With September approaching and Ontario’s new school plan in place, the back-to-school season is among us once again. For most, this time of year brings up many mixed emotions. The anxiety and excitement felt for the coming school year is often paired with sadness about the ending summer. This is a stressful time for both children and parents, but especially for those who are preparing to go back to school after divorce.

Many families experienced divorce and separation over the second pandemic summer. Navigating those highly distressing life changes during an already difficult time can be very confusing for everyone involved. Children starting classes after going through these experiences may be predisposed to a more difficult school year. Planning for new teachers, subjects and friends may seem simple now that there are different schedules, routines, and possibly even a new school to consider.

In this article we share tips on how you can prepare yourself and your children for going back to school after divorce. Our suggestions can help you practice better parenting and set you up to feel less overwhelmed over the coming months.

Plan Ahead

Before your child’s first day of school, it is important to sit down with them and start a conversation to discuss how they feel about going back. Be open to any apprehension, fear and confusion they express. You may want to spend more time helping them feel confident and excited about school if need be.

This is also a good opportunity to bring up the topic of boundaries. Ask your child about what they are comfortable sharing with their schoolmates, because they may have not thought about it yet. Going over the situation in this way can help them prepare for questions they may receive from friends. Help them practice setting boundaries and let them know that they don’t need to answer questions they don’t want to.

You may also want to notify their teachers about the recent divorce especially if it is evidentially affecting your child. In some situations, it is helpful for educators to be aware of a student’s hardships outside of school. With the knowledge, they can be better prepared for any unexpected behaviour and show more understanding towards learning difficulties.

Make Sure They Have A Strong Support System

Through difficult life moments, it is our support systems that offer us guidance and a positive outlook. No matter our age, it is vital to have people who can show us love. For children going back to school after divorce, reassurance will make all the difference. Make sure you are aware that your child has a strong support system rather than assuming that they do. Help them make a list of people they trust and can go to for support (for example: grandparents, cousins, friends, teachers, social workers).

Remember that it is common to feel overwhelmed while trying to support your child during this time. If you are struggling to handle your own self care as well as care for others, consider looking into professional help, such as a therapist. When we take on many responsibilities

during difficult times, an unbiased point of view can help us recenter and find the strength to move forward.

If you’re tackling it all on your own, here are some ways you can maintain a strong support system for your child as they go back to school:

        1. Be encouraging and sympathetic towards their downfalls
        2. Allow them to see their friends more often while understanding that home can bring up confusing feelings after divorce
        3. Reassure and remind them that they always have a place to come to for support and love
        4. Check in every couple weeks to ask if they are being supported at school

Taking time to plan ahead and ask your child about their perspective will help them have a positive experience going back to school. Being reassuring towards them can strengthen their trust in you and better your relationship. You’ll want to provide them with comfortable spaces where they can feel grounded and supported during the difficulties of divorce. If possible, communicating with your ex about ways you can make their back-to-school experience easier can offer them more help.

At Hussain Law we focus on helping our clients navigate the emotional and financial challenges of separation and divorce. Our office remains fully operational, and we have implemented various new procedures that allow us to continue to advise clients seamlessly during this time. If you have a family law issue that you need assistance with, please contact Ayesha Hussain at 647-428-3919.

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