PARENT-TEACHER COMMUNICATION FOR DIVORCED PARENTS
How do divorced parents handle all of these?
At this time of year schools are gearing up for parent teacher conferences as well as curriculum nights, high school/college informational sessions and a multitude of other activities that involve parents. How do divorced parents handle all of these?
All parents want to be involved in their kids’ education. If you and your child’s other parent are not together, there may be some challenges. First, the school can only send info out to parents whose contact info they have. Check with the school and make sure they have your address, phone number and email. I see many situations where one parent fills out all of the paperwork and decides to leave the other parent’s contact info off of the forms, and therefore the other parent never receives any information from the school. Don’t depend on your kids to give all of your info to the school either, they will likely only remember to include the parent whose address they use. If you have not met your kids’ teachers you may want to email them as well and introduce yourself, and that way if a teacher has an issue or a question, they will make sure that both parents are contacted.
If you have joint legal custody, then you and your co-parent are supposed to make decisions together about your child’s education. This means that if the school contacts you and suggests that your child have an IEP, you cannot just say yes or no without the other parent also having input. The same goes for your child seeing a school counselor, registering for high school classes or dropping a class.
If you get an invite to a curriculum night or a college planning session, you should make all efforts to attend, even if the other parent is going. Your child’s other parent might not share the info with you. If you cannot attend, contact the school and see if they will email you any handouts or Power Point slides so you will know what went on.
What about parent teacher conferences? Teachers will do separate parent teacher conferences for divorced parents if requested. My feeling about this, however, is that teachers are overworked enough. As a parent, I have been to many conferences and I have seen how many parents each teacher has to meet with in a small amount of time. So I have always told my clients to try to suck it up on this occasion and figure out how to sit in a room together for 15 minutes. Avoid speaking to each other if that is going to start an argument and make sure each of you just speaks with the teacher.
In all situations, if you are at your child’s school and your co-parent is there as well, under no circumstances should you start any kind of an argument or scene. This is not the time to engage in a discussion about child support, custody time or any other issues. Even if your child is not there, news of it will get back to him or her and will cause considerable embarrassment. Remember this is for your child’s benefit, not yours.