Treating the Whole Child

Treating the Whole Child

What Teachers Don’t Always See

A student brings their whole life with them to the classroom, even when their teachers don’t see it. Perhaps the child was abused the night before, or their grandparent was hospitalized, or their father checked into a rehab. Non-academic issues such as mental illness and childhood trauma can have a profound impact on learning. When educators understand and empathize with children, they can help them achieve success beyond memorization or traditional book learning. They can help them become resilient.  

Adverse Childhood Experiences: More Common Than You Think

The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) Study measures 10 forms of childhood trauma. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a parent who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as a point on the ACE score. Two thirds of the 17,000 people screened in the study had experienced at least one form of trauma. Of those, 87% had experienced at least two. It’s no wonder so many children have trouble focusing on their academic goals.

How School Can Help

Students with trauma in their background need compassion, flexibility, and encouragement. While some students prefer the structure of a traditional classroom setting when they are under stress, others thrive on hands-on career and tech training– or maybe some of each. Some students need a full-time school schedule, while others require a work study program so they can support themselves and their families. Whatever the child’s needs, they deserve personalized learning through teachers who will invest in getting to know them while also giving them the time and space they need to work through their personal challenges.

ACCA believes in educating the whole child rather than focusing only on academic standards. We deliver trauma-informed care to our students, taking their whole backgrounds, not just their grades and test scores, into account. Our small class sizes enable teachers to form personal relationships with students, giving them the positive adult role models they need. We also encourage our students to participate in art, music, exercise, student council, and community service, activities that help alleviate depression, build self esteem, and develop skills for the future.

Find out how to teach your whole child, and teach your child for life. Learn more about how your child can learn at ACCA.

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