Parenting Plan for Early Schoolers
The early school years mark an important stage in a child’s life. For many parents, especially coParents, it’s important to structure these years for their child. With blended families, it is all the more important to structure children’s early school years with a parenting plan.
What is an early schooler?
First, let’s define what the early school years are. An early schooler is a child entering into Kindergarten and venturing though into the fifth grade. This period begins a long, more settled period of childhood. The child begins to have a variety of experiences away from the home and the family. Children become involved in their school activities and find other sports and interests that they share with a number of friends and other adults.
Why is creating a parenting plan a good idea?
While they are interested in their teachers and peers, early schoolers need to please their parents most of all. They can begin to adapt to different styles of parenting and see the differences in different places and situations. They need to check in and touch base, which a parenting plan can provide. They want the security of stable patterns in caretaking and regular contact with each coParent, including individual time with each. They want help in grooming, dressing, eating, and remembering things, but the more they learn and succeed at such tasks themselves, the better they feel. Doing well at school and well at home makes the child feel good.
Even though they are young, early school children can understand the concept of time and routine. They can look forward to things that will happen and can remember things that were done before. They are better able to express things that are important to them and can find ways to get others involved. They are beginning to understand the difference between fantasy and reality. They know what is “fair.” They begin to have opinions about what they like and what they don’t like. They learn to solve simple problems. If the child’s needs are not being met, there may be physical problems (tummy aches, headaches), sleep problems, expressions of anger, and a return to more childish behaviors (bed wetting, baby talk).
Designing a parenting plan
When designing a parenting plan for the early school child, remember:
- The child’s schedule of school and after-school activities must be considered so that the child can succeed in these areas.
- A consistent schedule and routine are necessary so that the child can focus on the job of school, friends, and team activities.
- coParents should select activities that match the child’s interests and work together to balance these activities with the demands of school.
- Birthday parties and other peer activities will be important and may require some additional transportation and flexibility of coParenting time.
- Provide support for the child’s school program by setting a study routine and communicating with the teacher.
- Fewer midweek transitions make it easier for finishing school projects but both parents need to participate fully. Research shows that children with fathers involved in their schooling perform better in school.