Understanding the Child’s Experience in School
Children who have experienced early trauma and multiple caregivers struggle with many school-based expectations. When the brain is formed under conditions of chronic stress the child’s body can become easily dysregulated and have more difficulty returning to a state of calm. Another important consideration is that a child’s development in the early years of school might be impacted by their adoption experience. Adoption research tells us that between the ages of six and nine (relative to a child’s other areas of development) a child will develop the capacity to understand to a greater degree the idea that in order for them to be ‘chosen’ for adoption they first just have experienced someone choosing not to parent them. Understandably, this can be quite devastating. The result of the adoptees early losses, difference in brain development and the psychological awareness of their adoption experience becoming more profound as they move through elementary school, can lead to performance difficulties and concerning behaviours. Understanding the clear relationship between learning and a child’s fear system, early sensory experiences and early templates of caregivers sets the stage for successful learning. We offer several services that support children and families in educating and increasing awareness of the need for trauma informed classrooms and specific interventions for children who have experienced early trauma.
School Based Observations
Upon invitation by a child’s parent or caregiver AND the approval of a child’s school, our ACS therapists offer in school observations. A therapist will attend the child’s classroom (preschool or daycare) and observe the child participating in daily activities. The length of time required to observe is situation and child dependent. The purpose of the observation is to assess the child’s state of regulation, participation, behaviors and relationships with peers and adults. The observation findings are summarized and shared either in a school meeting, with the parent or caregiver only or in a written report to be shared at the parent or caregiver’s discretion. School observations are beneficial in understanding a child’s behavior through a trauma lens and supporting those around the child with practical strategies that will help the child achieve greater school success.
School Based Meeting or IEP Consultation
Upon the request of a child’s parent or caregiver, an ACS therapist will attend a school-based meeting or Individual Education Planning meeting to discuss how to best support a child in an educational setting. The therapist can support the development of planning and goals but bringing a trauma informed lens and an understanding of how to build safety and security into each goal. The therapist when invited to, will offer information to school personnel that will increase their knowledge of teaching adoptees and other children who have experienced trauma.
School Counsellor Clinical Supervision
School counsellors and other support staff who would like clinical supervision to build their trauma informed, attachment based practices in the school setting are welcome to book sessions with one of our clinical supervisors, Meagan VanDeirmen and Andrea Chatwin.
To inquire about a school-based service for your child or school please contact us directly. For more information on trauma informed school based practices, A Child’s Song offers a workshop entitled Teaching the Hurt Child as well as a Teaching the Hurt Child Manual.