Let’s Discuss…Supporting Your Adopted Child in School
Supporting a care experienced child in education is not just about learning common words, listening to recorder practices or making outfits for the nativity show, and there are many ways for parents and schools to provide additional support to encourage a successful and happy school experience.
We found that first and foremost it is important to establish a good two way communication with the school, the class teacher and head teacher alike. At first, advocating for my child’s needs in a busy school was not always the easiest thing to do. It is easy to feel as though you are a neurotic, overly protective parent, that you are bothering the teacher, or for your child to be dismissed as a “wee character”, but the training that we received from St Margaret’s as wannabe adopters many moons ago on attachment theory, ACEs and brain development is invaluable in explaining rather than excusing behavioural issues that arise, from impulse control in the playground, to being incapable of concentrating because of a change of teaching staff in the classroom or something else that has happened at home.
It has also helped to form the support plan put in place to remove barriers to learning for our eldest child, identifying what works (continuity of teaching staff, having a point of contact in the playground when social interactions can get out of hand, taking time to listen to them when they articulate their emotions) and what definitely does not work (exclusion from activities and behaviour charts, I’m looking at you!). It has also served to reduce or sometimes eliminate flashpoints in the school day, by changing toileting arrangements and better supervising transitions from one activity to another. Queuing for lunch and getting jackets on are now not regular behavioural minefields!
Every school and every teacher is different, with varying levels of interest or ability to engage appropriately with the needs of your child, and in our relatively short experience as parents of a schoolchild we have seen quite the range of attitudes on display. But the school does have a responsibility to your child irrespective of their background. My experience is that the best path to do this is one of mutual and continual education and communication between the school, parents and child.
The staff in our school has all attended the training offered by St Margaret’s Education Services and this has been such a benefit to our children specifically and the rest of the school generally. I would encourage all parents to bring this to the attention of the management team of their school if they have not had the training. Working with the staff in St Margaret’s, our school has finessed their Nurture Room which allows our eldest, and others, to relax or to work out frustrations with a specific member of support staff. Having this facility and a class teacher who puts the ACEs training into action in the class room has allowed him to grow in confidence and to flourish educationally and socially.
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