While we would always hope that when a parent, or child, needs help they would feel confident enough to ask for it, 9 times out of 10 this just doesn’t happen. This is just a little post about how important it is to trust your instincts as a teacher, it shows just how much impact a quick chat with mum and dad can make.
Tom came into school one Monday and I could tell something wasn’t right. At first I thought he was unwell as he seemed tired and lethargic. I took him to first aid, although he said he felt fine. Nothing seemed to be wrong physically but I just knew there was more to the situation. I spoke to the class teacher who said she’d had the same feeling and would talk to mum at hometime.
A few days later it was disclosed to the school that family had been experiencing domestic violence. The school worked with mum to help ensure that she and the children received the best support possible and connected her with other services that could help her. By letting mum know we were worried about Tom, the class teacher helped her to feel that the school was there to support her. This incident will always remind me that if you feel concerned about a change in a child, its always best to say something.
I was in the playground with Inez when she began talking, quite out of the blue, about hospitals. She mentioned that a close relative was badly hurt in hospital but she didn’t seem to understand how serious this was despite giving lots of details. She was also worried that her mum had been crying lots. I let the other adults in the class know, as although the story seemed unusual, the details suggested it was true.
The next day Inez came into school crying and clinging to her mum. Nothing was explained as mum rushed off before we were able to ask her what was wrong. Inez held the door tightly for 15 minutes. Her breath was very unsteady and she wouldn’t explain what had happened.
It turned out that Inez was experiencing grief, something that I had never seen in a child of her age before. When she finally calmed down we went to see a learning mentor, who spent the morning working with her and contacted her parents to find out more about what was going on.
With such a difficult thing happening at home, Inez’s parents were dealing with their own grief and perhaps had not realised her confusion over what had happened. Time with a trusted adult helped her to come to terms with the loss and took some pressure off her parents in a difficult time.
Knowing a child and their behaviour soon gives you a sixth sense for when something is wrong. It never hurts to listen to that sixth sense, and while you may or may not need to take action immediately it is important to keep little incidents in the forefront of your mind. Safeguarding procedures will help you to do this. You can formally log the incident and make sure you tell the relevant people in your school but never feel that something is too small to warrant further observation or investigation.