Staying Involved with Your Child's School After Divorce or Separation
It's so important to children that their parents are involved with their school conferences and activities because it shows that THEY are important to their parents. It's a parenting basic that is usually second nature in most families.
After divorce or separation, though, parents sometimes don't get along well enough to participate in these activities together. One or both parents might stop attending school events, especially if they cannot tolerate being in the same room as the other parent. If you find yourself in this situation, there are still ways for both of you to participate in the children's school activities.
The best solution is to address the issue in the parenting plan at the time of separation or divorce. Specify that both parents will have access to school information and records and that both parents will be allowed to participate in parent-teacher conferences and attend school activities.
For parents who are getting along well, the plan can include a mechanism for coordinating schedules if you are going to attend together. However, the plan should also include a mechanism for arranging alternate attendance if it's better to avoid being there at the same time.
Even when you have a fairly amicable divorce or separation, things can come up in the future that puts a strain on your ability to get along with the other parent. The parenting plan can include a clause that, with written notice, either parent can request that you stop attending school events together and switch to the alternate arrangement. Having that alternate in place from the beginning will make that transition easy.
Generally, schools send home information about conferences and other school activities with the children, often on the same day each week. However, schools and teachers are generally very accommodating to parents who need information sent to both parents separately or need to schedule separate parent-teacher conferences as long as the request is made politely and without providing negative information about why you are making the request.
If you want information sent directly to you, make a request in person or in writing. Because schools are often underfunded, provide them with self-addressed stamped envelopes to make it easy to send information to you. Build a good relationship with your child's teachers with regular positive telephone or email contact focused only on the child.
Even if you and your ex are not able to participate in school activities together, take the time to establish your own relationship with the school. Your children will be excited that you take so much interest in them and what they're doing in school. And you will be the involved parent you want to be.
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