Can you believe it? It’s back-to-school season, already! Every summer just seems to go by faster and faster. Back to school means excitement towards new things, new teachers, sometimes new buildings, and other countless amounts of change. With this being said, there can be a bunch of fears for not only students and parents but also teachers.
Mindful Teachers & The Pain of Change
Most teachers go in a few weeks early, before their students, to prepare themselves and their classrooms for the following school year. One thing that is not necessarily easy to plan for is children who have been traumatized or are in unsafe living conditions. It is super vital that leaders in the school system are mindful of how to approach these children and families. It’s important to understand that childhood trauma can lead to multiple scenarios such as the increased risk of emotional, behavioral, physical, & interpersonal difficulties. Trauma can impact several areas of functioning and development, maladaptive behaviors and emotional responses, and new symptoms as children encounter stressors. Children spend so much of their beginning years in school around educators. We need to put a priority on educating and equipping our teachers on trauma informed care and practices.
How educators can implement trauma-informed practices in the classroom:
- Create a safe space with sensory items
- Establish relationships/connection before correction
- Establish predictability
- Be mindful of your tone so it’s not shaming
- Offer choices to give shared power to the child
Family Dynamics During School Season:
If your family thrives on consistency and scheduling, you probably enjoy getting back into the school groove. However, there are many children in foster care who have never had that kind of consistency. Change can be very triggering to them, especially at the start of a new school year. Let’s consider how kids in foster homes or those without homes feel about going back to school.
What parents can do to prepare their child for the school year:
- Request parent-teacher conferences before the school year begins
- Review their daily schedules with pictures or words
- Share what’s appropriate of the child’s story for the child to be as successful as possible in the classroom (ie: triggers, who are safe people, etc). Remember this is the child’s story and every detail does not need to be shared.
- Give plenty of chill time after school. The first few weeks may require extra margin. Don’t wait until a child or yourself becomes dysregulated to take breaks.
However this back-to-school season looks like for you, Tennessee Kids Belong is here to support you.