Friday, December 9, 2011

Preparing Children For Change

It has been a tough year for a few of the children in my class. They have weathered some storms within their lives and it serves to remind me of how fragile our students can be.

They, too, can have a bad day. They can come to school, just like we do sometimes, crushed beneath the weight of 'stuff' going on in their lives. They come for distraction sometimes. They come sad, angry, frustrated, tired, disappointed with the adults in their lives, upset with siblings, mad at the cards they are dealt, hungry or hurt. Children carry their baggage in different ways and they demonstrate their frustration or anger in different ways too.

The best thing that I have found for dealing with this and helping them to deal with it, is to listen. Many times, all a child needs is to feel that someone, anyone, is listening to them. Sometimes we have to ask the right questions or be available at the right moment. Sometimes we have to help to find the right adult for them to talk to or the right friend to share with. But listening is the first and best thing to do in all cases.

One of the special needs children in my class this year, needs some reassurance this week as we approach the end of year. He knows that his time as a student in my class has almost ended and he is already worrying about the new changes for him next year. I am so fortunate to work in a school where the security and care of the students is the most important thing to everyone. My leader is going to take my student down to meet his new teacher while the current class are in there. She will introduce him, show him around, talk through his worries with him and LISTEN. How do I know that she will do this? Because that's what she did for him last year when he came to meet me. And the year before that, and the one before that.

The way that we prepare all of our students for next year, is to 'meet their teacher' in the last week of school. It is lovely to spend half an hour with your new class for the following year. We get to show the students around their new room, have them meet their new class and see which of their friends they have with them. It is amazing how well this serves to settle the nerves of the students! As for their first day at school next year - well, they simply walk into their classroom confidently knowing where they are going, who they are with and who their teacher is! My special needs student will have already met his teacher and seen his new classroom when he then joins his peers to go to the room together, ensuring that he will be much happier with the new changes.

Preparing children for change is a huge responsibility. We hold power in our words - the power to encourage and reassure, or the power to create stress and fear if we don't get it right.

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