My adopted child has started secondary school. We have completed our first term. It’s been a huge transition for both of us, a steep learning curve. This is what I have learned, so far.
Phones, trainers & trauma: my adopted child has started secondary school
I had to learn to let go, it’s time for us both to grow up
This really has been a lesson in learning to let go.
My adopted child is having to learn to take responsibility for his actions.
Forgotten PE kit, homework handed in late, can’t find the homework club, I’m no longer around to sort these little crises out. It’s down him.
Yes, we have struggled, and we still struggle.
Rules, rules, rules
Secondary school is really strict
The length of the tie, style of shoes (the ones I bought in the school section of M&S were too much like trainers), cannot be late, ever – no matter what, rules, rules, just so many rules.
Our anxiety levels are rocketing (mine and his!).
But these behaviour modification tools don’t work for children whose lives are affected by trauma, neglect abuse.
It’s hard to get a secondary school to think around this. But I am trying.
Detentions dished out for everything and anything
And when above-said rules are broken, they dish out detentions.
At times it seems like by the dozen!
Secondary school is stressful! OK, I am sounding flippant, but this is serious. Throwing out a detention, without an explanation, or thinking if this is the right intervention for a traumatised child is achieving nothing.
Don’t expect to see a miraculous turnaround in behaviour. In fact, expect it to get worse, as my child’s spirit, self-esteem, passion for learning is slowly crushed.
But, we’re starting to find that praise, telling my child what they have done well, can turn things around.
Praise, it can achieve so much and costs nothing.
Finding an ally has really helped
There’s a glimmer of hope
There’s an amazing Looked After Child Coordinator at the school.
She gets trauma, attachment and adoption. And for that, I am thankful.
She may be a lone voice against a wall of education bureaucrats and grade counters but she is giving us hope.
Though we have an ally, there are still issues
Put it this way. My kid is probably the most ‘liveliest’ in the class.
They say disruptive, I say insecure attachments.
We are having a lot of conversations about trauma, dysregulation and anxiety in the classroom.
But he’s getting a timeout a card, to help manage his classroom anxiety, and will be seated at the back, towards the middle of the class, to ease his hypervigilance.
I’m finding it hard not having close contact with the school
I am no longer there to pick him up at the end of the day or to scoop the pieces after a bad day. He is having to manage his teachers.
But I am in the background fighting his corner.
I’m getting used to his digital life
Hang on, you mean I don’t get to meet his friends’ parents?
No more quick chats in the playground. No more organising play dates. He’s in full charge of his social life.
And that phone is his social life
That phone has been surgically implanted into the palm of his hand. All his friends are contained within it.
Sorry dude, no Insta or Snapchat, yet
I am not comfortable with letting my child out in the wild west of the social media world.
He think’s he’s ready, but I’m not. I don’t care what his friends do.
He is learning to cope in this big new world.
It’s a tough world out there.
Secondary school is the start of him navigating his way through this big new world.
Trainers and girls
Don’t mention Justin Bieber
Or Bruno Mars because, Mum, it’s all about rap and grime.And it’s all about the brands.
Next, to the phone, the next most prized possession is his Nike Air Jordans. (He paid for these out of his birthday money.)
And out there, girls are hovering on the horizon
He may think he’s some super cool dude
But he is still my baby boy.
Are you choosing a secondary school for your adopted child?
It is a daunting prospect. So much harder than primary school.
I will be catching up with Cherry Newby, adopter, former primary school headteacher and education blogger to talk about picking a secondary school for your adopted child.
If you have any questions for Cherry on how to choose a secondary school for your adopted child, pop your questions in the comments and we’ll answer them in a forthcoming blog post.
Photo credit: JE Shoots
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