Back to school season can be incredibly stressful but becomes even more complicated when a child is confronting an adverse life event. Whether it’s divorce, abuse, bullying or even a move to a new home, these events can impact school success.

Experiencing traumatic events is surprisingly common. According to a report by the Center for Healthy Kids and School, 68 percent of children and adolescents experienced at least one potentially traumatic event by age 16, and data suggests that every classroom has at least one student affected by trauma.

Unfortunately, research shows that these adverse life events impact behavior. Children may demonstrate a wide range of symptoms including irritability, aggressiveness and withdrawal. As many of these symptoms can mimic other behavioral diagnosis such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) it’s important that parents inform teachers of what’s happening in their child’s lives to help them better navigate potential school issues.

“Parents don’t need to let teachers know all the details of their family life,” explains Stacey Meadows, manager of child therapy services at Jewish Community Services (JCS), an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. “But by letting teachers know that there may be things going on in a student’s life that could cause he or she to be more irritable or withdrawn, and by providing them with insights into what works at home, it can help teachers be more understanding and respond more effectively to a situation.”

“If something comes up in class, a teacher can be a student’s ally,” adds Shmuel Fischler, director of outreach and advocacy at CHANA. “And if they know that something is going on in the home, they can be responsive when a child may need to take a break, is clingy, acts out, or needs to step out of the classroom if a topic being discussed is distressing.”

Three years ago CHANA partnered with the Magen Yeladim Safety Kid program to address how to protect students from abuse. One component of the program included training teachers and administrators in Jewish day schools on signs of trauma and abuse. Click to read entire article.

The Associated Contributors

The Associated Contributors are writers from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.