If this upcoming school year will be your child’s first since your separation or divorce, you’re likely concerned about how this change to your family dynamic will affect their academic performance. The same may be true if this is your child’s first school year since any major modifications to a previous custodial schedule.
While it is normal to be concerned, your child’s academic success is (at least in part) in your hands. Co-parents who commit to placing their child’s well-being (including their academic performance) front and center can keep their child on track.
That doesn’t mean they have to be a straight-A student if they never have been in the past, and even if they have been in the best, remember also that each academic year brings with it increased challenges of its own. However, if you and your co-parent can agree to help your child do the best they can and prevent any conflicts and disagreements from getting in the way, that’s a big step in the right direction.
Agreeing on rules and expectations across homes
The two of you likely have never had precisely the same parenting style. That can become more obvious as you begin to parent your child in two different homes. However, reaching some agreements on rules and expectations across both homes and codifying them in your parenting plan can help. Here are just a few things you might want to agree to:
- Homework must be done before any other screen time or playtime
- What grades you expect and what corrective or disciplinary actions you’ll take, or tutoring you will obtain, if your child doesn’t meet those expectations
- Whichever parent has their child will help with homework and projects as needed
- You’ll communicate with each other on your child’s challenges and accomplishments (via whatever means works best for you)
- You’ll both attend school events and parent-teacher conferences
- You will keep your child out of the middle of any school-related disagreements you and your co-parent may have
It’s important to make sure the school and individuals like teachers, coaches, advisors and counselors have both sets of contact information and send the same notices and communications to each of you. However, it’s also important to make sure to fill your co-parent in on things they may not have – like a last-minute schedule change. Try to keep the school out of the “middle” as much as possible, too.
Maybe your child will continue to excel academically, but no longer want to engage in extracurricular activities. They may begin to struggle socially or have behavioral issues at school. These should also be handled as a team if the two of you are co-parenting your child. Having legal guidance as you work out how you’ll do this will help things go more smoothly and – most importantly – benefit your child.