Emma’s Fostering Blog. Achieve
Why are some ‘Looked After’ children not motivated to learn, we need to understand why! The children we work with have more health difficulties than their peers, and their emotional and mental welfare is particularly at risk. There is this stigma from people who tend to think that educational or behavioural problems are because of a child’s ‘in care’ status. We need to be identifying individual needs and putting appropriate support in place. Improvements in the support services available to ‘Looked After’
Children have been seriously undermined by structural factors within the education system.
Sarah was 9 and very small and underweight for her age, at School she had difficulty concentrating and learning, and was very disruptive. Sarah came into care because of neglect and sexual abuse by two older brothers. She had been unable to explain the pain she was feeling but I knew inside she was a volcano ready to erupt. It took time a long time before Sarah settled and began to trust us; she pushed all the boundaries and tested us to the hilt. It wasn’t easy living with her, there was the hypervigilance; she never felt safe, she didn’t like any emotional warmth and really worried about food. At School there were many learning and behavioural issues we had to deal with. Sarah was having School dinners but she was also taking food from children’s lunch boxes, and at home she took food and hid it. By offering food more frequently than usual, Sarah started to trust us and soon became less anxious as it was available when she needed it.
I had to find interests for Sarah because she hadn’t had many opportunities, she couldn’t say what she liked and I needed to build her self-esteem, look at what she was good at and make it happen. I liked gardening and eventually encouraged her to help and she actually started to enjoy doing this with me. Together we made her own patch where she planted things, looked after them and watched them grow. This was perfect for both of us, we had quality time together, and it defiantly helped her as the angry episodes we were experiencing with her seemed less now.
Sarah needed to experience adults that cared about her; she needed time to heal and by us providing a safety net, by introducing new things. We championed her learning by having excellent communication with her School, working as a team around the behaviours. The teacher made a sincere effort to know our family and make a genuine connection, and the rest fell into place as she went on to be successful in many things, including education.
My thoughts are each child is unique and their learning styles are different, if you can break the cycle, there is then great potential for children to grow up in a different way, making good decisions, hold down jobs and have successful relationships.
Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!