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Co-Parenting and Back to School

Co-Parenting Tips For the School Year

Summer is just heating up, but the new school year will be here before you know it (it always creeps up quickly!). We've talked about the do's and don'ts of co-parenting before, but sending the kids back to school again can create a whole new set of difficulties.

It's a dynamic that I've counseled parents through many times. While it can be tricky, there are ways to make the transition as smooth as possible for you, your child, and the other parent. Follow these back to school tips to help everyone have a great start to the new school year.

First, commit to a positive co-parenting experience throughout the year

Co-parenting doesn't happen in a vacuum, and you need to make a commitment to a positive co-parenting plan outside of the back to school timeframe. Having a solid foundation to draw from will make big events like these far easier to handle.

If you're stumped on how to create these positive experiences with your child's other parent, review our post about 5 ways to co-parent more effectively . Some parents can also benefit from the structure and support of co-parenting counseling .

Create a plan for the school year

It's important to outline expectations and roles before the school year begins. You might even want to write it all down so there's no room for confusion (shared calendars are another useful tool for keeping track of everything). Outlining the simplest things, like who is supposed to bring your child's gear to baseball practice, can save you both from arguments and frustration.

Regular family meetings are also helpful, even if you can only schedule them once per month. This gives everyone the chance to learn how things are going in each other's daily lives and is an effective way to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Determine how back to school shopping will be handled

Purchasing back to school supplies, clothes, and other essentials can become a battleground if you aren't careful. It's a big job that should be divided amongst both parents if possible.

If you have a contentious relationship with your co-parent it's easy to get caught up in small battles. Try to remember the bigger picture and compromise to the best of your ability on things like clothing and school supplies choices.

Set expectations around schoolwork and activities

School-aged children need routines, especially where homework and other school projects are concerned. Will there be pre-determined homework times that apply to both homes? Will one parent help with Math and Science projects, while another will tackle English and History? There's no right or wrong way to set these boundaries and expectations, but setting them is incredibly important to your child's academic success.

Additional back to school considerations for co-parents

We've touched on some of the bigger issues regarding the school year, but here are a few additional things you should discuss:

  • After school activities

  • Attendance at school performances, sporting events, and other events

  • Attendance at parent teacher conferences, orientations, and other similar events

  • Step parent involvement, if applicable

With proper planning, communication, and commitment to the well-being of your children, it's very possible to successfully co-parent before, during, and long after the school year.