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Are children ‘not coping’… or are we not coping with the child?

I got stuck in the scroll-hole recently and landed on this infographic about children who doodle, fidget and daydream, calling on schools to  ‘do better’ at recognising the signs that a child isn’t coping with their environment. 

I don’t doubt that many young people need more than they get, but in my experience, identifying such difficulties; any kind of unmet need in fact; is seldom as simple as ‘do better’, and the problem isn’t just ‘schools’.

Even as you read this blog, 11,000,000 pieces of information for second are passing through your own brain, meaning there are infinite ways for any of our brains to process and respond to its environment, whenever and wherever they are…

And that’s before we consider the various issues which directly impact how brains function; ASD, ADHD, sensory processing, ACE’s, trauma, or the very common -albeit largely unrecognised problem of ‘retained reflexes’

Children are born with 86 billion brain cells for a reason; they’ll learn whether they go to school or not. If they didn’t, they’d never develop beyond babyhood.

But it’s easy to overlook what natural little learning machines children are, because the environment they’re in just isn’t conducive to how many of them learn at their best. Instead, fidgeting and doodling, etc., are seen as distractions from learning when, for most of these young people, it’s just about adapting; it’s the only way they can learn right then.

Why aren’t schools granted with enough trust or freedom to deviate from the standard expectation that says young people should all respond to the learning environment in the same, pre-determined way; to recognise that some approaches just don’t work for ever child, and offer alternatives that do?

For too many, ‘not coping’ has to become so disruptive; for the child, their school, possibly for their family; that it’s only with intervention or specialist assessment that what they need is recognised.

It doesn’t have to get that bad though, for anyone, does it???
Amen to those settings -and there are growing numbers of them – that are tuning in to those fidgeting, distracted children; how they learn, engage, behave etc., and being led by them.

I visited the most trauma-informed, child-centred school I’ve ever encountered last week, where even the most vulnerable children were soaring, simply because the school worked on listening, really listening, to their learners.
And in return, those learners were teaching the school buckets about what they needed. The school was meeting the needs of the children, not the other way round.

But nearly as recently, my heart broke for a child repeatedly being excluded in a different school, because of his destructive and challenging behaviour.
The fact that he had a marked trauma history changed nothing, nor that he engaged incredibly well with outdoor learning. Adjustments weren’t made because he couldn’t be ‘treated differently’.
How self-defeating, for everyone…

Children may not communicate it very articulately, but; whatever the setting; most can let us know how they develop and grow at their best. And when we work with-not against- that, we give them, and ourselves, the best chance of ‘success’. So why wouldn’t we?

How can the young people you support be your teacher?… 🤔

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