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My Child Struggles To ‘Do’ School - Understand Why and What You Can Do

Sep 26, 2021

I’ve gotten so frustrated over the years, when my student just could not do this thing we call, “school”. And not to any fault of their own. But, what do you do when a student hides themselves in the coats near the cubbies and doesn’t come out? What do you do when a child refuses to go to recess and the whole class is ready to go. It feels like we don’t have the time in our day to really help support students in their moment of ‘mini crisis’. But, it happens, as a teacher, I felt at a loss for what to do, and early on as an administrator, at times, I felt at a loss of what to do.

When I came across Heather Forbes book, “Help for Billy.” My eyes were opened to what a child might really be going through. She interviewed kids. They told her what they liked about their teacher, and what made them feel uncomfortable at times.

Heather shares in this interview a variety of ideas around helping our kids when they struggle, at times or frequently to do this thing we call 'school'.

Heather Forbes, LCSW is one of the nation’s leading experts in the world of Trauma-Informed Education. Heather has worked for over 20 years helping to educate both teachers and parents in the area of using a trauma-informed approach to help student’s academic and behavioral health. 

Heather’s work stems from her own experiences after adopting two children from Russia. 

“School environments are designed for children who have their natural love for learning intact and for children whose systems are hardwired to be able to sit in a classroom and stay focused. But when a child comes along who does not fit this description, we have continued to EXPECT this child to change and to fit into this predetermined mold, no matter how much he or she is unable.” - Heather helps us unpack with this happens and what parents and educators can do.

Heather helps us understand how we keep “high expectations for our kids” and yet help them when they display challenging behaviors. 

“The amount of pressure students are asked to handle in academic environments frequently goes far beyond what their nervous systems are equipped to handle. Staying at this heightened level of stress diminishes their abilities to self-regulate and their abilities to learn.” - Heather Forbes

We talk in this interview about motivation, and Heather likes to exchange that word for ‘inspiration’. How are we inspiring our kids to learn? And if kids are inspired to learn, they put forth the motivation to learn.

To learn more about Heather and her work, check out her website.


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