Impact on Learning
“Yeah, it was hard because I couldn’t concentrate on my work, and if I was reading, I would read the words but I wouldn’t read the story. I would think about something else and I couldn’t concentrate.” (Student)
This module addresses the impact of grief on learning. Temporary academic challenges are common among grieving students and should be anticipated. Review the module to learn more about proactive steps educators can take to offer support, appropriately modify assignments, and prevent academic challenges from becoming academic failure.
It is common for children to experience academic challenges after the death of a family member or close friend. These may occur immediately after the death, or weeks or months later. By anticipating these challenges and acting proactively, educators can offer support that prevents academic decline or failure.
Typical experiences for grieving students include:
- Difficulty concentrating, distractibility
- Difficulty remembering new facts or concepts
- Anxiety, sadness, sleeping problems—all of which contribute to difficulty learning
Teachers and other school professionals can help by:
- Speaking to students directly and asking them to let you know if they’re experiencing challenges
- Changing assignments (invite the student to work with a partner instead of alone, or make a video instead of doing a presentation or formal research paper; offer later due dates)
- Alter focus or timing of a lesson (choose a new reading if the original one includes a death similar to what the student has experienced; postpone the health lesson on drug overdose if a sibling of one of the students recently died this way)
- Reschedule or adapt tests (exempt the student from testing immediately after a death, offer extra time to complete a test, retest at a later date, offer an open-book alternative)