can keep the focus on the children during this period.
Parents should be encouraged to reach out to school counselors and teachers prior to the children going back to school to ensure that the child has extra support if needed. Often times, a child is heavily impacted by their parents’ divorce or separation no matter what stage the divorce or separation is in. Relaying the new circumstances to the school (teachers, counselors, etc.) provides insight to the school as to why the child may be acting out or acting differently. Ensuring extra support at school allows the school staff to adapt to the child’s circumstances.
To go a step further, ensuring that the child has a counselor outside of school prior to the child going back to school also allows for the child to have another outlet during this shifting period of their life.
A second tip for parents is to establish consistency prior to the child going back to school. This includes the child’s morning routine, how the child will be getting to and from school, etc. Establishing consistency prior to school provides an opportunity for the child to already have a routine while the child is going through a huge life change with his/her parents’ divorce or separation. Minimizing more change and establishing consistency prior to the child going back to school allows for the child to have time to adapt to the new circumstances of school and life.
A third back to school tip for parents who are going through a divorce or separation and have children is to ensure that both parents are communicating and establishing a plan prior to school. For example, especially with younger children, parents are encouraged to communicate about the first day of school plans in hopes that both parents can put aside their differences and attend the first day of school activities. This can provide the child with the view that the child’s parents maintain a united front by putting the child first, even during a divorce or separation. The parents are also encouraged to communicate about after-school activities, school procedures, classroom procedures, etc. so that both parents are on a similar page, and staying involved, in the child’s life.
Generally, these back to school tips help provide parents with guidelines and structure to hopefully minimize the impact the parents’ situation has on the child(ren).