Back to School Tips for Non-Custodial Parents

August 18, 2014

As the school year approaches, there are questions many parents have about the new school year.  If you recently went to court and received a custody order, there are a few things that non-custodial parents should keep in mind.

1 – Ensure the school knows that you are the parent.  Sometimes when a custody order is entered, the custodial parent will take on the responsibility of enrolling the child in school and filling out the paperwork.  As the non-custodial parent, you should go to the school to confirm they have your current contact information and that you are listed as an emergency contact.  Sometimes, the school may need to see a copy of your divorce decree or custody order.

2 – Introduce yourself to the teachers.  Teachers usually welcome parent involvement, and will be glad to communicate with you.  Make sure not to criticize your ex though – no one wants to be put in the middle of a divorce or custody dispute.   Some schools or teachers have blogs or newsletters they send to the parents.  Get on the email list to keep up with what your child is doing on a regular basis.

3 – Follow grade reports online and attend parent teacher conferences.  Many grade reports are online for parents to view with a password.  Take advantage and check it regularly.  Email the teachers about concerns and voice any questions at the parent teacher conference.  If you cannot attend the parent teacher conference because you do not get along with your ex, ask the teacher to send you a copy of the comments via email.

4 – Keep up with homework or special projects.  Just because you are the non-custodial parent doesn’t mean you can’t be engaged in your child’s homework.  If you see your child only on the weekends, make sure you set aside some time to go over homework due the next week.  Special projects are assigned over several weeks, so you can assist your child in those as well.

5 – Volunteer.  Schools can always use help with something.  Whether it be helping with a certain event, updating the school website, or cleaning up the school grounds.  Teachers want parents to be involved and will do what they can to assist.

6 – Attend the events.  Unless it is prohibited by the court, make the effort to attend events that involve your child.  Even if you can’t have interaction with your child before or after, show up and watch.  Your child will notice.

7 – Try to get along with your ex. Email each other about events or share a Google Calendar.  Everyone may not be cooperative, but at least make the suggestion.  Improving communication between the parents usually improves the environment for the kids.

Being a parent (even a non-custodial one) is more than about just seeing your kids on your set days.  It’s about being involved, teaching, and encouraging your child.  If you get involved with your child’s education, they will respect it. There is no better way to teach than by example.


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