Back to School 2023: Our Top 5 Tips for Co-Parents

August 2nd


kids going back to school- classroom enviornment

Back-to-school 2023 is charging toward us; are you ready to hop along for the ride, or do you find yourself dragging behind? If your child’s summer vacation is coming to a close, now is the time for you and your parenting partner to prepare yourselves for the academic year ahead. To round out our summer posts on transitions, we bring you our round up of back to school tips for co-parents. Read on for our Top 5.


  • Back-to-school is an exciting yet sometimes stressful time for co-parents and their children. It’s common for people to experience mixed emotions and to worry about adjusting to a new school year.
  • There are often many things to do at the start of school, and sorting out the details can be difficult for co-parents who live in separate households.
  • Co-parents can help their children with this transition by adopting a positive attitude, prepping in advance, putting aside their differences to work together, proactively reaching out to teachers, and being present to monitor their children’s feelings and needs.

Back-to-school: A Time of Endings, Beginnings, and all the Feelings

The summer can mean different things for different people, but one thing is certain: it’ll come to an end, and school-age children will return to school. The theme of simultaneous endings and beginnings can evoke mixed emotions in kids and their parents. You, your partner, and your child could experience:

  • Excitement
  • Sadness: grieving the vacation, fun, unstructured/free time, etc.
  • Anxiety: about the unknown (how will the school year go?, who will the teachers be?, what peers will be in your child’s classes, etc.)
  • Confusion/disorientation: it takes time to get acclimated to new situations, people, routines, etc. It also takes time to re-adjust from our summertime routines back to our school-year schedules and rules.
Kids experimenting in class together

Co-parenting families may find this time of year daunting for additional reasons:

  • During summer break, parenting partners must often find ways to divide up their time with their child. Sometimes, long-distance parenting partners enjoy longer periods of custody time during the summer. Regardless of how the time is divided, both co-parents and their children typically endure transitions between households during this time period and the transition back to “normal” when it ends.
  • The start of a new school year often means meeting new teachers, school personnel, and students (and their parents). Co-parents may find themselves having to explain or share details about their family dynamic and relationship status frequently- which can be hard.
  • Co-parents face the challenge of supporting their child’s school experience… together. For parenting partners who have established a healthy working relationship, this may come relatively easily. For others who struggle to communicate or collaborate, this may be difficult and even triggering.
  • It’s also important to note that we all carry memories from our own school experiences that can bleed into the present; this can be true of any adult, regardless of your relationship status with your child’s other parent. We project our feelings about our past onto our children, which in turn impacts their emotional state. Therefore, the onus is often on us to manage our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors so that we can manifest a positive viewpoint for our school-bound children. Let’s dive in to all the ways we can create a supportive foundation for our child’s school success.

    KohParenting’s Top 5 Back-to-School Tips for Co-Parents:

    1. Put aside your own feelings and project positivity.
    Are you sad at the special summer time bonding coming to an end? Wistful about your child getting another year older? Nervous about dealing with new parents, school personnel, coaches, etc.? Dreading interactions with your ex? Worried about how your child is going to cope? As we’ve stated, all these reactions are completely normal! However, your child can often pick on and adopt your feelings, even if you don’t state them aloud. Try to think about the positives, and adopt a helpful mantra such as, “We can do this,” “A new year is a new opportunity for something great!,” etc. Seek support from your loved ones or professionals if you find you’re struggling to manage your mental health around the back-to-school transition.
    2. Prepare!
    So much goes into the start of the school year. There are many details for parents to work out, and this can be so much more complicated when you’re operating from different households. Start early, and make a thorough list of all the things you, your parenting partner, and your child need to do before the first day, in the first few months, and throughout the year.
    3. Be proactive in communicating with your child’s school.
    You don’t have to share your life story, but your child’s teacher and other school personnel may need some background information about your family situation. For example, you may need to share your contact preferences, custody agreement, pick-up/drop-off procedures, etc. This may be especially true if your separation is relatively new and/or if your child is still adjusting to it.
    4. Pair up with your parenting partner.
    Pair up with your parenting partner. Your collaboration with your co-parent doesn’t have to stop at the planning stage. Instead, consider attending school-related events (for example, back to school nights, open houses, meet and greets, social gatherings, etc.) together. You could also team up to volunteer for special projects or committees or take on roles together (like room parent, PTO, etc.). If the current dynamic of your relationship makes being face-to-face without fighting too difficult, then you’ll want to decide how you can divide up your time so that both of you can participate separately in these activities.
    5. Be present and process your child’s feelings, standing by to offer support.
    Again, the back-to-school “butterflies” can be pretty powerful. The season brings strong emotions, both positive and negative, that can be unsettling for kids. You’re certain to be busy taking care of every item on your to-do- list, but try your best to pause and stay tuned in to what’s happening for your child. Engage in conversations about what will be happening, and ask your child how he’s feeling about everything. It may take your child a little while to get acclimated, so adjust your expectations accordingly, knowing that he may be a little “off” in the weeks surrounding the transition.

    Additional Tips for Long-Distance Co-Parenting Situations:

    In some co-parenting families, one parent holds primary physical custody while the other lives farther away. In these cases, the responsibility still lies on both people to find ways to keep the long-distance co-parent involved in the back-to-school process. You can do this by:

    • Ensuring that both parents’ addresses/emails/etc are listed to receive school updates and other information.
    • Getting involved virtually whenever possible: setting up a livestream for school events, planning joint virtual conferences with the child’s teacher, etc.
    • Inviting close relatives of the other parent to be stand-ins: If other family members of the long-distance co-parent live nearby, perhaps they could get involved instead.

    KohParenting is Here For You, All School Year Long.

    KohParenting would like to send our well-wishes to all the students out there, young and old, and to the parents who support them along the way as they embark upon this new journey. With our list of tips and your love and patience, you’re sure to send your child off for a healthy start of the school year. And if your child struggles to part with you to go back to the classroom- or anywhere else for that matter- next week’s post is for you! We’ll be talking about how co-parents can deal with separation anxiety.

    Where you can stay informed on what's happening in the world of co-parenting and learn more about what we do.

    By Koh-Parenting Services LLC

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