How you can help the child of divorce succeed at school this year


Some children of divorce are excited to go back to school. Others are not. Here’s why. You’ll see both extremes among the kids in your ministry. No matter how you feel, there are things you can do to help them get off to a great start– and have a successful year.

Begin the process by talking to the child’s parent. Ask if you can offer some suggestions to their child. Explain these suggestions will help the single mom/dad as well as the child.

Encourage the child to

  • Choose one place in the house where the backpack, shoes and school things will be set when the child arrives home at the end of the day. (Remember the child may need to go to afterschool care or to a sitter after school and it may be late afternoon or evening before the child arrives home.)
  • Help mom (or dad) with getting dinner ready, clean up and other chores.
  • Be organized with schoolwork and do it before TV or computer activity if homework or school projects are not done after school at sitters or afterschool care.
  • Get things ready night before – perhaps through a series of questions about what happens in their home, walk them through what is going to be needed early every morning. (Keep in mind some of these kids in single parent homes will have to leave the home very early the next morning. They may eat breakfast at school or at a sitter’s.)
    1. Shoes, socks, pants, shirt, underwear and any other needed item such as school ID.
    2. Prepare lunch and put in the refrigerator.
    3. Prepare backpack by putting all papers that need to be signed in the backpack. (Encourage the child to use colored folders for various school forms and papers that need to be signed.)
    4. Put all completed homework in the backpack before going to bed.
  • If the child eats breakfast at home, put out the cereal or set the table with dishes the night before

As a children’s minister or children’s church worker, it might be helpful to prepare a checklist of things the child needs to do each morning before leaving the house.

First for the child who leaves with the single parent or while the single parent is still home.

☐ Get dressed

☐ Brush teeth

☐ Use deodorant (tweens and teens)

☐ Eat breakfast and clean up space

☐ Feed the pet

☐ Gather backpack and school projects

Second are additional issues for the child who is the last to leave the house

☐ Turn off all the lights

☐ Turn off any electronics such as TV, computer games, etc.

☐ Make sure pets have water and food

☐ If pets go outside, put pets out and make sure door to outside is locked

☐ Grab backpack

☐ Get school projects

☐ Get coat or sweater

☐ Grab lunch or make sure you have lunch money or parent has put money on the food account at school

☐ Make sure you have your cell phone

☐ Make sure you have the house key

☐ Set alarm (if needed)

☐ Close up house and lock the door

What other suggestions do you have to make the life easier for the child of divorce and their single parent?


This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on August 27th, 2014.

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