education now

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Big Girls Letter to her New Teacher

Published July 9, 2014 by thefamilyof5

And finally here is Big Girls letter

Hello my name is Big Girl

My mummy has put together this little booklet to help you understand me.
In 2010 I came to live with my new mummy and daddy. I’ve had a very difficult start in life and this has meant that I’ve developed a little differently to other children, I’m emotionally and socially very behind so I might need you to be extra considerate of this sometimes and not expect me to be the same as the other children my age. I’m also have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder which Mommy says makes me very special as I get to see the world differently to everyone else.

Sometimes the adults that were in control of my early life did things to make me feel scared and frightened. This has meant that I find it very hard to trust adults and let other people be in control. I’ve been finding school very difficult, and I don’t always cope with this very well. Sometimes I might still feel scared and frightened, but I won’t know how to tell you this so I need you to keep a close eye on my behavior and my mood, I’m exceptionally good at pretending to be ok. If you’re unsure of how I’m feeling I probably won’t tell you what’s wrong even if you ask me. I only tell the people I really trust to keep me safe. Mommy says gaining my trust is the most important thing in the world ever and that Math and English will be easier for me once that’s sorted.

Classrooms can be quite scary for me. There are children all around me making noise and moving about and people walking around outside and up and down the corridors. Please help me by sitting me close to you and with my back to a wall and not to a door, that way I don’t need to be worried about what’s going on behind me. I also don’t like being too close to other children, It makes me feel squishy and I don’t like that, If I feel squished then I can’t think about anything else. Mommy says I need my space because I don’t like to be touched/nudged/knocked. My hearing is really good, I developed this early on as a way to keep myself safe, I can hear danger from miles away my mommy says. This means that I become easily distracted by other noises inside and outside of the classroom so concentrating is really tricky for me and I might not always hear what you’re saying, but I will always try to keep you happy ( as that’s when I will feel safest) so just because I say I understand what my work/homework is, it doesn’t mean I really do, I just don’t want to annoy you or let you down so please make sure I really have understood what you’ve asked me to do by asking me to explain it back to you. I might also hear conversations that are not meant for me, Mommy is always telling me I need to stop listening to adult conversations, please don’t be annoyed with me though, I can’t help it, I’m just trying to keep myself safe.

I don’t have much confidence and mummy says my self-esteem is rock bottom, so sometimes when you ask me to try to do something new I’m so scared of getting it wrong and upsetting you that I choose not to even try. I will need you to gently encourage me, but please don’t try and force me as this will scare me. Sometimes when it looks like I’m having lots of fun and behaving ‘silly’, I’m actually very anxious and need your help to calm me down and reassure me that everything is ok; this is usually when we’re doing something unstructured Mummy says, she says I need routine and lots of structure to feel safe.

I don’t want to talk about my past and my adoption in school, some of it is very upsetting and sad, Mommy says it’s probably because I’m not feeling secure enough yet and when I am I’ll be happy for the children to know more about me. Mommy says it’s very important that all the staff in school know that I’m adopted because otherwise they might accidentally say something that could upset me and that could be upsetting for them as well as for me.

I might worry about new topics, new tasks and tests. I’m always worrying about getting things wrong mommy says. I also might get worried if someone new comes into the classroom or even if I see a new face in the corridor, I might worry it’s a social worker coming to take me away or that something terrible has happened, my worries can be very dramatic mommy says. I might get upset if we do any work or topics on families or about when we were babies. Some of my memories may be difficult for me to think about as well as talk about, there may be things I don’t know about my early years making it even more difficult for me to take part. I might get worried about trips or new activities and will need you to explain to me exactly what is going to happen and what I will be doing and who will be keeping me safe, but if you can, please don’t tell me about things too early as I will worry about it at night when I’m trying to sleep. If I get really anxious, please let me know I can ring my mummy, sometimes just suggesting it is enough reassurance to let me know I’m safe and it’s all ok. My mummy is my safe base and I need to know she is there for me.

I really need you to help me this year to make some friends. It’s very difficult for me to be a friend because inside I don’t think I’m a very nice person so I think all the other children think that about me too. I very often have no one to play with and feel very lonely, this just makes me feel even sadder and more rubbish about myself. I find the playground very scary. I won’t always tell you I haven’t got a friend though because I’m very ashamed of this. I don’t really know how to make friends and I’m scared that if I try to be someone’s friend that they might not like me. There hasn’t been much in my life that I’ve been able to control so I prefer to do things my way as that’s when I feel safest, the other children don’t always want to do things my way and I find this frustrating and sometimes get angry and hurt myself in secret.

I don’t like telling my mummy when I’ve had a bad day as I worry she might be disappointed with me. So when I go home Mummy doesn’t understand why I’m so upset or angry and struggles to help me. It would really help my mummy if you could tell her about any upsets, sulks or strops I have at school even if they seem really insignificant, Mommy says I can make a mountain out of a mole hill with my worrying. Mummy likes to help me when I’ve been finding things difficult by keeping me close and calm and letting me talk things through so I can feel safe again and sleep at night.

My mummy has also put lots of useful information in this booklet, please copy anything you might want to refer to again or keep as a reminder but please give this book back to mummy when you’ve had a good read so she can update it and give it to my next teacher next year. If you want to talk to my mummy about anything in this book or anything you see me doing or hear me saying, she will be happy to chat, she can talk about me for hours and she knows me better than anyone else. Mommy says if there is anything she can do to help you, help me, she will.

I hope we have a lovely time learning together.

Middle Girls Letter to her New Teacher

Published July 9, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Following on from my previous post here is Middle Girls letter

Hello my name is Middle Girl

My mummy has put together this little booklet to help you understand me.
In 2010 I came to live with my new mummy and daddy. I’ve had a very traumatic start in life and this has meant that I’ve developed differently to other children, I’m emotionally very behind, I have speech and language difficulties and struggle with word finding, processing and memory. I also have a working diagnosis of Autism so I need you to be extra considerate of all of this and not expect me to be the same as the other children my age. Mummy says I’m a very complicated little girl that is very scared most of the time but she also says I’m the best at pretending to be OK and can trick most people, sometimes even her!

The adults in my early life did lots of things to make me feel scared and frightened, I never talk about them though because they’re too scary. I haven’t been able to trust anyone since, not even my new mommy and daddy. I will always do my best to keep the adults around me happy by being extra helpful and chatting to them, I smile a lot so that people will take less notice of me because if I look happy then the adults around me feel happy, if the adults are happy then I feel safer. Unhappy adults can be dangerous. I hide behind my smile because I’m scared. I need you to help me feel safe; mummy says it’s the most important thing ever.

I don’t have much confidence and my self-esteem is rock bottom my mummy says, I find my work really hard and I’m very behind but I don’t let that stop me, I always work enthusiastically because I want to please you, I need you to see when I’m pushing myself to hard and help me to see that you still think I’m great even if I get things wrong or don’t understand. I put myself under a lot of pressure to be great.

I might get upset if we do any work or topics on families or about when we were babies. Some of my memories are difficult for me to think about as well as talk about, there may be things I don’t know about my early years making it even more difficult for me to take part.

If I have a problem I will find it very difficult to explain and will need you to be really patient with me and not rush me because when I’m scared I can’t hear what you are saying or find the right words to speak, if you rush me I will worry that you’re getting angry and panic. Sometimes if it’s taking a while It’s better to tell me to have a think of the words I need and come back when I’m ready to talk. If other children talk for me or tell you their version of events I will just agree with them because it’s easier and I will think that you might get frustrated if I disagree, but this just makes me secretly angry with you for not giving me the chance to talk, even if you tried, I can be very irrational with my thinking mommy says. I will also get very worried if I think your angry. I might worry your annoyed with me because you’ve told someone else off. If you shout at someone, I will be really scared, if you shout at me I will be terrified. If I think your annoyed I wont hear what you say because I will be too frightened to listen.

I often get things mixed up and sometimes when you tell the class things like ‘if you have some shoe boxes at home please bring them for next week’s topic’ I’ll get very worried and tell mummy that I MUST have a box for the next day. Mummy understands that I get mixed up and tells me that if I need to take something into class then I must get a letter or note so she knows what is actually expected rather than my mixed up messages, please could you help me by making sure mummy knows if I need to bring anything in to school or do something for you, telling me to write it in my diary isn’t always enough, sometimes I can’t read what I’ve written or have forgotten what you said before I’ve had chance to write it but I won’t ask for help, please help me by making sure I have all the information to give to my mummy.

I don’t want to talk about my past and my adoption in school, some of it is very upsetting and sad, Mommy says it’s probably because I’m not feeling secure enough yet and when I am I’ll be happy for the children to know more about me. Mommy says it’s very important that all the staff in school know that I’m adopted because otherwise they might accidentally say something that could upset me and that could be upsetting for them as well as for me.

I love to play with my friends on the playground but mummy worry’s that my language and social difficulties make it difficult for me to ‘chat’ to my peers, please can you keep an eye on me on the playground and help me if I’m struggling with my peer group, I won’t ask for help. Sometimes if I’m struggling I will play with the boys because all they do is run about and that’s a lot easier for me, but actually I don’t like playing rough and feel quite scared sometimes if I get hurt in their games. I don’t even like running about, Mommy says I use so much energy worrying that I don’t have much left for moving never mind running and I don’t even sleep that much so my body is always exhausted.

I don’t like telling my mummy when I’ve had a bad day, I’m very good at hiding things from people because I have such a big smile. If mummy doesn’t know I’ve had a bad day then she won’t know I need her help to talk about things and If mummy doesn’t help me I will get angry and scream and shout at bedtime. Mummy likes to help me when I’ve been finding things difficult at school by keeping me close and calm and letting me talk about things so I can feel safer again, If my mommy does this every time I feel sad I will soon learn that I can trust her and that she can help me, It would really help my mummy if you could tell her about any upsets, sulks or strops I have at school even if they seem really small and unimportant, they might be important to me. I expect my mommy to read my mind, I expect her to know everything about me even if I don’t tell her, It will be the same with you, I need you to really ‘see’ me. If you think I’m happy and have settled in really quickly and appear to be having a great time and building a strong relationship with you, then you haven’t really ‘seen’ me and I’ve fooled you as well. I need to know that you’re listening to my mommy and that you’re both trying to keep me safe together. Mommy will know when I’m feeling secure in school because I will stop feeling angry at home on school days.

My mummy has also put lots of useful information in this booklet, please copy anything you might want to refer to again or keep as a reminder but please give this book back to mummy when you’ve had a good read so she can update it and give it to my next teacher next year. If you want to talk to my mummy about anything in this book or anything you see me doing or hear me saying, she will be happy to chat, she can talk about me for hours and she knows me better than anyone else. Mommy says if there is anything she can do to help you, help me, she will.

I hope we have a lovely time learning together.

Baby Girls Letter to her New Teacher

Published July 9, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Do you remember the ‘letters to teachers‘ that I did last year, well they were so popular that I felt almost obligated to share this years with you all. I’ve put together booklets for each of the girls new teachers with a covering letter along with Copy of Adoption UK’s Education Now magazine, the Understanding Why brochure from the National Childrens Bureau, a booklet called ‘Lets Learn Together’ from Adoption UK and a few articles that I’ve copied from various Magazines. So here goes!

Hello my name is Baby Girl

My mummy has put together this little booklet to help you understand me.
In 2010 I came to live with my new mummy and daddy. I’ve had a very difficult start in life and this has meant that I’ve developed a little differently to other children my age, I’m emotionally and socially very behind. I also have a working diagnosis of autism, you’ll need to be extra considerate of all of this and not expect me to be the same as the other children, mummy says ‘think aged 3’ and I’ll make more sense.

Sometimes the adults in my early life did things to make me feel very scared and frightened, my life was very chaotic. This means I find it very hard to trust adults around me to keep me safe. Mommy says I feel very anxious a lot of the time in school. When I’m anxious I worry about who will meet my needs, that can mean I spend a lot of time getting your attention, mummy says this can be exhausting sometimes and that it is because I need to know someone is keeping an eye on me. I feel frightened and alone if I think I’ve been forgotten so I will always do something to remind you I’m here. If I get really anxious, please let me know I can ring my mummy, sometimes just suggesting it is enough reassurance to let me know I’m safe and it’s all ok. My mummy is my safe base and I need to know she is there for me.

Sometimes I get worried about food, mummy says I’m obsessed with food especially when I’m stressed. Sometimes I might take other peoples food, mommy says this is because my rational brain is asleep when I’m at school because I’m so stressed out, so my survival brain takes over, this part of my brain doesn’t understand consequences so telling me off will have no effect, it will just frighten me even more. Mommy says the best way to handle me is to prevent me doing things in the first place by keeping a very close eye on me, this makes me feel safer and I am able to think more rationally about my choices. I like it when the TA is close by as she keeps an eye on me in class and this helps me to focus on my work. Mummy also says I’m very clever, super clever in fact, and if you help me to feel safe then I will stop worrying about being safe and will be able to show you just how clever I really am, you’ll be amazed!

I don’t want to talk about my past and my adoption in school, some of it’s very upsetting and sad and I don’t really understand most of it, Mommy says it’s also probably because I’m not feeling secure enough yet and when I am I’ll be happy for the children to know more about me. Mommy says its very important that all the staff in school know that I’m adopted because otherwise they might accidentally say something that could upset me and that could be upsetting for them as well as for me.

I find unstructured time at school a little overwhelming because I can’t regulate my behavior. Mummy says I’m a bit like a bottle of fizzy pop, and the excitement/stress of school shakes me up and up, so you need to help keep me calm so I don’t fizz all over the place. When I’m coping I’m very kind, considerate, thoughtful, chatty and sensitive.
I desperately want to be liked by everyone and to feel like I fit in, this might mean that I play games or with the types of children that scare me, remember inside I’m thinking like a 3 year old so lots of things scare me. I also find friendships very tricky mummy says, she says I’m very vulnerable and can be easily guided by children with strong personalities without me even realising. Help me to find kind and calm children to play with please, mummy says this is very important.

Sometimes when it looks like I’m having lots of fun and behaving ‘silly or excited’, I’m actually not coping very well and may need your help to calm me down and reassure me that everything is ok, telling me off will make me feel even more anxious. Mummy says I’m very sensitive, I pick up on people’s emotions and they can change the way I feel, so if someone in school gets upset or angry or stressed, it can make me feel all funny and stressed out too and I don’t even realise what’s happening. Sometimes Im feeling so anxious that I wont hear everything that you say, which means I might get worried about something I’ve mis-heard. Mommy says loud noises and smells can also cause me to become distracted and worried too, so I will need you to help me by keeping on eye on people and things around me that might upset me. I will also get very worried if I think your angry, sometimes I might think your angry just because your not smiling or I might worry your annoyed with me because you’ve told someone else off. If you shout at someone, I will be really scared, if you shout at me I will be terrified. If I think your annoyed I wont hear what you say because I will be too frightened.

If there are visitors in school I will be very frightened, I may even see the visitors before you because Im very nosey, so please try and stay one step ahead of me by knowing who is expected to visit school each day. I will need you to reassure me that I’m safe by explaining to me who they are and why they’re in school, If a visitor comes in to our class then I will need you to let me know I’m safe, If I don’t feel safe I might try and ‘please’ the visitor to make myself feel safe, I do this by being superficially charming and inappropriately affectionate mummy says.

If things change in school this will really worry me, even something simple like doing PE after break instead of before, will worry me and I will need you to prepare me for any change by explaining what’s happening but also telling me why so that I can understand, my brain works very fast, sometimes too fast, Mommy says my cognitive processing skills are excellent, so please explain things to me properly before my brain gets into a tizz and jumps to all sorts of peculiar conclusions.

I might get upset if we do any work or topics on families or about when we were babies. Some of my memories may be difficult for me to think about as well as talk about, there may be things I don’t know about my early years making it even more difficult for me to take part. I can get very confused and upset about my past.

I don’t like telling my mummy when I’ve had a bad day as I worry she might be disappointed with me. So when I go home after a tricky day Mummy doesn’t understand why I’m so upset or angry and struggles to know how to help me. It would really help my mummy if you could tell her about any upsets, sulks or strops I have at school even if they seem really insignificant, Mommy says I can make a mountain out of a mole hill with my worrying. Mummy likes to help me when I’ve been finding things difficult by keeping me close and calm and letting me talk things through so I can feel safe again and sleep at night. I like to know that you and mummy are working together, this helps me feel safe.

My mummy has also put lots of useful information in this booklet, please copy anything you might want to refer to again or keep as a reminder but please give this book back to mummy when you’ve had a good read so she can update it and give it to my next teacher next year. If you want to talk to my mummy about anything in this book or anything you see me doing or hear me saying, she will be happy to chat, she can talk about me for hours and she knows me better than anyone else. Mommy says if there is anything she can do to help you, help me, she will.

I hope we have a lovely time learning together.

check out my next 2 posts for middle girls and big girls letters.

Baby Girls letter to her new teacher.

Published July 1, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I’ve put together introduction booklets for the girls new teachers in September, last year I shared Big Girls letter and many of you commented on how much you liked it so I’m going to share them all with you this time.

Hello my name is Baby Girl

My mummy has put together this little booklet to help you understand me.

In 2010 I came to live with my new mummy and daddy. I’ve had a very difficult start in life and this has meant that I’ve developed a little differently to other children, I’m emotionally and socially very behind so I might need you to be extra considerate of this sometimes and not expect me to be the same as the other children my age.

Mommy says your school will be good for me as it’s small and calm and will help me feel safe, my last school was very big and busy and I felt very anxious a lot of the time. When I’m anxious I worry about who will meet my needs, that can mean I spend a lot of time in the medical room with fake hurts and invisible bumps, but please don’t send me away, I’m just making sure someone will take care of me. Sometimes I get worried about food as well, mummy says I’m obsessed with food when I’m stressed. Mummy also says I’m very clever and if you help me to feel safe then I will be able to stop worrying about making sure I’m safe and will be able to show you just how clever I really am.

Sometimes the adults in my early life did things to make me feel scared and frightened, my life was very chaotic. This means I find it very hard to trust adults around me to keep me safe. Mommy says I need to know you’re keeping an eye on me. If I think you’ve forgotten me I will do something silly to try and get your attention. Please let me know I’m safe by keeping a close eye on me. Because my life used to be so chaotic, I sometimes crave that familiar chaos around me, I find comfort in children that create chaos. Please help me to make better choices with my friendships, it’s important for me to learn that I can be happy without chaos in my life for me to be able to heal from my past traumas.

Sometimes when it looks like I’m having lots of fun and behaving ‘silly or excited’, I’m actually not coping very well and may need your help to calm me down and reassure me that everything is ok. I find unstructured time at school a little overwhelming because I can’t regulate my behavior. Mummy says I’m a bit like a bottle of fizzy pop, and the excitement of school shakes me up and up, so you need to help keep me calm to I don’t fizz all over the place. When I’m coping I’m very kind, considerate, thoughtful, chatty and sensitive.

I might get upset if we do any work or topics on families or about when we were babies.  Some of my memories may be difficult for me to think about as well as talk about, there may be things I don’t know about my early years making it even more difficult for me to take part. I can get very confused and upset about my past.

There hasn’t been many things in my life that I’ve been able to control so I like to take control of other things and I do this at school by not eating my lunch. Please help me to learn that not eating my lunch will only make me feel hungry, please don’t let me spend all of my lunch break in the dinner hall, Mommy says 20 to 30 minutes is plenty and please don’t give me snacks or milk if I say I’m hungry, mummy says she will make sure I don’t starve.

It would really help my mummy if you could tell her about any upsets, sulks or strops I have at school. I don’t like telling my mummy when I’ve had a bad day. Mummy likes to help me when I’ve been finding things difficult by keeping me close and calm so I can feel safe again.

My mummy has put this book together to help you understand me I hope you will read it. If you want to talk to my mummy about anything in this book or anything you see me doing or hear me saying, she will be happy to chat, she can talk about me for hours and she knows me better than anyone else.

My mummy has put lots of useful information in this booklet, please copy anything you might want to refer to again or keep as a reminder, please give this book back to mummy when you’ve had a good read so she can give it to my next teacher next year. Mommy says she knows me better than anyone else so if she can do anything to help you, help me, she will.

I hope we have a lovely time learning together.

Copies of Education Now and Understanding Why included.

Middle Girls letter to her new teacher.

Published July 1, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I’ve put together introduction booklets for the girls new teachers in September, last year I shared Big Girls letter and many of you commented on how much you liked it so I’m going to share them all with you this time.

Hello my name is Middle Girl

My mummy has put together this little booklet to help you understand me.

In 2010 I came to live with my new mummy and daddy. I’ve had a very difficult start in life and this has meant that I’ve developed a little differently to other children, I’m emotionally very behind, I also have difficulties with auditory processing and memory so I might need you to be extra considerate of this sometimes and not expect me to be the same as the other children my age.

Sometimes the adults in my early life did things to make me feel scared and frightened. I will always do my best to keep the adults around me happy by keeping them close, being extra helpful and chatting to them, I also smile a lot as adults like that.

My previous school was very big and very busy and even though I look like I enjoy school very much, I hide behind my smile because I’m scared, I need you to help me feel safe so that I don’t have to hide any more. I don’t have much confidence and my self-esteem is rock bottom my mummy says, I find my work really hard and I’m very behind but I don’t let that stop me, I always work enthusiastically because I want to please you, I need you to see when I’m pushing myself to hard and help me to see that you still think I’m great even if I get things wrong or don’t understand.

Sometimes when it looks like I’m having lots of fun and behaving ‘silly’, I’m actually very anxious and may need your help to calm me down and reassure me that everything is ok. I might get worried if I see a new face in the corridor, I might worry it’s a social worker coming to take me away to a new home. I might get upset if we do any work or topics on families or about when we were babies.  Some of my memories may be difficult for me to think about as well as talk about, there may be things I don’t know about my early years making it even more difficult for me to take part.

I often get things mixed up and sometimes when you tell the class things like ‘if you have some shoe boxes at home please bring them for next week’s topic’ I’ll get very worried and tell mummy that I MUST have a box for the next day. Mummy understands that I get mixed up and tells me that if I need to take something into class then I must get a letter or note so she knows what is actually expected rather than my mixed up messages, please could you help me by making sure mummy knows if I need to bring anything in to school or do something for you.

I love to play with my friends on the playground but mummy worry’s that my language difficulties might make it difficult to chat to my peers, please can you keep an eye on me on the playground and help me if I’m struggling with my peer group.

It would really help my mummy if you could tell her about any upsets, sulks or strops I have at school. I don’t like telling my mummy when I’ve had a bad day and I’m very good at hiding things from people because I have such a good smile. Mummy likes to help me when I’ve been finding things difficult by keeping me close and calm so I can feel safe again.

My mummy has put this book together to help you understand me I hope you will read it. If you want to talk to my mummy about anything in this book or anything you see me doing or hear me saying, she will be happy to chat, she can talk about me for hours and she knows me better than anyone else.

My mummy has put lots of useful information in this booklet, please copy anything you might want to refer to again or keep as a reminder, please give this book back to mummy when you’ve had a good read so she can give it to my next teacher next year. Mommy says she knows me better than anyone else so if she can do anything to help you, help me, she will.

I hope we have a lovely time learning together.

Copies of Education Now and Understanding Why, and Middle Girls Speech & Language Passport included.

Big Girls letter to her new teacher.

Published July 1, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I’ve put together introduction booklets for the girls new teachers in September, last year I shared Big Girls letter and many of you commented on how much you liked it so I’m going to share them all with you this time.

Hello my name is Big Girl

My mummy has put together this little booklet to help you understand me.

In 2010 I came to live with my new mummy and daddy. I’ve had a very difficult start in life and this has meant that I’ve developed a little differently to other children, I’m emotionally and socially very behind so I might need you to be extra considerate of this sometimes and not expect me to be the same as the other children my age. I’m also autistic which Mommy says makes me very special as I get to see the world differently to everyone else.

Sometimes the adults that were in control of my early life did things to make me feel scared and frightened. This has meant that I sometimes find it very hard to let adults be in control, sometimes I feel like the only way I can keep safe is to be in control myself. I might do this by being super helpful or chatting to you a lot. This sometimes means I forget to just be a little girl and do little girl things so I might need you to help me do things children do, rather than things adults do by helping me to feel safe. I sometimes forget the differences between adults and children and might try to get you to be my friend instead of my teacher, I’ll need you to make sure this doesn’t happen but please be careful not to reject me, I’ve suffered enough rejection my mummy says.

I’ve been finding school very difficult, my old school is big and busy and noisy and I don’t always cope with this very well which is why Mommy thinks your small, calm school will help me to feel relaxed and safe. Sometimes I might still feel scared and frightened, but I won’t know how to tell you this so I need you to keep a close eye on my behavior and my mood, I’m very good at pretending to be ok.

Classrooms can be quite scary for me. There are children all around and people walking around outside and up and down the corridors. Please help me by sitting me close to you and with my back to a wall and not a door, that way I don’t need to be worried about what’s going on behind me. My hearing is really good, I developed this early on as a way to keep myself safe, this means that I may become easily distracted by other noises inside and outside of the classroom, I might also hear conversations not meant for me, please don’t be annoyed with me, I’m just trying to keep myself safe.

I don’t have much confidence and my self-esteem is rock bottom my mummy says, so sometimes when you ask me to try to do something I’m so scared of getting it wrong and upsetting you that I choose not to even try. I will need you to gently encourage me, but please don’t try and force me as this will scare me. I will always try to keep you happy as that’s when I will feel safest so just because I say I understand what my work/homework is, it’s doesn’t mean I really do, I just don’t want to annoy you so please make sure I really have understood what you’ve asked me to do by asking me to explain it back to you.

Sometimes when it looks like I’m having lots of fun and behaving ‘silly’, I’m actually very anxious and need your help to calm me down and reassure me that everything is ok. I might worry about new topics, new tasks and tests. I will find it really hard to talk or read in front of the class so please don’t make me if I don’t want to. When I’ve learnt to trust you I might feel a bit braver and more willing to try.  I also might get worried if someone new comes into the classroom or even if I see a new face in the corridor, I might worry it’s a social worker coming to take me away. I might get upset if we do any work or topics on families or about when we were babies.  Some of my memories may be difficult for me to think about as well as talk about, there may be things I don’t know about my early years making it even more difficult for me to take part. I might get worried about trips or new activities and will need you to explain to me exactly what is going to happen and what I will be doing and who will be keeping me safe, but if you can, please don’t tell me about things too early as I may worry about it at night when I’m trying to sleep. If I get really anxious, please let me know I can ring my mummy, sometimes just suggesting it is enough reassurance to let me know I’m safe and it’s all ok.

I find the playground very scary. I don’t really know how to make friends and I’m scared that if I try to be someone’s friend that they might not like me. There hasn’t been much in my life that I’ve been able to control so I prefer to do things  my way as that’s when I feel safest, the other children don’t always want to do things my way and I find this frustrating and sometimes get angry and hurt myself. It would really help my mummy if you could tell her about any upsets, sulks or strops I have at school.

I don’t like telling my mummy when I’ve had a bad day as I worry she might be disappointed with me. Mummy likes to help me when I’ve been finding things difficult by keeping me close and calm so I can feel safe again.

My mummy has put this book together to help you understand me, I hope you will read it. If you want to talk to my mummy about anything in this book or anything you see me doing or hear me saying, she will be happy to chat, she can talk about me for hours and she knows me better than anyone else.

My mummy has put lots of useful information in this booklet, please copy anything you might want to refer to again or keep as a reminder, please give this book back to mummy when you’ve had a good read so she can give it to my next teacher next year. Mommy says she knows me better than anyone else so if she can do anything to help you, help me, she will.

I hope we have a lovely time learning together.

Copy of Education Now and Understanding Why Included.

Education Now – My Review

Published June 4, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Teachers in the UK get very little training if any at all, on attachment and the effects of early trauma, so its hardly surprising really that so many adopters struggle to get the needs of their children understood in school.  So I’m always trying to find ways of helping school to understand and support my girls better. Can you imagine how excited I was when I stumbled across Adoption UK‘s magazine called Education Now. I was elated. I quickly purchased several copies for school and a copy for myself.

“Education Now takes a more in-depth look at education and the various ways parents and teachers can work together to create a successful environment for children who have suffered early trauma, abuse or neglect.”

I’ve never written a ‘book review’ so I’m not sure if there is a right or wrong way to go about it, but I love this magazine so much that I almost feel morally obligated to tell you all about it. So here goes.

The magazine is introduced by Adoption UK’s editor Karam Radwan. She talks about the effects of early trauma and neglect and goes on to  talk about the impact of these and how it results in the child developing differently. A particular extract that I like is:

“Adopters and foster carers are nowadays taught about brain development and how to make up for early losses so they are able to parent their children therapeutically. That is helping the child to calm and regulate him or herself so they can deal with everyday situations without reacting in primitive ways of flight, fright or freeze.

It is obvious then that parents can come into conflict with teachers that may wonder why this child is any different, why they should do things differently for this child.

This magazine sets out to explain why things are indeed different and the type of strategies that can help this child or children to really move on from their past towards a much happier and emotionally stable future. These are strategies that could benefit a whole classroom or even school as it is based on providing a calm and safe environment for all.”

There is also then an introduction from Adoption UK’s Chief Executive Hugh Thornbery. Hugh talks about adoption statistics in the UK and how Adoption UK receive many calls from adopters seeking help with school related difficulties.

“For over 40 years, we at Adoption UK  have been providing support to adoptive families through those who are the real experts – other adopters.”

Following this is a great article by Helen Oakwater. Writer, coach and adoptive parent herself, she talks about ‘Why are these children any different?’ she starts by saying

“‘Its ok, I know all about dealing with adopted children because lots of the children in this class have divorced parents’ replied a teacher when i attempted to explain my daughters unique needs due to adoption. Oh how I wish I’d had this magazine; one copy for her, one for the staffroom”

This is such a great article, perhaps my favorite, being an adoptive mother of a sibling group for 2 decades she has a wealth of experience to share. She talks about everything from how looks can be deceiving right through to challenging erratic behavior. She covers how a child’s view of the world is impacted by what she describes as ‘toxic parenting’. She has some great illustrations throughout her article as well as a very easy to understand explanation of how unmet early needs creates insecurities. Just like ‘Wall Demonstration’ shown on Adoption UK’s website.

Next is an article by Adoption UK’s editor and adoptive mother Karam Radwan, she talks about ‘A different kind of parenting’.  Her article is very informative covering adoption process and some of the struggles that adoptive parents may face. She also talks about the effects of neglect and trauma and goes on to offer input on therapeutic parenting techniques and how and why they work.

“parenting and teaching a child can become very frustrating if after all your best efforts, attention and sympathy you are still confronted with a child who remains hostile and resistant or distant and disengaged.”

Then we have an article by the Chair of PACS (Post Adoption Central Support) Eileen Bebbington. She talks about ‘learning the language’.  She talks about hyper-vigilance, and how children may be too scared to ‘show weakness’.

“This calls for ingenuity from teachers. Again, they can say to the whole class that you know some of them will find it hard to ask for help and see if they can come up with non-verbal ways to do it. Perhaps children could have a coloured card they can place on a table when they need help.  Alternatively a code word.” 

She talks about other language barriers that the children may present with and how this might look in a classroom environment. She also talks about school policy.

“These issues are so important that they need policy decisions at school level, not just by individual teachers”.

Next Dr Caroline Ross-McCall, an educational psychologist working for a London Borough, recently completed a doctorate which focused on the education of adopted children. In this article, Dr Ross-McCall summarises what would make a difference in they eyes of teachers and parents.

“A finding from this study was the call for the profile of adopted children in schools to be raised, so that there is greater recognition of their potential vulnerability and priority given to quickly identifying and responding to any needs that may arise.”

Following that is an article by experienced teacher and adoptive parent Sue Gott. ‘She draws on research into attachment, resilience and neurological development and the therapeutic approaches used in counselling to develop realistic classroom strategies to nurture and support the learning of children struggling with social, emotional and behavioral difficulties’.  She uses ‘Demi’ as the name for the adopted child she refers to throughout her article. She talks about how star charts and conventional behavior management strategies didn’t work for Demi. She talks about how a ‘different way of teaching’ might offer opportunities to go back and fill the gaps. She talks about the benefits of Nurture Groups but also the reality that for some schools this is just not a financial option. I particularly like that she comments of the differences between chronological and emotional ages.

“For the child with insecure attachment difficulties recognition of emotional age is the key to effective differentiation and intervention. The phrase ‘Thinking Toddler’ coined by Caroline Archer, herself an adoptive parent, neatly sums up the discrepancy between chronological age and emotional age.”

Next is an article about supporting children affected by insecure and disrupted attachments, trauma and loss by PAC schools trainer Julia Clements. She explains the importance of nurture and structure for traumatised children. She gives lots of tips and advice on how to offer nurturing opportunities even things as simple as offering thick drinks to drink through a straw, or sucking a drink through a sports cap as these are known to soothe children. She also offers tips and advice on structure and boundaries and things as simple as sitting on the same spot on the carpet each day and visual timers etc. I particularly like her suggestions of Louise Bombers ‘Calm Box’

A calm box is a tool that can be used by an adult that has established a good relationship with a child, once the adult is working well with a child, they may want to use a calm box to help the child to regulate their emotions. A calm box is a box with a lid which contains cards which outline simple activities which are known to reduce a child’s level of arousal and help them to feel calm again’

She then goes on to talk about sensitive issues that may arise with particular subjects, most are fairly obvious, baby photo’s and family tree’s etc but some are less obvious, for example some children with a history of abuse may feel uncomfortable changing for PE in front of others.

Next is an article by Louise Bomber, as a teacher and therapist she has worked in schools on many levels. She starts with thought provoking opening line.

“Have you ever been misunderstood or felt bewildered, suspicious, confused or frustrated  well, this is familiar territory for the pupil who has experienced significant relational traumas and losses”

She talks about how a child that has suffered significant relational trauma and losses may view the world, there’s clearly a reason why she is so highly regarded in her field, she offers great insight in her article. Here are a few of my favorite lines.

“If the world was viewed through an insecure attachment lens anything can happen at anytime”.

“Pupils are not the same: each pupil is different in their developmental needs and therefore so are school staffs required and necessary responses.”

“Experience has shaped their world and influences the present as if the past were reality right now”

Next is another great article by Marion Allen, adoptive parent and educational consultant, this article is available online and can be read in full here “What you dont know will harm them”

Next Sue Clifford, adoptive mum of nine shares some of her experiences with her article ‘How to Avoid Triggering Trauma Memories’.  she talks about the adoptive parents role in helping and supporting the teaching staff involved by helping them to understand the effects of trauma on the child’s development and helping them to see things from the child’s perspective, past and present. She also covered the curriculum and how some area’s may trigger trauma memories.

“History:  The study of World War Two with stories of children being evacuated and move to other families resonates with children who have been moved from family to family with no control over what happens to them”

‘Working with parents’ is the next article by Sarah Allkins, Co founder of Chrysalis Associates,  adoptive parent and former foster carer.

” To help a vulnerable young person in school, teachers and parents need to work together and understand each other”

She details some of the problematic behaviors that are presented in school and how schools need to work together with parents and find strategies that work. She details common danger area’s in schools such as ‘unstructured times’ and even gives examples of specific consequences that don’t work, and those that do.

Finally there is an article titled ‘Helping children to Start Again’ by play therapist, drama therapist  and registered adoption support worker Joan Moore. She shares her top tips for teachers to help understand and work with children who have extra needs. She uses a great case study as an example of how engaging in play can help children. She talks about the difficulties children face in school and also cover’s the effects trauma has on development.

“Traumatised children are always ‘on guard’, their normality is a state of high arousal that leaves them unable to think straight, liable to misread a troubled expression on an adults face as anger and disapproval  and suffering shame at her lack of control. Some dissociate but their suppression of feelings may only delay their return to equilibrium (Carroll 2001).”

I really don’t think my review covers just how great as resource this magazine is, the best way to find out for yourselves is to buy a copy or 10, and share it with schools in the hope that things will change. In fact I think ALL schools should have at least one copy!

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