Being Sensitive to Students From Split Households
Often, students today come from split homes; meaning their parents are either divorced, or separated, and they split their time between two different households. Aside from the emotional and mental stress this can cause, it can also create some challenges for you as the teacher. You really need to be aware of, and sensitive to, the fact that this student’s home life may result in them having different needs. This could mean sending multiple copies of information home or having a specific communication structure. The following are some things to keep in mind to handle the situation successfully.
- Send any information such as handouts, PTA letters, calendars, etc. to each home.
- Send copies of textbooks home so that the child has one at each home.
- Ask parents if they have a preference for where information, permission slips, notes, etc. go. Should all permission slips go to Dad’s? All information to Mom’s?
- When making things to take home, be sensitive to the idea that the student may want to make one for each house. Same goes for holiday items such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The student may want/need to make more than one for both a mom, and stepmom.
- Try to get the custody schedule so you’re aware of which parent the child is with in case you need to know.
- Ask parents to agree on a phone tree which tells you the order in which to try calling them if you need to.
- Ask parents to give you a list of people who are responsible for the child, or can be talked to on their behalf. (Babysitters, stepmoms/dads, girlfriends/boyfriends, grandparents, etc.)
- Ask each parent if they would rather conference together, or separately.
- Make sure to consult, and include, both parents when making education decisions about the student.
If you’re having difficulty getting both parents to agree on decisions or preferences for the student, ask your principal/counselor/social worker for help.
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About Hannah T
I am a 2010 graduate with a degree and certification in Elementary Ed., and I have worked with students from birth to junior high. I believe that one of the most important qualities to surviving a teaching career is a sense of humor. I also strongly feel that students are most successful when they are active and hands-on learners. My Mom was a Special Ed. teacher for almost 30 years, and my Dad was an English major, so I enjoy bouncing blog ideas off the two of them. This usually results in an exchange of great stories with my Mom, and a correction in my writing from my Dad. When they're not available, the job falls to my rescue dog, Coozie.