Date of Award

2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

School

School of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Carmel Maloney

Abstract

The number of children who have experienced the separation of their parents is constantly rising. An increasing amount of children arc entering classrooms contending with their day-to-day stressors as well as the stress originating from then home lives. Many of these children are not prepared with the knowledge or understanding of their stressor, nor are they equipped with strategies that would help them deal with stress. Observations and interviews were conducted with four children who had experienced the separation and divorce of their parents over a period of six months. As the data for this study needed to be rich and informative, a qualitative methodology was chosen. Data was collected using participant observations and semi-structured interviews. The data is presented in case study formal. Each case study explores each participant's family background, classroom, context, their teacher, the quality of their interactions with teachers and peers and the participant's social competence. A number of factors emerged from the data. Firstly, for children to cope effectively with their stressors, they need to develop the three support systems of esteem, social and informational support Secondly, it emerged that the classroom teacher has an important role to play in assisting children cope with stress. Finally, it appeared from the data that teachers lack the knowledge and skills that are necessary in helping children learn how to cope with their stressors. Further research in this area will help teachers know how to respond to these children, thus strengthening our resolve to provide children with the best quality education.

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