Divorce and the Classroom: The Effects of Divorce or Separation on Children and Academics

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School has been in full-swing for two months now and the holidays are right around the corner. If you are a parent in the midst of a divorce or separation, or are a teacher in a classroom, there are certain circumstances that may require special attention with a child who is coping with the separation of his or her parents.

While divorce is a difficult time for all parties involved, the child should always remain the focus to ensure he or she has a routine and the love and support needed to help stay on the right track. If a student’s grades have started slipping or behavior has changed in the classroom, one of the first questions asked by teachers is: “is there an issue in the home?” As a parent, it is helpful to make your child’s teacher aware that you and your spouse have separated, and that your child is adjusting to the changes at home.   There is no need to go into great detail about the proceedings or the underlying reasons for the separation.  It is important for all of the adults in your child’s daily life to remain on the same page and work together as a team to help provide the proper support and guidance for your child so he or she may successfully manage the transition.

A few things for both parents and teachers to keep in mind/be on the lookout for when it comes to a child and his or her performance in the classroom:

  • Are homework assignments missing?
  • Have grades changed drastically from previous marking periods?
  • Are there any behavioral issues or emotional changes?
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns.
  • Does the child separate himself from others at home and/or at school?

Being mindful of these warning signs will help to address the situation in a timely manner before things get too out of hand. Even if a child is doing exceedingly well in school, it is important to check in with the child as it may be a sign that he is immersing himself into too much school work and not enough of anything else, including being with friends.

If you are a newly separated parent, it is crucial to provide your child with love, support and stability.  Helping your child understand and adjust to a schedule that he or she can follow allows for more consistency and reduces anxiety about what to expect. It is critical that you make every effort to communicate with your former spouse and co-parent your child to the best of your ability. Providing consistent rules and discipline for your child will also help with transitioning the child between parents and your respective homes.

Keeping your child the main focus through your separation or divorce is imperative. Communication with your child, your child’s teachers, and your former spouse is an important step in raising a healthy, well-adjusted child through transitions at home, and will likely prove to be beneficial to all parties involved.