As elementary and high school students throughout the Clarksville area head back to school this fall, many will struggle to adjust to new schedules and routines. However, for children whose parents recently divorced or separated, the changes related to starting a new school year-along with the related struggles, are likely to be greater in both number and magnitude.
For a child, adjusting to all of the changes that accompany a divorce or separation can be especially stressful and difficult. To help children cope, parents who share physical custody must work to effectively communicate and come to an agreement about things that impact their child’s academic success and emotional development and wellbeing.
Here are five things that recently divorced or separated parents should discuss and get on the same page about prior to the start of a child’s school year:
- Custody schedule – Children thrive when they have a predictable routine and know what to expect. It’s important, therefore, that your child knows when he or she is taking the bus to dad’s house after school or being picked up by mom.
- After school routine – While some variations in routine are unavoidable, parents should discuss when a child needs to do certain things like complete homework assignments and eat dinner.
- Bedtime – School-aged children need between eight to 12 hours of sleep each night. To ensure that a child is well rested and able to concentrate and learn, parents should discuss and agree upon a set bedtime.
- Discipline – Every child tests boundaries and parents should discuss and get on the same page about how they plan to handle discipline.
- Participation in academic and athletic activities and clubs – While participating in academic and/or athletic clubs can benefit a child, doing so is also a time commitment and parents must ensure that they are able to transport a child and fulfill all related obligations.
Adjusting to a divorce or separation can be difficult for all family members. For children, the start of a new school year may be especially difficult after a divorce or separation. By taking a proactive approach and resolving to set aside differences and come together for the sake of a child, parents can make the back-to-school transition easier.