Divorce's Impact on Schoolwork
am getting ready for my first parent-teacher conference after my divorce last
spring. Now that I'm a single mom, I'm looking for ways to help my two
daughters through this difficult transition. I can tell they are being affected
by all that has gone on. They are in second and fifth grades. How do I talk
about this with my kids' teachers, and what should I be asking them to help me
an excellent idea to let your hair down with the teachers at conference. Let
them know that you are concerned about your daughters' emotional adjustment,
and want to know what you can do to preserve their peace of mind as well as
academic attainment. Teachers have a lot of experience in working with divorced
parents, and will be a good source of empathy and tips for your benefit, and
your children's as well.
teachers will be sensitive to the child's emotional status, expecting good days
and bad days. Teachers should let children of divorce know that they are
available to listen to their concerns without passing judgment or invading the
family's privacy. They can encourage the children to participate in a support
group, if one is offered through the school or through a social-service agency,
church or volunteer group in the community. Last, but not least, most schools
have a counselor or psychologist on staff who can render additional aid if needed.
are three things divorced parents can do that can really help with school
n Keep a peaceful home so that your
children can relax and focus on school.
n Encourage your "ex" to be involved
at school functions and both of you attend them, including the parent-teacher
conference; bury the hatchet for these short events.
n Make sure your child's attendance at
school is very good.
It's a fact: children from intact
homes tend to do better in school, according to social science reports.
Children whose parents remain married get higher grades and have higher rates
of attendance than their counterparts from divorced families. Their GPA's tend
to be at least 10% higher than their peers of equal ability who are in broken
homes. Their attendance records, compared to children from single-parent homes,
are better, suggesting that insisting on good school attendance after divorce is
a crucial and practical priority for single parents, according to Americans for
John Crouch, executive director, says
the scholarly consensus says divorce overall is bad for children. They don't
just "bounce back," and many struggle for many years or a lifetime. While there
are exceptions, staying within the marriage is usually the best course of
action for parents who are able to make the adjustments necessary to do that,
and put the priority on what's best for the children. But of course, that's not
always possible, and children of divorce can, and do, succeed very well in
school and in life, all the time. The difference is in effective parenting,
which takes time and effort, but can be done.
Note: research indicates that girls in
single-parent homes or stepfamilies seemed to struggle even more than boys.
This is apparently because of the lack of a strong relationship with their
birth father and the difficulty of establishing a solid new relationship with
the stepfather. You may consider counseling for your daughters to help guide
them toward attitudes and practices that will prevent problems on down the
good books are What Children Need to Know
When Parents Divorce by William Coleman, and Helping Children Survive Divorce by Dr. Archibald Hart. See also the
positive impact that a divorced father who is involved at his children's school
can have in this report from the National Center on Education Statistics, www.nces.ed.gov/pubs98/98117.pdf