Lessons from an 8 year old (part 1)

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Education is a constant battle for most children who have experienced early trauma. My husband and I have three adopted children who all struggle to one degree or another with their school. Whilst it is a small, caring, understanding school that try their best to accommodate our children, there are still some times when they get it wrong. They just don’t get it – which is understandable as many times we don’t either.

Recently our youngest has had a few issues in his classroom, so I wanted to share some lessons from his experience, as I know they will be common to others. The first lesson for today is about:

Moving towards independence

As children move up in the years most school teachers seem to be obsessed with independence – “they should be old enough now to remember what to bring into school”, “they need to think for themselves and be independent in their thought processes”, “we can’t hold their hands all the time”. These and other statements, or at least the sentiment of them, are commonplace from teaching staff. Whilst you might believe that to be the case for children who have had a nurturing, stable background, for our children they are just not ready to be independent.

Independence comes from being truly dependent on someone else. In most cases our children have not been fully dependent on others. They have had to look after themselves sometimes physically, emotionally and mentally. They have come to believe through their negative early attachment experiences that adults cannot be trusted, at least the ones who should have met their needs! As a result they become self-reliant. They know to depend on themselves and this makes it incredibly difficult for them to ask for help and admit they may need other people.

So where does this leave us as parents and educators, in terms of encouraging independence? We need to help our children become dependent on adults first – to build the trust between the significant people in their lives so that they can become truly dependent again, and then slowly move towards independence. This means we will still need to help them remember things they need to take into school, to accept that our children may not retain the information given verbally, and to know that they need to be helped as much as possible with their work and in their relationships with others.

Lesson number two tomorrow….

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