Everyone is headed back to school. This can be a fun but sometimes stressful event for families. This is a perfect time for a couple to practice being partners and working together to help their kids get off to a good start for the new school year.
If responsibilities of school have previously fallen on one spouse or another I purpose trying something new this year. Carrying the weight of all of the responsibilities of having a child in school may cause some disconnect in the family or frustration among one or both partners. Below are four tips to get both parents involved this school year.
- Preparing for the start of school: Talk with each other and with your child. Topics of discussion may include: How did last school year go? From the bus, to teachers, lunch, and grades, were there any concerns or difficulties last year? How were they handled? Were you both happy with the school and each other’s participation in problem solving? Avoid blaming each other for past sore spots. This is a new year and a chance to start fresh. Are there any new concerns for this school year? Is this the first year in school or a transition year into Junior High or High School? Have a conversation or conversations with each other and then also include your child or children. These conversations can help everyone start on the right foot and relieve some anxiety
- Communication with the school: Make every effort for both parents to meet new teachers. Take off work if needed. This is the most important event happening in your child’s life currently. Meeting the teacher lets your child and each other know you are invested in your child’s education and lives. Provide both parents’ emails for the teacher and request that the teacher(s) send correspondence to both parents. Have school correspondence come to both parents’ emails and phone numbers. Both parents should also be able to log in to check grades. Each parent receiving communication from the school and teachers prevents one parent from being the go between and ultimately having all of the knowledge and having to disseminate it to the other parent.
- After school starts: Again make time for adult only conversations as a couple and then time as a family to talk. Now that you have met the teacher, have an idea of what your child will be learning this year and what his or her day will look like, how do you feel about it? What are you each excited about? What are you each concerned about? How will you handle these concerns? Be supportive of each other’s ideas and empathetic of each other’s concerns.
- Keep the momentum going: Now that the school year is off to a good start, stay involved so the school year will continue to go well. How will you each be involved on a day to day basis? This may look like one parent helping with homework etc. daily and over dinner the other parent can ask the child about their day. What homework they had? What projects or tests they have coming up? If they made any friends or foes? Even if both parents cannot be physically involved by helping with homework both can be aware and in tune with the day to day happenings at school. Figure out what works best for each of you and your family.
The strategies above are ways to be proactive with communication and knowledge of your child’s education. By putting these strategies into practice in a way that best meets your family’s needs you will feel like partners in handling any stressors that come up throughout the school year and throughout their school career.
Michelle Puster M.Ed. | Licensed Professional Counselor
Helping disconnected couples grow closer
Couples & Marriage Counseling Katy, TX