I am rarely able to link my posts with the WASO theme, so this week I was really surprised that I could write about unexpected support.
Child 4 has been accepted into our local school and I have started planning for his school entrance plan. Oh but how to do this in a positive and constructive way. The older three have attended the school, child 3 will moving into year 6 in September and I am a school governor, so I am well known by the staff. I have always been pretty relaxed with the relationships I have had with the school and have been, for the most part, really happy with how my children have been educated and looked after during their time there.
However, I have always felt that the school have struggled with accepting that child 4 could potentially come with a interesting set of needs. I have lost count of the times when I have tried to talk to them their response has been, "he'll be fine" "he has you now everything will be ok" or "he is a very lucky boy" Everyone of these responses worry me as they all completely ignore the effect that his early life may have had on him. That some how we as a family have some magic wand to wave that will just make everything better.
So, I really don't want to alienate the staff by stomping in with a list of demands or make them feel that I don't trust them to be able to educate him.
With some persuasion I pushed the school into having attachment training, this started very gradually with the teacher and teaching assistants in class 1 first attending a course and then due to their raving about how good it was, a morning session was included in an inservice day for all the staff.
I was amazed and over the moon, when the head on the way back from an academies training session this week, asked about what I thought about the attachment training, I explained that for me it was a pretty basic course, just giving a flavour of attachment but didn't really give specific ways to help, she agreed and asked if I knew of anything else the staff could do. Well, of course I could and emailed her the next day with loads of information (some of which I know I had sent before, but hey sometimes slowly, slowly works)
Our school entrance planning meeting has been set for the first week after half term, the class teacher, the SenCo and child 4's key worker from the nursery will meet with us to discuss his needs. This is brilliant, the nursery are amazing with child 4, they are pro-active in how they avoid melt downs, they have picked up that there are a couple of boys in his peer group who instigate situations and sit back to watch the fall out. The staff now watch for this and deal directly with the instigator, child 4 is often completely unaware of this. The nursery staff don't want any stigma attached to child 4, so they intend coming armed with all their advice to ensure transition goes well and that the school are very aware of how to handle child 4 pro-actively.
Then, I read Al Coates' blog, the bit that really struck me was the reminder that adopted children have "motivated and articulate parents to advocate for them and support them throughout their school lives"* parents like myself who read up on everything to do with attachment, behaviour and all types of support. And not only that, everything that we share "is an opportunity to highlight good practice and broadcast it to new audiences"* which means that when we as adoptive parents share good behaviour support it can affect so many other children that don't have parents in their corner supporting them.
* * http://www.alcoates.co.uk/2016/04/behaviour-management-review.html
So my opening gambit is going to be that my gorgeous, spirited little boy is going to be joining the school and to ensure that he grows into the man he can be, he will need help with being scared, frustrated or out of his element. But, do you know what, he is going to be fine because we will help everyone to recognise the signs of struggling so that they can pro-actively support him, and on those days that being pro-active doesn't work we will just have some quiet calm down time and start again tomorrow.
Thanks to everyone who is there at the end of the phone, everyone who shares a gin and tonic or a bottle of prosecco with me, the head teacher who I think is beginning to get it and Al Coates for giving me the ok to go in to school to share my knowledge.