Coparenting after divorce or separation presents many difficulties. One difficulty that you may face is choosing a school to send your child to, especially if the family had to relocate after your separation. When you’re making the decision with your coparent about what school to send your child to, keep these tips in mind.
What is best for your child?
At the core of this decision is your child, not you or your coparent. All of your decisions should be made with your child’s best interests in mind, not out of convenience for you or your coparent. Education is extremely important as part of your child’s development. Make sure that this decision is made with full knowledge of its significant impact on your child.
Public or private?
The first thing you and your coparent should come to an agreement on is whether you want to enroll your child in a private school or a public school. There are pros and cons to both options, so you should take those into consideration. For example, if you want a smaller school, a private school may be the way to go. Less than 300 students are enrolled in 87% of private schools.
You should make this choice early in the decision-making process since it will impact the pool of schools that you have to choose from. If you’re choosing a public school, you should also take into consideration which parent is the residential parent. Public school options will most likely be based on where that parent lives.
Where is the school in relation to each coparent?
As mentioned above, you may have to choose a school based on the residential parent’s available options. On the other hand, you may choose a private school or purposefully going out of the district. You’ll have to consider the location of the school more. You and your coparent may take turns picking your child up from school. Try to find a location that will be close to both of you. If you’re part of the 19.6% of fathers that have custody, for example, but your coparent takes your child to a certain after school activity, you should take into account the distance from their home or workplace.
What curriculum and extra-curricular activities are offered?
If your child has certain interests in school or in extra-curricular activities, make sure that you’re taking that into account when you’re making your decision. If your child is more interested in STEM, choosing a school with strong STEM programming is important. On the other hand, your child may be artistically inclined. Choose a school with a good art or music program.
If your child is interested in a certain sport or other extra-curricular, make sure the school offers it. For example, if your child loves swimming, as 15% of kids 7 to 17 who go swimming six or more times a year do, you should look for a school with a swim team. If your child is interested in chess, make sure to look for a school with a chess club. Your child’s special interests may limit the options for schools or at least help you narrow down your list. Make sure you’re taking them into account.
Why is each coparent making their choice?
You may feel that you’re struggling to make a rational decision due to disagreements with your coparent. Take a step back from the decision-making process. Speak with a trusted friend or family member about your thought process. Think of why you have made the decision on the school you want to send your child to. If your “why” is nothing more than because your coparent doesn’t want that school, you need to really rethink your choice.
If you can give a rational list of reasons why you think a certain school is the best choice, you’ll be much better off. Make sure that you’re clearly relaying your reasoning to your coparent so that they can understand your thinking. They may have a different perspective than you. You should look at their different views not as an attack on you, but as an opportunity to think about things from a different perspective. The thing that both of you have in common is wanting to do what is best for your child. Keep that at the heart of your thought processes for the best possible school-choosing process.
What does your child think?
If your child is old enough to have a say in their school choice, make sure to consult with them. They are the one who will be most impacted by the choice you make. Therefore, their voice is an important part of the conversation. Make sure that you’re framing the decision as something they have a real say in and not as a choice between you and your coparent. They feel like making one choice or the other is going to be them choosing one parent over the other. This will likely cause them to struggle with the decision and feel as if there’s no “right” choice to make.
When you’re choosing a school for your child with a coparent, it can be difficult to make the best choice if you base your decision on emotion. Making an educated decision about your child’s educational future is very important. This is why you should thoroughly think through your choices and why you’re making them. If you find yourself saying things just to get a reaction out of your coparent, it’s probably not coming from the right place. Your child is the one who will deal with the consequences of your choices, not your coparent. Make sure to keep this in mind while making your decisions about their education.