Students require a sense of security to do their best at school. After all, it’s impossible to concentrate when you’re consumed by fear and anxiety. Pressing needs, like hunger or pain, can outweigh learning objectives.
Most children are safe at school. Their primary needs are met. They have adult supervision. Security measures are in place. We could list all of the ways that our amazing educators ensure that our schools are physically and emotionally safe places… but actually FEELING safe and secure is different. It’s an internal state of mind that may or may not be a reflection of your environment.
So what builds a child’s comfort level? Here are three factors that can promote a sense of security:
Clear and consistent routines let kids know what to expect. And when they know what to expect, their hyper vigilant minds can relax. We tend to think of consistency in terms of schedules. However, stability can be built into the classroom and home in many other ways such as using uniform lesson formats or structuring social interactions. We can also measure our responses to a child’s behaviors. When we can maintain consistent reactions, it is a big help to kids operating from a background of trauma.
We can aid the feeling of security by establishing consistency, but we can’t totally eliminate challenging days. It is impossible to anticipate or avoid all possible triggers (like lock down drills or tests!). So we must give kids the opportunity to find calm. Ideally, they can retreat to a quiet place like a bedroom or a counselor’s office. In the smaller moments, though, encourage journaling, fidgeting with sensory toys, or a water break. When kids find calm, you have an opening for encouraging words and a chance to model positive coping skills.
In order for a Court Appointed Special Advocate (aka, CASA) to speak up for a child’s best interest in court, they have to first get to know the child. A great way to connect with a child is at school. CASA volunteers often visit students in the school building, learning about their strengths and interests. Research shows that children with CASAs tend to have better outcomes at school in a wide range of areas such as academic performance, increased self control and positive social interactions. Overtime, CASA’s presence in the child’s life offers the consistency and calm they need.
You can use your voice to be a consistent and calm presence in a child’s life. Learn more about volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate with Henrico CASA.