Helping Students Going Through Divorce
Almost 50% of all divorces involve children. The surprising fact here is that children can cope successfully and adjust with divorce within a reasonable period of time. But this adjustment doesn't come easy. It takes at least a year or two for children to finally settle down with the new family system. The Discovery Channel estimated that 40% of marriages ending in divorce have children involved. Divorces can be ugly, and the effects can be hard on all involved, especially children. Teachers should understand and sympathize with students who come from broken homes.
Children whose parents divorce during their formative years are at a great risk of behavioral issues such as aggression, depression, poor school performance and lower self-esteem.
Teachers can play an important role in helping students going through divorce
to make an encouraging correction in their attitudes. This is because childcare
centers, preschools and schools all are a part of the child's network, and
can help support healthy child development. Teachers can give students the opportunity to express their thoughts. Allow them to keep a daily journal that only you can read, and ensure them that a journal is a safe place to keep their feelings and thoughts. Journal writing can be very therapeutic, especially for students going through a divorce with their parents.
As a teacher, you should explain to your student that families change with time. Some families get new family members with every birth or adoption of a new child, and others change by moving to new places. The child should understand that change is normal and that it happens with everyone. Always lend your support and guidance. Let students know that they can come to you if they have any problems. Encourage them to be the best that they can be, and honor them in their achievements. But it's not always easy. Thus, many teacher resources are available online for your help in this regard.
You can take the following steps to ensure that kids from single parents and other broken families are well respected in the class:
Discussion opportunities: provide your students with opportunities to share their feelings. When discussing families, especially as a part of your Social Studies lesson plans, make sure to discuss that there are many types of families. Some families have one parent, some have grandparents, and some live with uncles and aunts. Make teaching diversity a priority in your class.
Words of encouragement: encourage the student to share their feelings. If they like to do so in private, be caring and accepting of their views and thoughts. If a student projects feelings like anger, rejection, sadness and worthlessness, encourage them to seek counseling.
Communicate with parents: try keeping both parents in the loop over your student's emotional and educational progress. If the non-custodial parent shows an interest in their child's development, cooperate with them. This will help in creating a supportive link to them for the child.
Maintain structure and routine: because of the divorce, the child has been on an emotional rollercoaster. This can be very tiring and stressful for adults, let alone the children. As a teacher, you need to provide the child some structure and stability by ensuring that schedules are followed and class discipline is maintained at all times.
Keep a boundary: divorce is not an excuse for irresponsible behavior. If given too much of a free hand, students can learn to be manipulative. Set limits for the extent to which you can take their bad behavior. Make sure that your student is well aware of those limits as well.
Education is one area where effects of divorce on children are very noticeable. Even a little change in a child's behavior can signify issues at home. This is why it becomes very important to keep parents fully involved in the child's education. There should always be open communication between the school and home.
Divorce is very difficult. Yet children are just children, and need all the help they can get for coping with this dilemma. Remember, the child is sort of losing both parents. One leaves the child and the other changes forever, so neither can be there for the child like they used to.
Children of Divorce Resources
- Adult Children of Divorce
- Center for Divorce Education
- The Divided Heart
- Faith Journeys Foundation
- Kids in the Middle