The lazy, hazy days of summer will soon be gone, only to be replaced with the frenetic days of a new school year. Despite the grumblings from your children about returning to school, most children are actually ready to resume the routine that school brings. The beginning of the school year is exciting. Your child will be happy to see friends and to meet their teachers, but it can also be a time of uncertainty and worry. They might be concerned about how they will do this year in school, if their friends are in their classes, or if they will like their teachers. It can be especially difficult for those students attending a brand new school, or those who are transitioning from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school.
As parents, we want to be sure to help our children get off to a smooth start to the new school year. It can especially be a challenge if you are sharing custody with a former spouse or if you are the non-custodial parent. For those of you who operate under a shared parenting plan and split parenting time, say every other week, or every two weeks, it is important that you help your child to adjust to the new year and the new routine. For example, when it is your turn to have your child stay with you, don’t just assume that your child will bring everything he or she will need. Consider having duplicate supplies, clothes; and if the school is willing, extra sets of text books. It can be disorienting to the child if he or she is constantly worrying about where everything is. Although in many cases I realize that this is not a feasible suggestion, but for the sake of your children you should try and speak with your ex-spouse and try to establish the same study routine. If this is just something that will never happen, do speak with your child so that he or she clearly understand the rules at your house. For example, you might expect that they will get their homework done right when they return home, but your ex-spouse may not find that of importance. Calmly let your child know what your rules and expectations are and that their mother or father may do it differently when they are staying with them. Tell them that is okay, but your way will work better the time that they are with you.
For those of you who have to live in a different state than your children, you face different challenges. Fortunately, technology has made us all much better equipped to stay in touch. Most all schools have web-sites, and teachers have their own page which will help you to get acquainted with the school and the teacher. Many teachers, especially at the elementary level, post regular weekly newsletters telling about what is happening that week. Many upper-level teachers post assignments and grades on line. Email your child’s teacher and introduce yourself letting the teacher know that even though you live out of state, you would like to be an integral part of your child’s education. Some teachers are willing to conduct phone conferences or web-cam conferences. Earlier this year I posted an article on our blog that gives suggestions on how you can keep in touch with your child’s teacher and school. Please click here if you would like to read the article in its entirety.
In any event, it is important for our children to know that we care about what they are doing in school. I hope that this school year is a happy and successful one for your child!
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.