Teachers are not certified counselors, but there are still plenty of ways they can help students deal with divorce at home.
While it’s difficult to keep a strong relationship between an educator and both parents who are separated – you may find yourself doing things twice or unsure of which parent to contact in certain situations if the family is not birdnesting – educators can be a huge asset to the child’s well-being if they keep their focus on supporting their students through this difficult time. Discover some ways to help students deal with divorce as an educator.
1. Provide Consistency
Though things at home may be changing – the child may even be moving or seeing one of their parents less often – your job is to keep school a stable environment. This means that even if the child is misbehaving, the consequences are the same as any other student. They will still be expected to turn in their assignments on time and take their studies seriously. Students may even look forward to going to school more than ever, where their friends and the expectations remain the same as before their parents separated.
2. Acknowledge Their Feelings
The best way to help students deal with divorce may be as simple as letting them know you care for them. Do not dwell on the subject, but let the student know that you are supporting them. Then show that you value them by providing positive feedback for their efforts in class and appropriate accommodations when things happen as a result of their new home situation, like missing materials because they are living part time with each parent.
3. Use Different Terms
Instead of saying you’re going to “call mom” or addressing letters “to the parents of…,” use more general terms such as “your family” or “parents or guardians of…” This will protect your student from embarrassment over their family situation and be more inclusive of all students’ family structures.
4. Seek Guidance from a Professional
School psychologists and counselors are wonderful resources who can help students deal with divorce thanks to their training. But a professional in this field can also help the teacher by providing insight as to how the child is handling the divorce and giving helpful tips to make their lives a little easier during this difficult time.
It’s never easy to help students deal with divorce, but trauma-informed teaching will keep you aware of a student’s changes in behavior and help you create a supportive educational environment. The most important thing is to keep both parents involved and let the child know they are valued as one of your students.