The start of a new school year can be stressful for many parents. And this may be especially true when you’ve recently gone through a divorce or separation and have shared custody of your children. Use the following tips to help the transition into the school year as smooth as possible for everyone in your family.

Make a School Supply Shopping List

The cost of school supplies can add up fast, and, depending on your children’s school, you may need to purchase supplies more than once as new semesters or terms begin. If these costs aren’t covered by child support payments, make a list of everything your children need and split the cost with your ex by each of you agreeing to purchase certain items. Use this as an opportunity to spend time with your kids, get them excited about school, and maybe even work in a lesson about budgeting.

Make a Schedule

The school year also means a change in schedules. To ensure everyone is where he or she needs to be on time, create a master schedule that includes dates for school conferences, events, and projects. Keep the schedule in a place where everyone can see it, or create a calendar online using Outlook, Google, or other related software. Having a schedule in place helps provide structure and routine, which can help kids cope after a divorce or separation.

Prepare Your Children and Their School

If your separation or divorce occurred during the summer, your children may be anxious about returning to school and having to tell their friends and answer their questions. Help your kids by discussing ways to answer questions and remind them that they aren’t obligated to answer anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Divorce may also impact children’s behavior, so reach out to teachers and school counselors to explain the situation. With better understanding, a teacher may be able to recognize and constructively manage any negative behaviors while keeping you in the loop.

Keep an Open Line of Communication with Your Ex

Regardless of your relationship with your ex-spouse, it’s important that you both set your differences aside when it comes to your children. This means keeping each other up to date with your children’s school work, conferences, schedules, and events. Let each other know about your children’s successes, such as good grades or awards, as well as areas that may need improvement, such as a certain subject or behavioral issues. Use whatever method works easiest for both of you, such as email or text.

Talk to Your Children

As the school year progresses, ask your children how they’re feeling and if they have any questions or concerns. They may not feel comfortable bringing certain issues to your attention on their own. Remind your children you’re there to support them along the way. Remember, simply being present by helping with their homework, recognizing their hard work, and cheering them on goes a long way.