Children In Trauma: How You Can Help

If you’re in education, you know that trends and buzz words seem to come and go quickly from school year to school year. As our students are now living through a global pandemic, we’re hearing more and more about ‘children in trauma’. Some argue that this is not a new phenomenon…that we’ve always been responsible for children with struggles and that ‘troubled kids’ have simply been given a fancy new label. However, today’s latest research highlights the incredible impact that traumatic experiences can have on our girls and boys. We now know that stressful events…and, boy oh boy, our world is full of those more than ever before… have the ability to reach toxic levels. That toxic stress has the potential power to affect the brain, therefore altering the academic, social and emotional growth of our students experiencing distress. While some of this requires specialized training for schools and can even call for outside interventions, there are a few strategies that classroom teachers can immediately implement to provide support that won’t only be helpful to children in trauma, but to the entire class!

  • Predictability

More often than not, chaos and sensing that things are out of control accompany trauma-related experiences for kids (and even for adults!). That’s why predictability and routines are key to creating a culture of calm and safety within your classroom. When expectations are clear and consistent over time, children grow in confidence and in their ability to self-monitor. Speaking of building confidence…

  • Confidence

Providing opportunities for children to grow in self-confidence is a gift that will last a lifetime, particularly for students in trauma. Taking the time to present new learning and skills in a thoughtful manner that allows children to first be scaffolded, then to provided with ample opportunities for practice, and, finally, to become independent is a very effective way to empower them.

  • Relationships

Depending upon the circumstances, children who have experienced trauma often don’t know whom they can trust, making communicating & relationship building with peers and teachers feel very risky. Deliberately giving children the language and techniques necessary to interact with others in an age-appropriate, friendly manner lays the perfect foundation for beginning to build kind and caring relationships with others.

When it comes to supporting our most fragile students, there is certainly lots of work to be done! Take those first steps to that work by building relationships, growing student confidence, and creating a safe & predictable classroom environment. You’ll be glad you did!

To dive deeper into how you can recognize and meet specific student needs through social emotional learning strategies, continue reading this four part series! 

If you’d like to learn how GrapeSEED helps children to acquire English in a way that naturally builds independence through the progression of learning approach, allowing them to experience predictability and confidently interact with teachers and peers, click here.