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Not all students are lucky enough to have parents invested in their education – and yes, it can be tough teaching students without parental help.

Whether for innocent reasons, neglect, or other home-life situations, not every student has a parent that can show up for them – even when they’re needed the most. As teachers, we know that this problem is all-too-common in schools, with parents failing to turn up for important meetings, check their children’s grades, or even get involved in a meaningful level in helping them to succeed.

Thankfully, as educators, we can offer students from all walks of life support to help them do well in education. But without the care and interest of parents or guardians, that support isn’t enough to keep them going unless we step up our game. So when it comes to students without that all-important safety net at home, what can we do to help? Read on for a few pointers.

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Keep an eye out for issues at home

It’s a fact that not all parents can be there to support their children, despite their best efforts. Maybe they need to work around the clock, or they have younger siblings to look after – or perhaps even a struggle with physical or mental health. But beyond these issues, keeping your eyes peeled for problems at home is a vital part of your job as a teacher. For example, students who don’t have clean clothes or food daily may be warning signs of something going wrong at home. If you notice something out of the ordinary, speaking to the school counselor or social services should be your next step.

Get other adults or support systems involved

There isn’t always a straightforward answer to solving a student’s problems at home, but one of the things we can do as teachers is helping to build up that support network around them and their families. This support network could be trustworthy adults, external systems, or specific counseling services. Examples of support your students may need to include:

  • A mentor, coach, or family member able to offer support to your student
  • Specific counseling services and charities for children and teenagers
  • Legal and health services for the student and their family
  • Financial support services or internal support systems for low-income students

These support systems can help provide a network for your student and their family, which will be especially valuable if they struggle. The more people and systems that can support your students, the better, to take some of the weight off their shoulders and provide them with a little more stability.

Think of ways to support their parents

In some cases, it isn’t negligence that results in students having a tough home life. Many circumstances can result in families living below the poverty line or struggling to get by, from mental health to language barriers to lack of work. Anything, from lack of work to divorce and other issues, can quickly spiral to worsening conditions for the whole family. As a teacher, you can think of ways to support your students’ parents to help them be more connected with their child’s education. Examples of this could be consolidating events together, such as meetings, concerts, and plays, to save on the cost of travel. Providing food to low-income families is another solution through charities or local businesses, as well as providing translations of essential documents such as letters home or reports.

For students without parental help, school can be even more difficult than most. But with the support of teachers and education staff around them, as well as the support of other students, these circumstances don’t need to mean a lack of success. By going the extra mile, we can help students from all walks of life to do better – and meet their goals without fear of falling behind.