by Barbara Badolato, CSW
In August, along with the dog days of summer come thoughts about the start of a new school year.
Besides feelings of excitement, many children experience some anxiousness about new teachers, new classes, and, as is sometimes the case of families going through a divorce, a new school.
For couples that have begun the process of divorce but have not yet informed the children, we encourage you to take into account the start of school when deciding when to break the news. Although we always suggest that a couple inform their children no more than 2-3 weeks prior to the parents physically separating, it is better for the children that this announcement not be made just prior to school starting.
If a child will be attending a new school as a result of a divorce, he will need ample time to get used to the idea. Take advantage of opportunities to familiarize your child with the school prior to the first day. Enlist the help of school administrators, guidance counselors and social workers to ease the transition. Plan a tour of the school this month while teachers are setting up the classrooms. Inquire about whether members of the school PTA would be willing to talk with you and your child about school activities and how best to become involved.
Finally, encourage your children to express their fears and concerns about the start of a new school year. Letting them participate in buying school supplies, a new backpack and even a new outfit for the first day will give them a sense of control and help them transition from a relaxed summer pace to a more structured schedule.
With a little advance preparation, you and your child will both look forward to the start of school.
Barbara Badolato is a certified social worker and a partner at Divorce Mediation Professionals. She has twenty-five years of experience working with couples in divorce mediation, and she specializes in the emotional aspects and financial concerns of couples going through separation and divorce. She is active in the training and continuing education of other mediators in the field and has made numerous presentations at programs and conferences sponsored by The New York State Council on Divorce Mediation, The Academy of Family Mediators and the Family and Divorce Mediation Council of Greater New York. Barbara has been affiliated with Stony Brook University School of Social Work as a field instructor, and is also in private practice working with individuals and doing couple’s therapy.