When children return back to school after divorce, a typically challenging time can be even more difficult. Learn how to ease the transition.
School is starting again, and a number of children returning to school after their parents’ divorce. Children may experience feelings of insecurity about what their future holds and not have the tools or experience to manage these fears. Allowing children to express concerns or negative feelings will help parents see the situation through their children’s eyes. Additionally, allowing the children see that their parents are managing these changes with “a plan” is reassuring and can assist with the transition. Advance planning by the parents can improve children’s post divorce back to school experience.
Children may be experiencing one or more of the most common back to school changes including:
Both parents should discuss the move with their children well in advance. Observing the new neighborhood to ascertain how it “feels” is crucial for children to feel more comfortable. Parents should make time to introduce themselves to the neighbors. This encourages a safer community and allows parents to discover if there are children of similar age or interest nearby.
Find out about the school in advance. Look at the school website and talk to other parents. Introduce yourselves to school staff. Walk around the grounds and buildings of the new school to familiarize yourself with your children’s classroom, lunchroom, library, gym, office, and nurse. When talking to school personnel, refrain from disparaging the other parent. Make sure that you and the other parent show legal documentation of parenting information in case your children is unsure of school pickups, schedules, or transitions. Keep a positive attitude geared toward your child’s education. Simply state that you look forward to working with school personnel and that both parents expect a positive school experience. Keep the lines of communication open in case troubleshooting is needed later.
Adjusting to a Two-Home Environment
Transitioning from one home to two homes can be seamless when parents coordinate daily routines and schedules. Setting up both homes in a similar manner by allowing children to have their belongings at both homes and allowing them some say in the décor promotes a comfortable setting. With school back in session, creating a homework area is a must so that academic endeavors are seen as important at both homes. Keep a family calendar so that children can be informed of upcoming activities and opportunities to interact with the other parent.
Transitioning From a Summer to Back to School
Encourage thoughtful adjustments. Allow children to reminisce about the high points of their summer with both parents. Put memorabilia, drawings, or written accounts into a book, journal, or scrapbook to share at both homes. Discuss the change of parenting time and familiarize the children with parent availability for activities, events, and homework assistance at both homes.
Friends May Change
Taking children out of their usual social routines creates tension and loneliness. Allow children to keep in touch with friends old and new through phone calls, play dates, and involvement in extracurricular activities. Reaching out to peers is an integral part of a child’s social development.
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