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Before & After Divorce
How Does Divorce Affect School Performance?

Niels Klement, Child of Divorce


When my parents separated back in 2010, I had a hard time keeping my grades at a good level. My emotions did not allow me to think about something else than my parents or the whole new bemusing situation. So how can a child focus on school even if its family situation is difficult and how can you support it during their way?

It’s simple. Wanting to push a young person through school in a heavy emotional situation, can end up really bad. So do not pressure your child additionally.
Furthermore, there are many differences between children in elementary school and children in more sophisticated schools, which I am going to cover closer in a minute.
But do not misunderstand me! It’s normal that you still want your child to be a great student.
So here are my tips and thoughts for keeping the grades at standard:


First, you need to understand that divorce has a different impact on every child. But in this case, there are many similar reasons why children mess up their grades during their parent’s divorce.
There is no one out there, who is able to focus 100% on something when a more important problem needs to be solved elsewhere.
Espiacally, not children. At an early age, children are not able to simply concentrate themselves on something so much that there is always a way a bad memory or feeling could sneak back in their thoughts.
When a child’s school performance is affected in a bad way during a divorce, it is mostly because of a huge lack of concentration, which is then again caused by bad memories and feelings accountable to the divorce.

It’s a vicious circle.

“An acute Divorce works like a permanent distraction for Children”
Dr. PhD. Riley Stevens


Elementary schoolers are the most affected group when it comes to consequences of divorce.

Because of their early age, they can not exactly understand what is going on when mommy and daddy are fighting. They are trying to figure out what they can do about it, which often leads them to blame themselves for the separation.

Thoughts like this can be like a poison for some children minds because blaming themselves creates a feeling of inferiority and helplessness.

State clear that it was a decision you (the parents) had to make and that no one is guilty.
Young children are suffering under massive pressure because of things like feeling this kind of inferiority. Being stressed out is a common symptom too for elementary schoolers.
Many children of divorce lose the thread in class when there’s so much going on in their mind. So try to take some work out of your child’s hands throughout their school day. I am not talking about doing their homework, for example, I am talking about implementing a structure in their day which they can follow easily.


Middle schoolers need to be treated in a similar way as the elementary schoolers.

Middle schoolers are not much older than the elementary schoolers, which makes them share the same lacks. For example, middle schoolers in the age of 11-15 are mostly struggling with the organization during their school day.

Having to handle the parent’s divorce or being emotionally affected besides doing all the stuff they need to do for school, can evoke exactly the type of performance downgrade you are trying to keep your children for.

You need to keep in mind, that this specific age can have a dramatic impact on children’s behavior because of puberty and hormones. Children at this age are more likely to exaggerate things, especially a so confusing situation like divorce.

You may have recognized that your middle-aged child is freaking out because of things they can not really comprehend. This behavior is also attributable to divorce. The most common way children mess up their grades in middle school is through laziness and obstinacy, which is often strengthened by other emotional exhausting things like divorce.

In this situation, wanting to push your child to good grades with punishment or consequences, often leads to the opposite result.

From experience, I can say, that the best way to go about this with a middle schooler, is to give MOST of the responsibility to your child. Someone who is ordering them around is the last thing children need in such a situation.
Of course, as a parent, you need to stay responsible for your child so just try to convey that you are always there for help but that it is their life and they need to make the best out of it by themselves.


Highschoolers performance is least affected by divorce. Adolescents from 14-18 mostly already had experience with separations and divorce from friends parents, which gives them a bit more understanding of the steps you had to take.

If high schoolers grades are suffering under divorce, it is most likely just because there is so much going on in their mind and they are stressed out.

So keep it cool!
Normally, teenagers at this age should be able to get back on track by themselves soon. When the disputes in the family are solved and everything starts to cool down again, your children’s grades should too.


 There is actually no way, you can prevent your child’s grades from falling when there is a hard time they need to overcome. There will always be a small reduction in school performance but there are a few simple things you can adjust,  to reduce the chance of getting an F.

1. Have a Plan

The school performance is often worse when your child is missing organization throughout their school day. Give your child a little routine they can stick to. Even things like printing out the timetable and pinning it to the fridge can make a difference.

2. Talk to the teachers

In an emotional phase like divorce, kids are changing their moods really quickly. Some teachers could be confused when your usually active child is a bit more introverted in the last few weeks. So just talk to the responsible person or teacher at your kid’s school about your situation and what is going to happen in the next time.
Most teachers already had experience with divorcing parents and what it is going to trigger in a child’s mind. So don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it.

3. Have a Plan

Make sure your child is regularly learning and is keeping up with the content taught in school. You could arrange a certain time every week, where you can check vocabulary or do some homework together. Long story short, be there for your child and always be able to help with problems or to answer questions.


If your child already messed up the grades because of the separation, do not panic, it’s not too late. I have been in this situation several times now and if you and your child are willing to get the performance back up, you are able to. Of course, when there is an extremely emotional and hard time for your kid, it’s ok to not be the prime version of himself.
Nevertheless, here are my proven tips to get good grades at school during divorce:

1. Do the Work!

If you want to achieve some results there is no way around this. Learning is the base of the whole school system and if your child isn’t a natural talent, he should consider investing a bit more time in school.

2. Have a Balance

Even though your child should invest time and work in school, there should be a healthy balance between work and leisure time throughout the week. Maybe consider things like joining a sports team or doing other activities so your child can get his mind off the bad things.

3. Organize the school stuff

Give your child a little help when it comes to organizing their school day. Again, do little things like pinning the timetable to the fridge or furnish some drawers with a little inscription so everything can be found easily.

4. Consider Help

A common problem when it comes to a school performance downgrade during a divorce is that many students can not really listen in class because they are too distracted by the things going on.
What really helped me in this situation were taking some extra lessons. I really sat down and took the time to ask and learn everything I’ve missed in class step-by-step.
Talk to your child about this and decide together if this is a move that could help you.

Thank you for reading this!

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The Cheatsheet to getting your child through divorce.



  1. How Divorce Affects A Child (Birth - 3 Years) - My Kids Divorce - […] two months ago, I wrote a whole post about how divorce affects school performance. Even though it is more dedicated…

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