Back to school planning can be stressful, and perhaps more so for two household families. Even for separated and divorced parents who have successfully navigated their way through co-parenting, going back to school usually brings its own set of struggles. This year is no different as families face a new back to school challenge: COVID-19. As you, your ex and your child prepare for the upcoming school year, there are a few things to consider to help minimize the stress and confusion that often accompany the start of the school year.
Review Your Parenting Agreement or Order
Revisiting your Parenting Agreement or Order now may reduce scheduling problems during the school year. Each year transporting children to and from school, arranging after school care, and coordinating the children’s schedules for extracurricular activities present challenges for many co-parents. With the introduction of COVID-19 this year, things have gotten a bit more complicated. For many families, virtual learning will create new obstacles regarding your child’s schedule, especially during the other parent’s parenting time.
If necessary, contact your family law attorney about making any modification or adjustments to your child custody agreement that are beneficial in addressing your family’s new circumstances.
Talk to Your Kids
Many adults are concerned about health-related uncertainties resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the many changes that have been implemented in response to the virus. Whether you know it or not, children feel the impact of these changes and likely have concerns as well. Now is the time to have age-appropriate, honest conversations with your children about what to expect, especially when it comes to back to school.
Update Emergency Contact Information
If possible, both parents should be listed as emergency contacts at their children’s school, given the COVID-19 pandemic and possibility of instances of the virus at school. Parents should have a plan in place for what happens in the event there is an outbreak at their child’s school, their child contracts the virus, and what to do if either parent contracts COVID-19.
Plan Ahead for Expenses
In this new age of virtual learning, school supplies and school-related expenses may look different than they did just one year ago. This year’s school supplies might include a computer, internet access, a quiet workspace, required software and applications for study, earphones, printer, and more. These supplies come with additional expenses that may be well beyond what was contemplated in your present child support calculation. Not only that, but both parents will need to ensure that regardless of where the child learns, the child has full access to everything they need.
Planning for these expenses now and communicating with your co-parent in advance will help to ensure that your child has the tools they need to be successful this school year.
There’s an App for That
There are multiple apps, websites, and shared calendars that can be customized to fit your family’s needs. Check out our blog on some of the best co-parenting and scheduling apps out there that could help make going back to school and custody sharing easier for you and your co-parent.
Everyone wants to get an “A+” when it comes to being prepared for the school year. By working with your co-parent and your attorney, you can help lay the foundation for success for your children. Make sure you are reviewing your parenting agreements and communicating with your child, your co-parent, and your child’s school to make sure you and your child have an amazing school year no matter where the learning takes place!