By the time my adopted daughter was eight she had been excluded from three schools for “aggressive” behaviour and left another before it came to blows yet again. I decided in the end, that as I was no longer able to work due to constant care, we would be better off learning from life, family and friends.
I wrote an article for a national newspaper about attachment difficulties in adoption, it was around the time the Labour Government were talking about adoption reform and theories around attachment and trauma were even less communicated about back then.
With the money I earned from the article we bought a shed and made our own school at the bottom of the garden. It had a table and chairs, toys, books and learning posters on the wall donated by Granny and Grandad.
My daughter loved it… we mainly played as her attention span for sitting still was around ten minutes. Favourites were shopping, modelling dough, cooking and of course, playing out the care of babies.
It was difficult for me as I felt a level of responsibility that at the time I could have done without. Just trying to be a good enough therapeutic mother 24/7 was a challenge enough! However, the lowering of the huge anxiety that school attendance had bought about, meant less challenging behaviour at home and we were generally much happier.
As a result of no school attendance my daughter missed out on a peer group and it made me feel sad. Knowing that she was missing out on………… well mainly birthday parties and being chosen for the school play or sports team, which I knew she would have loved. (have to say though that it still makes me laugh inside to recall the nervous faces of the teachers who did have any nativity play experiences with her. And the horror at “the poo” in the book box… her revenge for exclusion from swimming for “naughty” behaviour!)
On a sad day I looked up “Peer” in the dictionary and it said:
“a person who is equal in social standing”
My daughter could not be equal in social standing at school as her experience of life was so very different and not one that could be easily explained nor understood by another child, let alone teachers. Knowing the idea of peers was a tricky and elusive one for her I concentrated on enabling her to have a couple of good friends who remain loyal and loving to this day.
After home teaching for a while we made a very big and quite scary move and rented a house in a very rural spot. I felt it was the right thing though and we have been here ever since. Ironically it was whilst here that we received the most wonderful Outreach teacher from the local team. Louise was our teaching angel. She listened and understood and saw the virtues of quiet time or trampolining as much as that of spelling correctly or doing fractions.
She taught my daughter ten hours a week and being at home made it easier for her to relax and learn. It also gave me ten hours a week to recharge my batteries, call a friend, read a book. Educate myself.
When I asked her this week what song makes her think of school, she said, by singing the lyrics at me with a grin on her face “we don’t need no education”.
Well I think we do. I think the teachers who are at a loss need it. I think social workers need it and I think the Government needs it.
Children with attachment and trauma issues need more understanding and support. Teachers need the tools to make a difference.
It’s not rocket science!!… because that would be a much more complicated subject to explain……… and you would need specialist scientists…….. and its not nearly so important………..