How Can Teachers Help Guide Students Through Divorce

Added 1st March 2021

If you notice that one of your students is finding it difficult to cope with their parent’s divorce, then it’s important you’re there to support them through it. Find out how, here…

When a couple is going through a divorce, the impact on any children in the relationship can be profound. Depending on their age, the process can prove to be especially traumatic, as they find that their life is being turned upside down.

As has been well documented, a child’s situation at home can have a direct impact on their performance in school. This means that, if they are finding a divorce difficult to cope with, their behaviour and general development can quickly regress.

As a teacher, you’ll always have an important role to play in your student’s lives, but even more so if they are going through a divorce. Whether or not the parents are dealing in constructive negotiation for an amicable divorce, or the separation is contested, this guide will help you to support any student who is subject to the process.

How Can a Divorce Effect Students?

The nature of a divorce and the time it takes to unfold can have a number of different effects on your students, so it’s important to be aware of what could happen. Here are just some of the potential effects:

Behavioural Problems

If your student is experiencing a divorce at home, they are much more likely to exhibit behavioural issues when they are at school. Divorce can lead to feelings of stress and frustration in children, which may manifest in behavioural changes.

Poor Academic Performance

When a student’s parents are going through a divorce, their academic performance could suffer as a result. Divorce can often lead to lower self-confidence and a loss of concentration, which will have a direct impact on the way a student performs in a classroom environment.

Mental Health Issues

Divorce can increase the risk of mental health problems in children and adolescents, which can either be short-term or long-term. For some students, a divorce can act as a trigger which increases the risk of depression and anxiety.

5 Tips to Help a Student Through a Divorce

The impact a divorce can have on a student shouldn’t be underestimated, which is why your role as a teacher is important to help them through such a difficult time. Here are five tips you can keep in mind when it comes to helping a student through a divorce.

1.)  Speak to the Parents

If you’re aware that a student’s parents are going through a divorce, then it’s important to keep in contact with them. This way, you can share how they are performing in school and get a better insight into what their home life currently looks like.

From here, you’ll be able to better gauge where a child is on an emotional level and tailor your teaching style to suit their personal preferences. If you share key information with the parents, they’ll also be able to do the same thing while at home.

2.)  Take a Moment to Speak with Them One-to-One

Whenever you get the chance to do so, you should attempt to speak to your student on a one-to-one basis. If a student doesn’t have anyone to speak to, they’re likely to bottle their emotions up, which could result in poor general performance in school.

From here, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of how they’re feeling and whether they need any specific support while they’re at school.

You don’t need to schedule in formal 30-minute meetings with your student. All it may take is 10 minutes at the start of every week to see how they are getting on.

3.)  Avoid Being Overbearing

Children and teenagers will all respond differently to an event such as divorce. Some may be very emotionally fragile and will need constant support, others may simply want some space to be able to process the divorce by themselves.

If you think that one of your students is performing well in school and their behaviour isn’t a cause for concern, then you should try to avoid being overbearing. Often, that can have the opposite effect to what you intend. Offer the student a chance to talk to you, but don’t push it too far if it’s not necessary.

4.)  Set Boundaries

You’ll naturally tend to provide some students with a certain amount of leeway when it comes to their behaviour, especially if you know that they are dealing with difficult home circumstances.

That being said, you should make sure that boundaries are set when it comes it unreasonable behaviour. It won’t be beneficial for you or the student in question if they are being allowed to behave poorly without any repercussions. So, you should not provide them with any ‘special treatment’ so to speak.

5.)  Give Them Access to Useful Resources

Sometimes, it can be difficult to provide all the right answers to questions concerning divorce. This is especially true if you don’t have any first-hand experience of the effects it might have on a student.

There are countless books out there for all ages which will provide your student with the information they need and aren’t necessarily receiving. So, it’s a good idea to point them in the right direction, providing a list of resources which you think would be of use for their particular situation.

Are You Looking to Help a Student Through a Divorce?

Helping a student through a divorce is never going to an easy task. It may require some trial and error to ensure that you are providing the right kind of support to ensure that they are able to thrive in a school environment.


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