During and after divorce, being in contact with and involved in your kids school is even more important.
- A change in school performance can indicate that your child is having problems dealing with their emotions
- To keep connected to this important part of your child's life
- To allow you to positively influence your child
Divorce can be very unsettling and they may not talk about it but it can be expressed in non verbal ways such as worse performance in school or mood changes. Keep in contact with your kids teacher and let them know what's going on so they can watch for signs. Non-custodial parents in particular may find it difficult to go by the school seeing people connected to their old married life. Do not give in to those feelings of wanting to minimize your time around the school. Your child needs you and it is worth it.
In my experience, schools are not divorce friendly. They do not make much effort to involve or welcome the non-custodial parent. Getting school notices seems to be a recurrent problem. Often they will not have counted on 2 notices going to one child and you can't rely on your child to remember every notice and keep you informed.
How can you deal with this?
- An envelope in the child's school bag where notices are kept can help. If the child is going to both homes regularly then both parents get to see the notices or can make copies. Agree to a regular time to clear out notices from the envelope.
- Keeping the envelope in the school office so the secretary will put a copy of the notices in there for you can work as well. It requires a cooperative secretary and you need to drop by the school regularly to pick up the notices. This has the positive benefit of being seen around the school, making regular contact and allowing you to see a teacher while you are picking up the notices. Of course schools close before work hours are over and so you would need a flexible work situation to do this.
- Having the school mail the notices to your address can sometimes work also but you may need to go to the principal to explain the situation before you can get agreement to this.
- More recently some schools are scanning the notices and putting them on the school website. This is the best solution for those with computers. You can check the notices anytime without any hassle. Don't use this as an excuse though not to make contact with the school.
Stay connected to the school
Join the PTO or booster clubs
This is a great way to make contact with other parents, support your kids school and have some influence on what happens there. There is often a Board of Ed member on these committees so you get to meet with someone influential in your child's education. For a non-custodial parent, this again connects you to what's happening in your child's life.
There are plant sales, bake sales, class parents (often termed class mother) and other activities. These often require that you be available during school time however. Other fund raising events such as car washes are held on weekends. Helping out or organizing these events can also help link you to your child's life.
Go present in your child's classroom
- Have a hobby that you enjoy?
- Been to a foreign country lately?
- Have an interesting job?
- Share it with the kids. Contact the teacher to arrange it. They will help you gear it to the kids level and they especially love it if it also links in with part of their curriculum.
Often kids have projects to do for school. This is another opportunity to connect. Praise and encouragement honestly given are the best gift you can give your child. They often may have difficulty starting since the project may just seem too big for them. Guiding them on where they might find information or resources will help them over that hurdle. Do not do the project for them though. Pointing them in the right direction and encouraging them are the best tools.
Recitals and performances
Again another chance to connect.
- Be there
- Take photos or video
- Meet and praise them afterwards
- Bring a gift or go out to celebrate afterwards
For a non-custodial parent, you may not be able to do all these things at the time depending on your arrangement. Do so at the next available opportunity.