The beginning of the school year can be a hectic time for any family, but the stressors are compounded for both parents and children who have recently been impacted by divorce. Below, you’ll find some information about how you can make the best out of the new school year, and create a healthy transition everyone involved.
From One Family to Two
One of the first steps in facilitating a hassle-free school routine is ensuring that your child’s school is an ally. You’ll need to interact with school personnel from time to time and have access to important resources, so it’s in your best interest to develop a cooperative relationship with teachers, faculty, and other school professionals.
Giving your child’s teachers a brief heads up about your recent divorce in advance can provide an advantage for them and your child. Teachers know that children whose parents have divorced may be experiencing changes in their household environment and routine. Because school is where children spend a large portion of their days, teachers can aid in creating as comfortable an environment as possible.
Of course, children cannot be expected to tune out their feelings totally, regardless of age. During or after a divorce, they can experience many different emotions, ranging from guilt to insecurity and shame. Working through these feelings can be challenging, and it can have an impact on children’s friendships and their ability to focus in school.
For most children, teachers are trustworthy authorities. As a parent, taking a proactive approach and informing teachers of your divorce in advance can contribute to making your child feel less isolated and drive self-esteem.
Connecting with Key Personnel
Below are some tips for opening the channels of communication with educators and faculty:
- Invite Teachers to Talk with Your Child
Acknowledging in advance that there might be times when your child feels distressed can be beneficial for teachers. Should you deem it appropriate, invite teachers to have an encouraging talk with your child. If you see fit, you can also suggest some messages in advance that might be helpful to pass on to your child when he or she might be having a tough day. Hearing that he or she is not at fault from one of your child’s favorite teachers can go a long way in boosting confidence. Furthermore, you may also want to have teachers remind your student that he or she isn’t the only one going through a tough time, and that better times lie ahead. Not only will this facilitate a more comfortable environment at school, but it will also help to reinforce the same messages you’ve been communicating at home. Having transparent conversations also encourages your child to see that divorce isn’t shameful or secretive; it can be addressed openly and shame-free.
- Contact Guidance
In addition to letting teachers know about the status of your divorce, it might also be a good idea to contact your child’s guidance counselors. These caring professionals have the knowledge, skills, and expertise needed to carefully work through children’s confusing emotions during difficult times. A compassionate guidance counselor can be an ally to you as a parent, and you can rely on him/her for support in helping your child navigate challenging circumstances throughout the school year.
- Don’t Wait Until Later
Generally, it’s advantageous to reach out to educators and faculty ahead of time. Chances are your child may go through the school year without relying on teachers or guidance counselors for any extra support. With that said, however, letting school staff know what’s going on in advance will allow them to be on the lookout for any sings of depression or behavioral changes that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
- Seek Out Support Groups
Many schools have support groups for children whose parents are going through a divorce. Interacting with other children whose parents are divorced can be beneficial in showing them that they’re not alone. Additionally, openly discussing thoughts and anxieties can put children at ease, especially in an environment with others who have a similar set of family dynamics. The more support your child has, the better equipped they will be for overcoming any challenges they may encounter throughout the school year.
Most importantly, keep in mind that the school can provide added support for your child, but parents should still be the primary support system throughout a divorce. Have a conversation prior to the beginning of the school year with your child and let him/her know about any ways in which the routine might be different this year. Let them know in advance who they can contact during the school day if they need to talk, and encourage them to get their feelings out. School can provide a comfort zone and a supportive ally for your family during the challenging post-divorce time, but be sure to use the available resources to your advantage and address the matter in advance.