Back to School

It’s that time of year again when the beach trips, camps, and pool days are over and the back to school hustle begins. In addition to shopping for new clothes, shoes, and backpacks, parents are figuring out exactly how many boxes of tissues one class really needs and why aren’t there any three-prong, two-pocket, yellow plastic folders in the entire city? Then, beyond the stuff, comes the schedules. Parents have to learn their child’s new schedule during the school day, any new drop-off or pick-up procedures and after-school and weekend activities. All of this is enough to make anyone’s head swim. If you’re co-parenting you now have an extra job: coordinating all this between the two of you in as peaceful a way possible.

With all the modern (and free!) technology available these days coordinating schedules between co-parents doesn’t have to be a struggle. Most schools have several different ways for parents to stay updated with all the goings on including email, newsletters, websites, and Facebook pages. Some are even using Twitter. Then there are academic tracking programs such as Google Classroom, eChalk and district-based portals, which allow all parents to have access to their students’ assignments and grades. No more relying on one parent to be the transfer station for all this information to the other parent.

When scheduling extra-curricular activities, science projects, PTA meetings and parent-teacher conferences, an online calendar is your best bet. Parents create a unique log-in name and password different from any you use personally so both have access to the calendar but not each other’s personal accounts. Some popular options are Our Family Wizard, Cozi, Google Calendar and Bievo. These are all available as mobile apps, too. After events are loaded, both parents have access so there is equal opportunity for both parents to attend important events, which hopefully ends the classic argument of “You never told me!” – “I’m not responsible for your engagement in your child’s life!”

You may ask, “But who has to upload all the activities?” Good question. Assuming that both parents want these dates in their personal calendar also, it really shouldn’t matter. But i know it often does. One approach is to split up the responsibility with one parent loading dates for school and the other loading dates for extra-curricular activities. Another approach is for one parent to load all the dates that are available online and the other parent loads new events that come home on paper or out of the child’s mouth. The reality is that whatever the dynamic is between co-parents, technology isn’t going to radically change it unless the intention to do so is there. However, taking some time research the program that is the best fit for you and loading event dates could save a lot of headaches throughout the school year. Good luck!