The effects of divorce on elementary students and the benefits of integrating a unit titled, Divorce Awareness

The purpose of this study was to research and learn the effect of divorce on fifth grade students and to understand the benefits of integrating a unit titled, "Divorce Awareness." Thirty-two fifth grade students, sixteen from divorced families and sixteen from intact families were used in this study. The four tasks used in this unit were as follows: having the students draw a picture of their family, listen to a read aloud about a family going through the beginnings of a divorce, titled, It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear, completing a questionnaire and a journal entry with questions relating to how to deal with divorce, coping strategies for all students, and what a family consists of. The objectives for the "Divorce Awareness" unit were for students to understand what divorce is and what some of the coping strategies are for themselves and others, and for students to understand what a family consists of. The majority of the research that was found, mentioned many negative effects come from students in schools such as, lower grades, less participation, less confidence, more acting out behavior and higher drop out rates. In the unit, it was found that most students benefited from the unit in that, they learned what divorce was, how to empathize with other students, how to cope with divorce themselves and what a family consists of. Many students went into the unit, with a feeling of nervousness and low self-confidence and came out feeling more knowledgeable and more confident, especially the students with divorced parents. It is my hope that other teachers can integrate this unit into their curriculum and will also benefit from the ideas and research in order to help and understand all students. Keywords: Divorce, Intact Families, Intervention