Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts for Starting a New School Year as a Divorced Parent

By: Russell J. Frank, Esq.
Last Update: October 31, 2016

As another school year begins, sometimes the difficulties of joint child rearing can become more evident. Whether it's the scheduling of extra-curricular events or nightly study sessions, it is important that both parents are able to effectively communicate with each other in order to ensure academic success for their child. 

And, while the importance of co-parenting cannot be understated when it comes to your child’s education, of equal importance is ensuring that you, as a single parent, are doing everything you can individually to further your child’s educational journey. It is in this area that I would hope to provide some helpful guideposts for ensuring your child’s academic year gets off to a roaring success, so here are my top five do’s and don’ts for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Do's

1. Do maintain a positive outlook on school and educational activities

When we first start our learning process, from naming our body parts to the naming of the members of our families, education is seen as a fresh and exciting endeavor. Somehow, over time, that excitement can dull; however, if you remain positive, upbeat, and genuinely enthusiastic about your child’s educational opportunities, then it's more likely that enthusiasm will trickle down to your child.

2. Do ensure that you are actively involved 

This includes checking homework and the progress of grades and behavior throughout the year. The best way to ensure your child is doing well in school and keeping up with their daily assignments is to be an active participate in their education. Involve yourself in your child’s school work by reviewing homework and helping out on school-related projects.  

3. Do communicate with the other parent

Discuss both positive and negative issues that may affect your child’s educational development. While communication may be a problem for some parents, the simple fact remains that the better a child's parents can communicate with each other about their child's educational development, the more likely it is that the child will succeed.  

4. Do involve your child in the extra-curricular activities of their choice

Try to keep them in at least one activity at all times. Many times the best life lessons come not from the classroom, but from athletic fields and dance halls, so the more opportunities your child has to learn outside of the formal school setting, the more well-rounded your child may become.

5. Do keep open lines of communication between yourself and your child's teachers and educators

It’s important to never wait until it’s too late to address an academic issue, so if you notice something occurring with your child’s grades or behavior, it’s best to address these issues quickly and directly with your child’s teachers and educators. 

Don’ts

1. Don't wait for the other parent to inform you of school events or activities

Make sure you have a full school calendar of events and that you stay active with the school to ensure you are aware of all events and activities that your child may take part in. You will not want to rely on anyone else to provide this information for you, so the more active a role you can take with the school, the more information you will have access to so as not to miss any special days or events.  

2. Don't be afraid to set conferences with teachers on your own

If there are issues that prevent you from attending parent-teacher conferences with the other parent, you must be sure you are getting the most direct information related to your child's education  and in most cases that means communicating with the teacher directly to ensure your child’s academic success.  

3. Don't take a passive role in your child's educational development

Like in most situations in life, it's almost always better to be proactive than reactive, and that could not be more true when it comes to your child’s education. Be an active parent at your child’s school by volunteering when your schedule permits and attending all school events, activities, and ceremonies as they come up throughout the year.

4. Don't keep educational or social development issues from the other parent

Most, if not all, issues that arise with children will be better addressed if all of the adults in their lives recognize the issues and are on the same page as to how to deal with them. It should go without saying that any educational, emotional, or psychological issues that may arise need to be addressed by the entire familial unit, with each parent knowing everything there is to know about the issue and the best ways in which to address it.  

5. Don't forget to talk with your children

It's important to engage your children on a daily basis as to their educational and extra-curricular events and activities. It's not always best to pepper children with question after question, particularly as they get older, but the more you are able to develop a real dialogue with your children about how they spend and manage their days, the more likely it is your child will engage.  


Attorney Russell J. Frank is a partner at CPLS. P.A. and focuses his practice areas on family and marital law.


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