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Jasper, IN: Schools now have "calming corners" in classrooms for traumatized kids

Oct 22, 2018, Jasper, IN, Dubois County Herald: Care program aims to help students de-stress When students returned to class at Fifth Street School in August, they found small additions to their classrooms: calming corners. The corners offer students a place to go sit for a couple minutes when school gets overwhelming. Inside the corners are pinwheels to encourage deep breathing, Etch A Sketches so the children can draw and books. There’s also a timer the children set for two to three minutes so they know when to go back to their desks. The corners are part of Fifth Street’s trauma informed care program, a new addition to the school that focuses on giving students the tools they need to deal with stress, particularly stress brought to school from home. … Trauma informed care is based on recent research that shows trauma in childhood — being a victim of or witnessing domestic violence, living in poverty, experiencing a divorce or death in early childhood or even having two parents working, to name a few examples — changes how a child’s brain develops. Those effects make a child more susceptible to at-risk behaviors, such as substance abuse, social problems and early death. The research has also shown that the effects hinder learning and make children ill-equipped to deal with the stresses of being in the classroom, particularly as greater emphasis is placed on testing, according to “Why Schools Need to Be Trauma Informed,” an article by Barbara Oehlberg, a child development and educational specialist and child trauma consultant…. It works like this: Fear experienced in early childhood is recorded in the brain’s limbic system without context, causing over-sensitized fear reactions in the children later in life that materializes as behavioral issues. Those fear reactions can be triggered by anything, depending on the child. A stern look from a teacher, for example, could be a trigger for a student who dealt with angry caregivers in early childhood. .. Staff members at Dubois Middle School have also started implementing trauma informed care. Like at Fifth Street, DMS students are learning about the “downstairs” and “upstairs” (learning) brains so they can communicate what they’re feeling with staff members. The focus at DMS this year, however, has been on staff forming stronger relationships with students and learning about trauma informed care. …


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