You have recently separated but what do you tell your children’s school? Telling your children’s school about separation and divorce can be difficult and embarrassing but it is much better that it comes from you. The children shouldn’t have to explain to their school. The way in which parents handle communication has a huge impact on the children and how they deal with your divorce or separation. Speaking to their school is one of the most important.
When one of my children broke down at school, their teacher made a room available. She found a child who had been in a similar position and gave them space to talk. If the school hadn’t been aware, I don’t believe this would have happened. The support given to both my children by their school was tremendous and I believe helped them deal with the situation much more quickly.
How to go about it and what to say
The easiest way to tell your children’s school is by letter or email. They do not need, and should not be given, the graphic details as to what happened and who left who. This is not an opportunity to tell your side of the story. It is also best to tell your children who you have informed and what you have said so that they are not surprised if they are asked about it at school.
If you are living apart, you need to let the school know as soon as possible and give them contact details for both of you. They should be given the emergency contact details and in what order they should be contacted. They should also be informed of agreed contact days, i.e. when the children stay with each of you. It is best to ask for school communications to be sent to both of you. This does not also work immediately but gentle reminders to school when things don’t get through are worthwhile. You should both be made aware of the dates of parents’ evenings, awards evenings, shows, etc.
When it comes to parents’ evening, the school are unlikely to be able to see separated and divorced parents separately; they just don’t have the time available. If possible, I would suggest going together. This shows your children that you are parenting together. They will know that you have both heard what is being said by the school. You will be showing a united front. If you cannot attend together, it is a good idea to update the parent who wasn’t there with a summary of what was said, positives and areas for improvement.
Moving schools, whether for a house move or from primary to secondary is another challenging time for children. They may need additional help and support.
If your children change school, you will need to tell the children’s new school. This is the case whether they move schools because of the separation or just moving to high school. Primary schools do not automatically send the information on.
It is not unusual for children whose parents are separating or divorcing to exhibit challenging behaviour at school as well as at home. It is important that both parents work together to address this and have a shared response. Children can often play parents off against one another and so it is essential to work together, and with the school, to get to the root of any problems.
When you are working on your parenting plan, it is a good idea not to have variable arrangements. Children benefit from stability where possible. They need to know that they will have time with both parents and when that time will be.
Like most things, communication is key; with the school, one another and with the children.
If you found this article useful, you might also like https://smartdivorce.co.uk/getting-divorcedwhat-about-the-children/.
Tamsin Caine is a Chartered Financial Planner at Smart Divorce. She specialises in working with separating or divorcing clients to help them to understand how to divide their finances to move forward with their lives. If you would like to speak to Tamsin or find out more about how she can help, email her at Tamsin@smartdivorce.co.ukany time or telephone 07975 922766 during office hours.