In 2013 we made the big decision to change schools. At the end of my son’s first year in his new school I wrote this letter below. A teacher that gets your highly sensitive child really can make or break a school year for a child – and ultimately you. I have experienced first hand the huge difference a teacher can make to a HSC’s self esteem, confidence and outlook.
Of course, I wish my son had not had to go through two years of not being understood – but it’s worth remembering that things can change in a heartbeat…….
Dear juf L & juf C,
“It’s your problem at home, solve it there, we have no issues in school.” That’s what we heard a year ago from our son’s teachers when we talked about the negative impact of the school environment overloading our highly sensitive boy.
Last September our son started in a new school, in a new class – in your class. “What happens at home is relevant for school and vice versa. Of course it’s relevant how he behaves at home after a day at school. We want to help, we need to work together,” you said.
And that is what you have spent the last school year doing: supporting, brainstorming, helping, nurturing and making sure Mr S not only learned to read, write and do sums, but also how to feel more comfortable in his own skin. You’ve spent the last eleven months helping him recognise his own emotions, showing him tools he can use to deal with his moments of overload in the classroom.
You have never once made me feel like I’m crazy, over protective or unable to cope – all the things I was made to feel a year ago by my son’s teachers.
You’ve taught us all this last school year that a child goes to school for so many more reasons than to read and write. Done right school nurtures a child, the whole child, not just the part that shows up in the CITO results.
In the space of one short school year you took an unsure six year old, wary of a new school, of a new classroom, new classmates and a new teacher, held his hand and within weeks showed him just how comfortable he can feel in his own skin, when he’s allowed to be himself, allowed to be authentic.
You showed him he could put his trust in you, tell you how he’s feeling without fear of flippancy or mockery. Yes he could read and write by Christmas with your guidance, and the sums he can do get harder every week but he’s also grown emotionally. He has much more of a grip on his sensitivities.
Raising a child takes teamwork and we’re thankful that you’ve been a major part of our team this school year.
Teaching a highly sensitive child takes patience, understanding, empathy and an ability to peel the layers of a child away to see the real reason for a fear that seems irrational to the outside world, to understand an outburst that seems to come from nowhere, to mop up tears that fall without warning. And you’ve done just that. You’ve seen beyond the barriers, beyond the facades that a HSC is adept at putting up. On so many occasions he’s come home smiling, full of the fun he’s had, proud of the fact that his bucket is empty, or almost empty, proud that he worked with you to stop his bucket spilling over.
Of course it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, but when it’s got tough, when it’s gone wrong, you have been an ally. You’ve put no extra hurdle in our way, you’ve stood on Mr S’s side all the way. It’s made a difference to our home life. You’ve made a difference to life over the last eleven months.
The van Mulligen family.