The Wellbeing Team delivered an informative PD session to staff on the effects of Trauma on our students and how Trauma effects students ability to engage in learning due to its effects on brain function , its relation to building relationships , memory and cognitive functioning and behaviour.
Experiences of elevated, prolonged stress or trauma rock the very core of young people. In these circumstances, children are overwhelmed with the internal reactions that race through their brains and bodies. They do anything to survive, not because they want to but because they need to. They shut down their feelings. They push away memories of pain. They stop relying on relationships around them to protect them. They stop trusting and believing in others.
Traumatised and stressed children and young people have little space left for learning. Their constant state of tension and arousal can leave them unable to concentrate, pay attention, retain and recall new information. Their behaviour is often challenging in the school environment. They struggle to make positive peer relationships.
The outcome of trauma on children and young people are multiple, yet they are not well understood. These children are often labelled as disruptive, defiant and poor learners at high risk of disconnecting from school.
With support, children and young people can, and do, recover from the harmful effects of trauma. To do so, however, they need adults in their lives to be understanding of and responsive to their unique needs. They cannot easily adapt and change to their environment. Their environment and the people in it must adjust to help them. These children and young people need the space to learn to be created for them by those who care for and support them.
The focus of the PD session was to inform staff but to also look at ways of building resilience in our young people to take positive steps in moving forward in their education and increasing their sense of school engagement and belonging . The key to supporting them at school is to use the knowledge base about the neurobiology of trauma to understand them – their behaviour and their needs. And with such understanding comes hope.
Hope is present for children when they can rely on the adults around them to be consistent, dependable and nurturing. Children begin to feel anchored in the present and trust in the future. Children with hope and confidence are adaptable in the face of challenges. With belief in themselves they begin to do better at school. They find they can more easily make and keep friends. Their relationships with their family improve. They are happier in themselves.
School itself becomes easier to navigate. Children and young people experience themselves congruently in the classroom. They have greater attentive capacity. They have access to more of their memory resources. They can take in new information and store it. They can recall it and integrate it. They develop skills. They learn and come to enjoy learning. Change becomes something to embrace. Their teachers are safe and supportive. Their potential to succeed at school has been unlocked…


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