Back to school can be stressful for children and parents; some greet it with joyful excitement, while others are anxious and worried when the summer holidays are over. For separated or divorced parents, this can be a difficult time. Here are a few tips so that your child (and you) will enjoy a smoother transition back into the school year routine.

Tell the teacher about the divorce

If the separation occurs during the summer, alert your child’s teacher.  Ask the teacher for opportunities to show understanding and emotional support if the child shows stress, is distracted, does not complete homework, or acts out.Teachers can greatly support your child during the day, so positively utilize them for your child.


Talk to your co-parent about your child’s schedule and what each of you will handle about expenses, supplies, pre-first-day requirements for registration, etc.  Make sure you are on the same page about drop-offs, pick-ups, and extracurricular activities. It is also important to talk to your child about their schedule and what they can expect for the upcoming year.

Get Organized

The start of a new school year comes with a lot of paperwork.  Confirm who will complete the paperwork and share the information with your co-parent.  Consider rotating the responsibility each  year.  Assuming no court orders stating otherwise, each parent’s information should be included on the school forms, and the teacher should be aware of your situation and how to reach each parents.  This will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Have a conversation about back-to-school supplies

Discuss who is buying what for back-to-school supplies. Preparing for these expenses will help eliminate the child feeling as if they are being placed in the middle of their parent’s conflict and therefore going without the necessities of school needs.

First day of School

If dropping your child off on the first day of school is important to you, speak to your co-parent about perhaps doing this together on the first day of school.  It may be tough to do as parents, but it is an important day that will speak volumes to your child.

Set up a Shared Family Calendar

This is a great way to keep everyone aware of what is happening with the children.  You can even share it with the children (depending on age), so they know who’s picking them up, family vacations, activities, homework deadlines, appointments, etc.

Make sure the child’s backpack stays with the child

To help your child stay on track and complete homework assignments on time, their assignment folder and necessary books and materials must accompany them from home to home.  The backpack belongs to the child and not the parent.

Attend Parent-Teacher conferences together if possible

While some parents request separate parent-teacher conferences, it is always best for parents to attend together when possible.  Attending together makes it easier on the teachers and shows the teacher that everyone is on the same team when it comes to supporting your child. If you can’t be there for some reason – due to a business trip or if you reside far away from the school, ask if you can call in or video conference.

Plan for Inclement Weather

Not all separation agreements speak to who is responsible for taking the children when bad weather arises.  The unpredictability of those scenarios can lead to confusion and anger.  If these situations can be planned out in advance, it can minimize conflict in the future.

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