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Gary Direnfeld

Educators and Children of Divorce

Education workers may be the most significant eyes on kids, outside of their parents. Their “eyes on kids” begins when the kids either get on the school bus or enter the school. For elementary school children, the education workers may have more waking hours with children than their parents. Their time and influence are significant.

As education workers, you may see and wonder about changes in concentration, mood or behavior affecting a student. Hopefully the student’s parents have shared with you information about matters at home. It may be helpful to contact the parents when changes are noticed and no information has been shared. You can perhaps explore what may be giving rise to changes observed.

Just as parents worry about the changes that will impact their life, the result of separation or divorce, so too do children.

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Kids worry about how their parents are getting along. They can be concerned about the degree of conflict, how the situation affects themselves and what their role may be in their home life and parental discord. Taken together, these kids have much on their minds too.

Education and Communication

It is not the role of the education worker to act as therapist to the child. Supportive understanding and communication with the parents can go a long way to facilitating the student’s adjustment.

Not all parental separation are amicable. A caution to education workers about supporting either parent. Especially in terms of disputes over the care of the child between the parents. Information provided should relate to observable behavior and academic performance. The objective is to support the student, not the parent.

If a parent requests that the education worker only communicate with one or other parent, excluding the other, it is important for education workers to know that in law. Both parents have a right to information regarding their child; regardless if one parent has custody or responsibility for decision making. The only time information may be withheld from a parent is if there is a court order clearing restricting a parent from communication with the school.

So, support the child, appreciate what may give rise to changes in the child and communicate information as it pertains to direct observations and academic performance.

Need more information about separation/divorce, view the knowledge base at: https://shulman.ca/knowledge-base/

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 350 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.

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