The effects of trauma can manifest themselves in a variety of ways in the classroom.
8 ways to help students who experienced trauma
Students may withdraw socially, act out, have trouble focusing or refuse to work as a team. Teachers can help students who have experienced trauma by keeping the following tips in mind.
1. They Aren’t Trying to Annoy You
It may feel like these students are deliberately trying to push your buttons, but they aren’t. These are just the common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
2. Routines Can Help
Kids with PTSD worry about what’s going to happen next. You can alleviate this worry by establishing set routines in the classroom. Post a schedule of the day’s activities and stick to it.
3. The Trauma May Seem Small to You
Kids are more sensitive. What may seem relatively minor to you – a move to a new town, being bullied or getting a new sibling – can cause major stress for a child. Acknowledge the student’s feelings and take them seriously so the student feels supported.
4. The Details Don’t Matter
Sometimes families wish to keep things private. If you sense a child has experienced trauma, it’s enough to understand what they’re feeling. Don’t ask the parents or child to explain any more than their comfortable with sharing.
5. Help the Child Succeed at Something
Students who have experienced trauma need to know they can achieve success at something. Offer a variety of activities so that students can excel at something in the classroom and feel good about themselves.
6. Stress Gets in the Way of Learning
Students who have experienced trauma will not be able to learn as effectively as their peers. While the student is going through this time, try to be lenient with their scores. Give credit for effort as well as the right answers.
7. Ask What You Can Do
If the situation warrants it, you can have a private conversation with the student to ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Maybe they would prefer a seat by the window, or to be excused from recess for a few days.
8. Be Available to Parents
Parents of students who have experienced trauma may need to have extra parent-teacher conferences. Make sure the parents are aware of your extra availability.
These tips will enable you and your students to get through this traumatic time together.