A proactive school.

Tom is currently in reception, when he started things seemed to go well, he engaged with staff and made friends but unfortunately this hasn’t lasted. His teacher was well aware of the difficulties we have at home and how his presentation at school was different and was aware from the beginning that things may change once he truly settled at school.

Well, things changed once he settled.

Within the first week after Easter the teacher took me to one side and said “he’s struggling and his behaviour has deteriorated.” I made a passing comment of settling post-holiday but she felt it wasn’t that and it was something bigger, she was going to keep an extra eye on him and look at why he was struggling, I was amazed and encouraged she’d put so much thought into it. 

Roll on a few days later and his teacher has spoken to the SENCO and they feel his behaviour is due to his sensory and attachment issues which are more apparent now he’s had time to settle into school and feels more confident expressing his thoughts and emotions. They offered him a place in the nurture group, this is a group for a maximum of 10 pupils from reception, year 1 & 2 with 3 specialist staff. They spend the morning in this group and return to their class for play times, lunch and special occasions. It is amazing!

I met with the SENCO, who I’ve met several times, she went through how the focus is taken from a Boxhall assessment and they work towards an achievable goal specific to each child each week e.g. “I will walk not run in the school”, I could hear in her voice the passion she had for these children to feel like they are achieving and the focus on social skills and being part of a classroom. They also do their numeracy and literacy there. The success they have sounds great, typically children spend 3 terms there and spend another term reintegrating into the main classroom but they are welcome to come back anytime until they leave the school in year 6, she told me how with one child, who had a really disruptive background, she was his main constant and each week he come to her for a hug, this was really important in helping him manage at school so she made space for him each week all the way through his time there.

Tom has been there a few weeks now and he loves it, he has time to move and learn in an environment suited to him (lots of sensory toys), as a result he is much more regulated after school and we have more time to enjoy together. The afternoons when he is back with his normal class are still really hard and we are still trying to find ways to support him in the classroom but it really feels like the school are including us in their thoughts and concerns and putting Tom first.

The other area in which school have been amazing is their parent group. Once a week I have been going into school with some other parents (mostly parents who have children in the nurture group) and a trainer from the local college runs through how to support your child with reading, writing, listening, behaviour management (more sharing of strategies) and helping our children identify their feelings and emotions (the face / emotion turner in the picture was a recent big hit), the children then join us for the last 30 minutes to do a craft activity around what we’ve been learning. It’s been great to meet other parents and discuss basic things and ask silly questions, I look forward to these sessions and spending time in school learning with Tom. 

School is still hard put I feel we are very blessed to have picked this school and are very greatful to the amazing staff whom I know look out for my son each day. 

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Starting school.

 

So we have completed our second week of school and I wanted to share a few things about how we got on.

The first day:

In my dreams hubby would have had the day off and we would have taken photos etc. but we knew that would just make it really hard for Tom to leave us so we made as little fuss as possible and hubby went to work as usual.

On the Sunday we did our last drive past the school and talked through what was going to happen, he was nervous but excited. He went to sleep the same as any other day.

On the Monday we got dressed and went with minimal fuss (except the parking). It was easier than I thought, he just took it in his stride. 

When I picked him up at lunch all he talked about was the mash potato, he didn’t seem fazed by this significant change. While I was waiting to pick him up the head teacher popped out to say hello (they all seem to know who we are, maybe they heard about all the prep I tried to do for the teachers and thought it best to play nice). The head teacher was lovely, she asked questions about how we were feeling and gave some good advice- the kids do really well the first week or so and then they start to struggle when they realise school is a long term thing. It was great that she acknowledged this and gave me hope for when we do have our expected wobble. 

School achievements:

Now this heading sounds silly but here are some highlights from his first 2 weeks.

1. The teacher said he plays well with other children and likes asking them questions, they were very impressed with this as other children apparently don’t ask many questions of their friends; we did give him a question to help him talk to other children “I’m Tom, what’s your name?”, however this has transpired as “I’m 4, who are you?” but it seems to work for him. Previously the feedback was always that he didn’t know how to interact with other children or play together so this is huge for us! They even said he seems more socially advanced than most of the other children (I’m proud).

2. He has managed to play without adult prompting during play time. Again a massive step, we expected play time to be impossible but he’s just got on with it (I watched through the gate one lunch time).

3. He has shown empathy! Most of you will understand this is amazing. The teacher sent me a text about it saying this “well done to Tom who showed what a kind friend he is today by looking after an injured child. We are very proud of you”. (The school do lots of communication by text). Apparently another boy really hurt his face and Tom was very caring. I was so pleased to see yet another massive area of growth and especially pleased that his teacher (knowing the problems he has) took time out during her day to text me. He has never shown that level of empathy before, again I’m really proud.

So in summary my boy is amazing and school seem to love him and he’s settled amazingly well.

The difficult bits.

So all is great then…… I wish, he has sensory and attachment issues so despite school being great, home is worse.

He isn’t sleeping great, he was up 7 times Thursday night with nightmares and has been clingy on and off. 

He’s been aggressive when we try and get him ready for bed and fighting us to stay up saying he wants to be with us (heart-breaking).

He’s been getting home and is clearly hyper stimulated and literally bouncing off the walls and trying to hurt me (sadly I have been on the end of more violence again). I have started doing an hour of sensory regulation as soon as he gets home and this has helped the last few days, but is hard work especially with his brother around.

We are still mixing full days and half days trying to build up to a full week soon and I’m working on my range of sensory regulation tools to help with the come down after school.

I am hopeful for the future, the school are responsive and we are seeing huge improvements in his behaviour generally. I feel if we can get the regulation right at home we might just get through the next 13 years of school.

All about Bear.


Slightly different post this week. It is all about Bear (above) and the trauma associated with soft toys!

Attachment is a word we hear a lot about, primarily we think of it with regards to people and parenting, however for children who have been adopted and / or in foster care a soft toy or something similar can provide comfort in a changing world and they form many different sorts of attachments.

Bear is the love of James’ (1) life. He has had him since he was born and will not sleep without him, Bear needs to be within 2 inches of his face or he wakes up! When James is upset he cries for Bear. Bear is so precious he doesn’t leave the house.

Bear has been chewed a lot (good for teething) and his nose has had a few repairs however this week the nose had to come off as it was at risk of being a choking hazard.

I took off Bear’s hard stud nose and replaced it with a fabric one (took me over an hour as Bear’s fabric had been chewed too much).


Now I think I did a good job on the nose, it looks like the original and is at the same weird slant, but it’s different.

I gave James back Bear, he chewed the nose, it didn’t feel right. He then threw Bear across the room (much to the shock of his brother). He then spent the rest of the evening pointing to his nose then Bear’s. He just sat there distraught and confused at how his most precious thing was different.

Watching this acute trauma reaction was heart breaking. I would go so far as to say Bear is one of his main attachments and seeing this little boy deep in thought about the changes was so sad.

His elder brother (Tom -4) was also upset to see his brother not playing with his precious bear and decided to help them re-attach! Tom spent lots of time sat next to James cuddling and stroking Bear, talking and signing to him in the way James does. This was beautiful to watch. Eventually James went to bed with Bear and seems to be learning to love him again, though he still touches the nose with real sadness on his face.

It was horrible watching the distress but beautiful to watch Tom’s reaction and understanding of his brother’s needs. (If he hadn’t been able to cuddle Bear by the time he went to bed he wouldn’t have slept, as we know from washing day).

Seeing how they now play together and respond to each other is lovely, something I didn’t think we would see at one point, let’s hope it continues and Bear remains in one piece.