As a stepmom, I have spent a lot of time with my stepson helping him with his homework. Since he was living in our home, keeping track of his school work and his attendance often seemed to fall to me. Being the reluctant student that he was, it was no simple matter getting him to graduation. A step-parent can play a very important role in a child’s education; there are a few key things you can do to give your stepchild that extra boost for success in school.
Attend Parent-Teacher Interviews
If possible, try to meet with the teacher with your spouse and the child. If you have a good relationship with the other parent and it is not overly awkward, try to arrange a joint meeting. Attending parent-teacher interviews is important for a variety of reasons.
• It lets the child know that you care about them and that you are
interested in what she is doing.
• The child understands that everyone is on the same page, so you receive more respect and less manipulation when it comes to dealing with school work.
• You get to ask questions, raise concerns and receive direct answers, instead of relying on your spouse or the co-parent to interpret the situation for you.
• It provides you with the opportunity to publically praise your stepchild. This is invaluable and a wonderful way to acknowledge the child in a positive and meaningful manner.
Communicate with Teachers
This seems like a logical move but it can be tricky. You must make sure that you are officially acknowledged as a guardian, meaning that the custodial parent has given the school authorization to share information with you about the child.
It is equally important that your stepson or stepdaughter know that you communicate often with their teachers by telephone and e-mail. This way the child understands that you are keeping track of him; be sure that the child knows that you are most interested in keeping track of his successes and helping him with areas of concern.
Establish Your Role
If you are a new stepparent it is important that you and your spouse come to an agreement on your level of involvement in your stepchild’s education. Your role will be much larger if the stepchild resides in your home full-time, but if you are in a part-time joint custody situation be really clear on what the boundaries are.
The child also needs to understand that you have authority in this area. There will be more cooperation at homework time if rules and expectations are set out ahead of time. Just remember, you are the bonus parent. Avoid criticism; a child will benefit from having another adult in her life who is praising and nurturing. Being involved in your stepchild’s education will increase opportunities for his or her success and strengthen your bond.
Be secure in the knowledge that when your stepchild walks across the stage and receives a diploma, you played a vital role in that success. She will also know it and appreciate it.