School is an important part of your child’s day to day life. Staying in the loop with how and what they are doing scholastically, and socially is an important part of staying involve. Although in a perfect world the custodial parent would keep you on top of what’s happening in the child’s life, sometimes that doesn’t happen. A long distance parent needs to be proactive and advocate for themselves.
At the Beginning of the School Year
- Write a letter to the school clearing up any questions about custody and rights as well as requesting exactly what access and communication you would like.
- Get organized for the school year
- Just before the school year starts, call the school and get your child’s teacher’s name and the best way to contact them. If your child is in the early grades or there is any other reason to be concerned about how your child will do in the class, contact the teacher and introduce yourself and request a start-of-the-year conference to go over how the class works and what will be required of your child. During this conference, relay any concerns you have.
On the Regular
- exchange regular emails with the teacher and ask to be ccd on any emails to the other parent.
- Request to be invited to parent-teacher conferences via conference call.
- Request to receive report cards and progress reports from the school just as they are sent to the custodial parent.
- Once a grading period, if you haven’t heard enough about how your child is doing, call your child’s teachers and find out how your child is doing. Often it’s the custodial parent that gets the notes home and other more frequent reports of how the child is doing.
- Communicate (in writing) with the custodial parent about any concerns you have about your child’s schooling and offer your assistance, if there are things you can do to help.
Once you’ve got all of that under your belt, they key is to be persistent. It never fails that the school will ‘forget’ to keep you in the loop and the other parent will think it is unnecessary. It is necessary and you have to be your own advocate. Insist… politely, perhaps, but insist none the less.