School either has started or will start very soon for many children this coming week. It is incredibly challenging for our teachers to help students figure out how to calm themselves after a busy summer and more so after a life that has a trauma history. Those students tend to be dysregulated and unable to focus and sometimes struggle to control their emotions and behaviors.
At Lakeside, we believe that it’s important to launch every school year and every class with a sense of calm before we teach academics. If a student’s brain is regulated, then they can relate to their teachers and peers which leads to better capacity to learn. However, if a student begins the year, the day or a class in a state of high alert in the brain there will be increased difficulty in managing the students and the environment of the classroom. It’s good to be reminded that calm brains are capable brains and setting a calming environment is the best way to teach and manage classrooms.
Lori Desautels in her consultation work with St. Mary’s Early Childhood Center in Indianapolis has recognized that so many of the children there have a trauma history and are not able to regulate and function even at 3, 4 or 5 years old.
She states, “Many of these children have experienced significant adversity and trauma, and their brains are functioning in a survival state originating from these early life experiences. Many don’t have the secure emotional attachments that we all need, and as a result they may have disorganization in the lower brain regions, which prohibits healthy brain development. This can lead to dysregulation and chronic behavioral, social, and academic issues.”
She adds, “To develop and strengthen cognition in all children, including those who have experienced trauma, we must address their level of brain development. Implementing sensory and motor system strategies for emotion regulation as part of our daily routines and transitions in early childhood provides an opportunity for sustainable healthy changes when the brain is malleable and more adaptable to experiences and environmental structures.”
She then offers 5 basic strategies that she is using to begin the day with these children. Here is her article as published in Edutopia:
For older students Lakeside’s Neurologic Initiative provides training and support to teachers and students to help this regulation process through brain-based techniques and activities. There is live or on-line training along with coaching and materials that can be purchased. In order to view all the tools Lakeside’s Neurologic Initiative provides, please visit our website at lakesidelink.com.
As we begin another school year we as educators can create calm environments, enjoy our students and help them learn more effectively. These tools and strategies can be a major determinant in how well our students achieve success in their school days!