Situation #1 Questions to consider: -Who should be invited to the parent-teacher interview at the end of the month? -Who should the report card be sent home to? -Is Billy taking the bus home to his mom’s, or is his dad picking him up tonight? -Are there certain custody battles you should be aware of; does Sally’s mom know that Sally’s father came to pick her up for lunch today?
Situation #2 More Questions to consider: -How might you address this situation to raise awareness about divorce and promote support rather than alienation? -How might you help this boy express his frustration differently? -How many children in your class are going through the same experience?
The blue section of the pie chart highlights that 25% of Canadian children come from divorced families.
This pie chart shows that once parents get divorced: 81% stay full time with their mom 19% stay full time with their dads
Divorce: Impacts on Children Negative relationship between parents may cause children to have behavioral problems Divorce is connected to lower academic achievement
Divorce: Impacts on Children Divorce causes children to deal with stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem Causes: Separation of parents, may cause a deterioration of the parent-child relationship, changes to family finances, changes in parenting practices, increased parental conflict, instability and uncertainty.
Common Red-Flags A child might be experiencing difficulties due to divorce in his or her family if he or she: -becomes more sensitive than usual -withdraws from class activities -isolates self -seeks negative attention by biting, hitting, or by having temper tantrums -is noticeably more absent from school -demonstrates a change in his or her desire to be at school (wants to stay home with mom or dad)
Tips on how to help Have patience with the child Keep the classroom routine as regular as possible Maintain consistency and discipline Help the child to feel competent Meet with the parents about behavioural or emotional concerns, either together or separately Appreciate that all families have strengths and weaknesses
Activities for the classroom Pre-K - Grade 3 Incorporate lessons on feelings, the expression of feelings, and actions toward others Incorporate activities that encourage the understanding and acceptance of all types of family structures Read story books about divorce and about all types of families
Activities for the classroom Grades 4-12 Arrange for a family court lawyer, judge, or social worker to visit the classroom Present the class with information about divorce, ask class to create a chart listing life changes that kids and teens face as a result of divorce Show the class videos, such as: PBS’ In The Mix- Divorce and Stepfamilies: Breaking Apart, Coming Together Discussion questions: What role should friends play when a teen is going through the divorce of his or her parents? What can friends say or do to make the situation easier? What might they do or say that could make the situation more difficult?
How a teacher can communicate with Parents: As we go through the list, please feel open to offer some suggestions that can be added to our general guidelines :
General Guidelines for Parent-Teacher Communication: - Never assume a student’s family makeup - Keep both parents’ contact information on file - Provide options to parents to set up separate child-parent-teacher interviews throughout the year - Encourage parents to design a living schedule on a weekly/monthly basis, to keep you informed of where the child will be going after school on each day. - Provide copies of newsletters, report cards and book order forms for both parents - Use an agenda and a daily initialling program, to ensure that parents are aware of upcoming events and required materials. (We will consider agendas in more detail) - Write emails to both parents and invite them to respond separately about their concerns. - -
The Wonders of the Agenda! Agendas are a practical way for parents to write messages and communicate to the teacher and to the other parent. In turn, the parent is made aware if certain information has not been passed along, by the presence of absence of their signature.
Tips from Gestwicki for Working with Parents Reassure parents: - Make sure parents have enough time to deal with the changes (remind parents that it is ok that adjustments take time). - Provide books about divorce for children and adults Keep requests light: - Be very conscious of what you may ask from parents
“About 250,000 families are recycled each year-created after the breakup of old families and the remarriage of one or both of the parents; one third to one half of these new families have children from either or both former marriages (Gestwicki, 560). It is very difficult for the step parent involved. They are often usure on how to act towards their step children. They are unsure of when to step in and when to stand back. Making them unsure of whether or not to take part of their step child’s school life or not. As a teacher, you may need to remind step parents that although you understand their inner conflict, a lot of positive things come out of children with stepfamilies. “They have multiple role models and an extended kin network; they may have happy parents, additional siblings, and a higher standard of living; and a new happy family may offer experience with conflict resolution and flexibility (Gestwicki, 561). Working with stepfamilies
Also, as a teacher, you can provide similar kinds of emotional support and information as you would offer adults and children going through a process of divorce. You can reassure the step parents that adjustments take time, sometimes years, and you will do your best to provide the children with a secure stable classroom environment to make their transition at home easier. The last important note on children coming from stepfamilies is being respectful of the child’s last name. For example, my name is Anastasia Nardelli, if my parents were to divorce and my mom would remarry Mr. Exe, I would not appreciate if my teachers would call me Anastasia Exe. Teachers need to be aware of the child’s home situations and what exactly is going on to make it as easy as possible for the children.
Case Study Dorothy Scott has recently noticed some disturbing behaviors in one of the children in her classroom. He (David) has been quite out of bounds, almost defiantly breaking group rules, and striking out aggressively at other children. She’s also bothered by the quiet sadness she sees in him at other times. She knows his parents’ divorce is now final and wonders what she might do to help the family during this time of change.
If you were Mrs. Scott, how would you… 1. Try to cheer up David in the classroom? 2. Try to help David find positive aspects of his new situation? 3. Help David express what he is feeling because of the changes he is going through? 4. Encourage acceptance of diverse families? 5. Communicate with the parents?