I taught fourth grade for 35 years. I remember delighting in the times when the guidance counselor came into my room and gave a whole class lesson. Classroom teachers are overwhelmed with curriculum, tests, and the weighty responsibility of educating children today. Counselors are trained to be able to handle certain topics sensitively. Making a schedule to visit different grades at different times during the year is a win-win situation. And here’s one perfect lesson that is needed by most students…one dealing with divorce. If a child’s family isn’t divorced, then they have a friend whose parents are separated or divorced.
Begin by reading the book, Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?-(A Story of Divorce), Carol Gordon Ekster, Boulden Publishing, 2008. A good read aloud is a fabulous way to introduce any topic. It reinforces language skills and models good writing as well as dealing with the issue you want to bring to the students.
You can ask for responses to the story and see what the children reacted to. Ask questions about divorce and why it’s difficult for children. Those children with parents living together will gain empathy for those in a divorce situation. Those children from divorced parents will know they are not alone.
You can do a follow-up activity relating to goals. Teaching children goals is a way to help them achieve success. Have students write, illustrate, or discuss goals they want to set and how they can meet that goal.
You can also enlist the classroom teacher to help with an art project. Tell the children that in the story Mark was learning to be responsible. That’s a positive character trait. Draw students’ silhouettes on large white construction paper, using an overhead, and inside the silhouette, have students list their positive traits from A-Z. (Of course, a rough draft of the traits should be done first, using a dictionary whether on-line or hand-held, in class or assigned for homework.) Cut out the silhouette and place on a background of black construction paper, each child titling it, __(Student Name)_______from A-Z. This makes a beautiful display. And if you’re a counselor who does not do whole class lessons, try having small divorce groups in your office.
Carol Gordon Ekster taught for 35 years and became a children’s author at the end of that career. She now does daily yoga and works on her writing, happy to be able to continue communicating with children.
Thanks for your guest post, Carol. Thanks also for providing copies of your book, Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? for two winners! This giveaway will run through Wednesday, March 25, at 12:00 A.M.. EST.
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