Concord, NH: "Problems at home follow children into the classroom and disrupt learning"

Oct 29, 2017, Concord (NH) Monitor: N.H. educators are getting a crash course in trauma Educators have long known that problems at home follow children into the classroom and disrupt learning. And with a raging opioid crisis and a shrinking middle class, schools have pivoted to adapt – in some cases stocking food pantries, offering substance-abuse counseling, or helping families apply for assistance. Area schools are increasingly looking to research on trauma and toxic stress to better understand the impact such instability is having on students – and what they can do about it. Early childhood trauma disrupts neurodevelopment, making it harder for kids to self-regulate. That manifests itself in things like impulsiveness, aggressiveness and irritability. A big part of taking a trauma-informed approach is identifying those behaviors not as willful misbehavior, but instead as a symptom of need.... It’s hard to put numbers on the scope of the problem in New Hampshire. Schools are loath to survey students and families about something as sensitive as a child’s potential trauma profile. But administrators point to a series of related indicators – more kids on special education plans, the recession and the opioid epidemic – as evidence that more children are leading much more difficult lives.... “Classrooms look different now than they did 30 years ago,” said Laurie Ekberg, a social worker at Weare Middle School. “We have teachers that have taught for a long time, but these are the teachers that realize these aren’t the same students.” “A divorce can be a trauma, depending on how it’s handled, the kid, and how the kid perceives it,” she said. “Trauma is defined by the effects it has on the individual rather than what the actual event may have been.”...

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