If you read my last post, (http://wp.me/p28KkX-2P) you’ll need to go back and read the comment from my dear friend before you read this post. She raises some very important points and this is my reply.
School needs to be a safe place
Absolutely. Every child has the right to feel safe at school. I would never, ever suggest that any child has any responsibility whatsoever to ‘deal’ with violence or bullying or having their belongings destroyed. Sometimes it does work for ‘good’ kids to act as a buddy to one who is struggling, but only in consultation with that child’s parent and only if that child has the internal resilience to cope with that role.
Mumma Bear eyes
My kids are young. Under school age. I have not dealt with this stuff on a very personal level yet. If it were my son being targeted, or witnessing violent outbursts, I’m thinking I’ll be digging my pitchfork out of the garage. That mother love I am sure will dampen down any well intentioned political correctness. As a protective parent (like Gwennie), my job is to protect my children and I’ll do that with every last breath. When it comes to my kids, it’s my job to be their Mum, not to do my other job.
I wonder if the school environment is the best place to be
It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that we started to change the way we thought about people with disabilities and their right to access education in a mainstream environment. We built ramps, Special Education Units, changed the curriculum, educated ourselves about disabilities and changed our teaching strategies. We don’t worry nowadays that our kids will be ‘exposed’ to ‘those kids’, and our kids know that the world is filled with different people who can do different things in different ways. Those kids are not hidden away and the sun kept on rising and setting. It’s not always successful but we have a legal and ethical obligation to provide the best opportunity for children with disabilities to do what all the other kids their age are doing. All children have the right to education, but sometimes the school environment is not right for them at that time, so we have the option of Special Schools.
I look forward to the day when we think about behaviour in the same way. When kids with behaviour support needs have their emotional ramp and are not isolated even more than they already are. How? If I had a tidy answer to that I’d be getting paid a lot more than I currently am. I am only one person with only a few ideas. I need the whole village to be in on this. For what it’s worth, here are the ideas I’m currently working on.
Teach protective behaviours, resilience and empathy
There is so much out there that can help. From recognising signs of stress in your own body, to practicing talking about things, to understanding other cultures. Talking about friendships and role playing problems in friendships is a great way of teaching social problem solving to your kids. Just google ‘protective behaviours’ as a start. This kind of teaching can help the ‘good’ kids understand and cope with experiencing the world as it is, confronting and different.
We had a new boy in our centre today. I had the same reaction I have every time. Wanted to give him a cuddle (but didn’t). In a week’s time, he may well be throwing furniture, using truck driver level language and twitching at the corner of the mouth, but today was honeymoon day. He was lovely. And out there somewhere is probably a Mumma Bear with her pitchfork wanting the kid OUT. And all power to her, as Mumma Bear, that’s her job. But this kid may or may not have a Mumma Bear with the inner strength, loving energy and confidence that you have Mrs Gwenie. So he needs, and has the right, to have someone else fight for him to be understood.