Tips for Separated and Divorced Parents When Dealing with School
Staying Involved in Your Child’s Education
Millions of parents today are faced with the difficult question of how to remain involved with their child’s education while being separated from their former spouse or partner. While relationship difficulties are often hard to overcome, it is important for the sake of students that both parents learn to work together to form some kind of agreement of how each will play a role in their child’s education. Teachers are always willing to encourage parents to remain involved in their child’s life.
Here are some ways to make the home-school transition easier :
Being Involved At School
There are many opportunities for you, as parents, to come into the school setting to show support for you child. Open house nights, parent-teacher conferences, school performances, art shows, and family activity nights are all great ways to show your child how much you value education. Some of these activities are scheduled in advance, making it easier for separated parents to each schedule their own times to meet with teachers.
Be sure each parent contacts the teacher to set up a meeting time, so that the teacher can communicate with both parents. For other activities with more open-ended schedules, parents should communicate between each other to share the experience with their child. For example, perhaps one parent could bring the child to the art show at the beginning and the other parent could meet and share the rest of the show with their child later; other times parents could trade activity nights.
Whatever the arrangement that is best for your individual circumstance, it is important that both parents remain involved with the school so that education continues to be a priority for your child.
Communication and Organization
Teachers want to be sure that each parent has appropriate communication between home and school. This allows great news to be shared, progress to be monitored, and difficulties to be addressed. If there are two different households who must receive information such as report cards, important school policies, and progress reports, be sure to inform the classroom teacher of your needs, whether there should be information mailed to another address, or that duplicate forms need to be sent home.
This will allow information to be given out regularly. In addition, be sure to give contact information for each parent, so that the teacher can communicate effectively with everyone involved.
In addition to home-school communication, it is important that your child has an organized method of traveling between residences or caregivers. By having both caregivers aware of student schedules (gym days, after school practices, etc.), homework policies, upcoming projects, and emergency procedures, stress is greatly reduced on both the families and the children.
If another set of texts is needed for a project at both residences, or if there are copies of materials that are needed at both locations, be sure to request what is needed from the teacher ahead of time so that information can be sent before it is needed. Also agree on responsibilities of special events and projects, so there is less conflict when assignments are due or games are scheduled.
All in all, the essential element in remaining a part of your child’s education is communication. By putting aside family differences, you will more easily be able to work out manageable solutions to meeting your child’s educational needs. By having both parents remain involved, students have a better understanding of the value of their education and effort in school.
If you need assistance in dealing with family issues that are impacting your ability to remain involved with your child’s education, be sure to contact your child’s teacher or guidance counselor for assistance in that area. They’ll be glad to help.
A Note on Documentation
Sometimes there are family situations which become adversarial in nature. At these times, the courts often become involved in the management and scheduling of family interests. If your family has particular instructions from a legal authority, such as restraining orders, visitation requirements, guardianship, or other legal documentation, it may be important that those documents are forwarded to your local school.
Especially in circumstances where your student’s safety is involved, it is important to forward necessary relevant information. More information regarding what should be forwarded and to whom it should be given is available from your personal legal counsel or school administrator. Please consult these individuals about your particular experience.
"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings.
Her publications: Tips from the Teacher provides useful hints and "tricks of the trade" that you can use at home to boost your child's academic progress year after year. And Homelinks Teacher Tools for Communicating with Parents New Skills Strategies, Newsletters and Home Communication Tools for Teachers(grades 2-8)
More Child Education Resources:
US Dept. of Education
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