Divorce and the First Day of School

The other night, I was exchanging parent fails with a dear friend. Her daughter, Nora, just started first grade. A lot happened over Nora’s summer. Her parents got a divorce. Her Mom took her to her first day of school. Nora’s first task as a first grader was to draw a picture of her divorced family. Nora was stumped.

Luckily, Nora was returning to the same school this year and her Mom is a rock star when it comes to parenting. Mom cheerfully walked Nora through drawing a house where her Dad lives and an apartment where her Mom lives. And, Nora drew herself in both places. But it brought home a great point. A basic foundation of Nora’s life had swiftly changed over the summer and just like that, on the first day, Nora had to face this change.

So, what you need to know about sharing news of a divorce in your family with your child’s teacher? Well, depending on your child’s age, maybe a whole lot. After all, teachers have a huge role in your children’s day-to-day well-being. They spend as much time -and sometimes more time- during the day with your kids than you do. It’s a good idea to update them about what’s going on with your family in the event of divorce, just as you might update them if someone else would be picking up your child from school on a particular day.

Teachers strive to be tuned in to changes in your child’s performance, attitude, self-esteem and other behavior patterns that affect their learning abilities and social skills. Their role is to guide your child’s education so that they are performing up to their potential and sharing the changes resulting from divorce can be helpful. Your child’s teacher will be the one who spots differences in your child’s behavior and will bring those changes to your attention. Your children’s teachers are your biggest allies in monitoring and making sure that your kids get what they need during the school day as you make your way through the divorce process. But, don’t fall into the trap of providing too much information.

DO share:

  • Changes in household structure – going from one house to two houses
  • What day your child is with you and what days he or she is with the other parent
  • Whether it’s okay if the other parent shows up at school and wants to take their child out of class
  • Who the teacher should contact if health or behavioral issues arise
  • Whether or not the child in counseling to deal with the stress of the divorce
  • If you want to have separate parent-teacher conferences

DON’T share:

  • Your feelings of betrayal.
  • Your financial situation, i.e. if you are paying or receiving alimony or child support.
  • Any other sordid details regarding your split.

Most importantly, don’t forget that teachers deal with students whose parents are divorcing, or have divorced, every day. It is nothing new and they won’t judge you for your decisions. They are there to help your child have a successful school year.

Keeping your child’s teachers informed about divorce and other family law issues sets everyone up to have a more successful school year.

If you’d like to come in and discuss your parenting schedule, concern about your child’s performance in school related to your divorce, or any other family law issue, we are here to help: (206) 547-1486. Contact us today.

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