H4HK FAQs: It’s Hard to Focus on School Since the Divorce. What Should I Do?

Hard to Focus on School

H4HK FAQs are designed to answer questions kids and teens ask when facing difficult situations and circumstances in their lives.

Many children report that they just can’t concentrate on school, or just don’t care, since they found out that their parents are getting a divorce.  Many see a decrease in their grades and test scores, and some take years to “catch back up” if they ever do. If you find yourself in this situation, there are some steps you can take (or you can ask your parents to take) to help.

  • Talk to your teachers, and let them know what is going on in your family if your parents haven’t already done that. Chances are that they care about you, and they will be willing to help you with your work through this difficult time.  Whether it is more attention, more time to complete assignments, extra tutoring or just a listening ear, whatever they are willing to offer can help you both with your school work and with getting back into a pattern. It might not seem like it now, but eventually many aspects of your life (like school) will get back to a normal pattern, and your teachers can help you to get through this difficult time until you get back to that pattern.
  • Find a trusted adult to talk to about your emotions and struggles related to the divorce. When you keep all of that bottled up inside, your brain tends to focus on it leaving little brain power for homework and school.
  • Talk to your friends. If they know what’s going on, they can help you study, give you notes when you “zone out” in a class or need someone to explain something to you.
  • If you’re having trouble concentrating, force yourself to take detailed notes in class (even about those things you already know). If you make this a habit it forces you to concentrate, and as an added benefit, it might help to keep your mind off the divorce for a little while.
  • Tell your parents that you are struggling at school and why. They might not be in a position to help you, but at least they won’t be surprised by it.
  • Try to get homework done as soon as possible. Life is crazy right now, and if you leave your homework to the last second, there is a good chance that something, or someone, will come up that keeps you from getting it done.
  • Get a planner. Let’s face it, you’ve got a lot going on in your life and a lot to keep track of these days. Get a calendar or a planner to keep track of where you need to be and when in addition to your homework.
  • Fund time to be a kid. It’s easy to get so caught up in what’s going on with the divorce that you forget your primary job – to be a kid. It’s ok to take time to have fund and run and play with your friends.  Give your brain a break from worrying about the divorce and it will be in better shape in terms of doing your schoolwork.
Find answers to other frequently asked questions on our H4HK FAQs Page. For more resources and information on divorce, family disruption and modern families please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Divorce and Modern Family Help Center.

Written by Wayne Stocks
Wayne is the founder and executive director of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. He is a happily married father of four kids with a passion for helping young people who are going through rough times. In addition to Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne previously started I Am A Child of Divorce and Divorce Ministry 4 Kids to help kids who are dealing with the disruption of their parents' relationship. These are now part of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Wayne speaks frequently at conferences and churches on issues related to helping kids learn to deal with difficult emotions and life in modern families. Wayne lives with his wife, three youngest kids, three dogs and an insane collection of his kids' other pets outside of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to his work with Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne is a partner in a local consulting firm, an avid reader, coaches his son's soccer team and is a proud supporter of Leicester City Football Club (and yes, for those in know, his affinity for the club does predate the 2016 championship). You can reach Wayne at wayne@hope4hurtingkids.com.