How does it feel?

How can* it feel for children from separated homes?

Nerve wracking telling friends you’re not here this weekend. Sad missing out on things, again. Guilty about trying to be loyal and trying to grow up, be independent, make choices all at once. Confused about where feelings of anger come from and terrified by the strength of them at the same time. Understanding of your parent’s flaws in a way only older sons and daughters are. Slightly more vulnerable, slightly more needy of approval and reassurance. Plagued by a sense of something missing that just doesn’t go away. Drawn, inevitably, into adult worlds even with the most discreet and harmonious ending of a relationship. Embarrassed because the homework you thought you had is actually in another house. Exhausted negotiating through home(s), routine(s) and rules(s). And sometimes isolated, when those around you really don’t get how it feels.

As a parent, I don’t want school to make allowances or make excuses. I want school to believe in my children as much as I do. I want firmness with compassion that takes into account that not everything is within their control, but seeks to help them work with what is in their control.

As a teacher, do I always know which children are from separated families? No. Do I need to know? No (although it is useful to know if children are in process of a separation so that they can be given support if needed). The point is, these could be my children, or anyone’s children, carrying around enough luggage for a month long trip. And it’s worth remembering.  Sometimes, some people need building up a little more than others. It doesn’t mean the rules are off or that the policies don’t work. It means we are responding, just as we do with marking when we adjust our teaching accordingly, to the people in our care.

Last year, my 5 year old didn’t really need to be told she was in the bottom 2 of her class every week with her spellings homework, leaving me trying to drag her to school each day as I tried to get to my own tutor group on time. A case of procedure gone awry, as @Xris32 Chris Curtis describes so well here. Thanks goodness reason won out in the end and this year she is beyond grades and beyond happiness at school.

*Disclaimer – Can not does, every child is different.