By Amanda Purvis, COPARC Project Director
Well, it happened. Summer is almost over. School emails keep dinging in my inbox. School fees have been paid; boxed lunches, uniforms, all of the #2 sharpened pencils and Crayola 24-count crayons, they’ve been bought.
And now it’s time to make that decision that we as parents of kids from hard places struggle with making every single year at this time. What do we say to the new teacher? Anything? Everything? Some where in between? As a parent, I am looking for the right combination of words to fill this teacher with deep levels of understanding on developmental trauma and its effects on the brain, compassion that will carry them through some tough days, and huge levels of thanksgiving, because teachers are heroes.
So here is a note to all the teachers who will help us parent our children from trauma, from all of us parents, foster parents, kin parents, adoptive parents, and all of the other beautiful ways we find ourselves parenting these amazing kids. Here’s to you teachers!
I am so sorry that you don’t get paid your worth in gold. If I could change that today, I would! You are a hero in our home!
I wanted to give you a little insight into my kiddo. I am not sure if you have heard things from previous teachers or not, but I wanted to give you some info that I hope will help you in creating a fun and safe learning environment for him, and everyone else in your classroom, this year.
My kiddo experienced lots of trauma before he came to us. We are one of many, many homes he has lived in, and that’s not counting the many shelters that he called home as well. The traumas that he experienced as a young child have made him different than the average kid in our upper-middle class school. His brain literally looks different in a brain scan than that of the average child of his same age. And yet he looks just like the other eight year olds in your class this year.
With that in mind, if I could encourage you with just one thing it would be this: connect. It is hard for him to trust people, and his self-talk is really horrible. He thinks he is undesirable, that he is the worst in his class. He thinks no one likes him, and that he is stupid. But when you, and I, connect with him- we have a chance to change this inner-voice of his. If you lead each day with a point of connection for him, he is much more likely to stay connected, and feel safe, so that he can learn and grow like the other kids in your class this year. When you are not sure what to do with him, when he is acting angry or aggressive, my guess is that he is probably afraid and feeling shameful. It might feel really foreign to you, but would you please try to just connect with him? Just help him calm down, and speak over him the words that we want every child to think about themselves. Remember, he didn’t have anyone to teach his little baby brain and body how to calm down, no one spoke over him that he was precious and smart. No one helped him learn how to calm down when he was upset. So we, as his parents, have some catch up work that we are working on, and if you would help us this year, we would be eternally grateful.
If you are interested in other tips and tricks, or ways of getting to know him before school starts, please, let us know. We’d love to send you some more info.
Again, we are so appreciative of what you do, thank you for devoting yourself to teaching our kiddos!
With all of our hearts,
The Purvis Family.
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