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What is the best way to deal with a bereaved child?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Peggle, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. Hi,I have a child in my class who suddenly lost his mother (over a year ago),he came to me in September as one of the highest abilities in the class,but I have found that he is struggling recently,particularly in literacy, with work that my lower abilities are tackling successfully. He seems to be lacking in confidence and motivation,I have spoken to him to let him know I have noticed he is struggling, I know he is capable of the work which is why I'm thinking it may be more to do with ongoing emotional issues. It doesn't help that I am an nqt with an extremely challenging year 4 class and so I don't feel that I am giving him as much attention as he needs to get him back on track,I am also struggling with a large class in a very small room and so don't have the option to move him to a lower ability table (something which I am reluctant to do anyway as I don't think that it is an ability issue). Just wondering if anyone has any advice on how I can help this child to work through his issues and achieve his potential?! I am going to speak to my nqt mentor tomorrow to see if he has had any counselling from learning mentors but if anyone has any experience of this and can offer any advice I would really appreciate it! We have parents evening in November but should I try and speak to dad sooner?! Thanks in advance.
  2. lardylegs

    lardylegs Occasional commenter

    Not sure what support this child is getting outside of school, but I would investigate that first. Get school nurse involved, they can sometimes offer bereavement counselling. Google Winston's Wish, there are a lot of good ideas on that site.

  3. upsadaisy

    upsadaisy New commenter

    At my school children are almost always offered some sort of counselling, your head should know more and be able to help set this up. I would speak to the Dad sooner, as he will be able to also seek help for his son or possibly himself sooner.
  4. I'd def. speak to Dad, but counselling in or out of school and family support are both available easily - usually just a phone call or form away.
    You're local Critical Incident Team will also offer courses for staff. I think these are free too (so just cost the school supply).
    Hope that helps.
  5. As a child who lost her mother at a very young age, I would be furious that you might be considering that loss was the cause of my lack of application/ progress and that you felt you should 'consider' me in any way! And frankly, if I had got wind that you were planning on treating me any differently than any other kid in my class, I would have REALLY made your life difficult!


    I HATED that sort of thing! I hate that teachers should think I was suffering in any way over it.

    In fact, I was bluddy difficult at school but that was not why ... it was because I had other problems and felt no one cared enough to bother. No real friends, to start with, because my dad put me to live with an aunt in a new city, and everyone else had long-standing friendships. Then the fact that living with the aunt made me feel second best in their home as they had their own kids of a similar age. Then t he fact that I had to be 'mother to my little sister', including emptying her potty and dealing with her mssing her pants.Then getting my periods and not feeling I could tell anyone, so having to use wads of loo roll, then the day the head told everyone in assembly that Some Horrible Person had blocked the toilets and the Caretaker had been Disgusted ....

    Maybe it DID affect me more that I wanted to talk about ... and I WOULD have hated to talk about it with a TEACHER!!!!!

    Just be nice and kind and caring and receptive - same as with the other kids!

    No way was my lack of achievement down to grief at my mother dying ... children accept and get over this far faster than adults. It's the change in life that is hard to deal with.
  6. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I did not experience the same thing, but I would have felt the same as Gertie. However, this child might be happy to be treated differently because he is really clever. Do you have any really good volunteers who come in? Perhaps one to one they can do some stretching work with him which will cover more than what you think he is missing out on in class due to not applying himself. And if something to do with homelife is what is stressing him, he might unload a bit to a volunteer.
    But don't expect to hear anything back about it from the child or the volunteer. I am a volunteer and I get told nothing about the children who come to me one to one from class.
  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    From personal experience (as the parent left behind) I echo Gertie's good advice
  8. Sadly, teachers today are not encouraged to be kind, caring and receptive. Teachers now have to make children achieve 3 points progress each year or else their own pay progression and career is at stake. A child who has not been bereaved who is suddenly making no progress would be getting a rocket lit under them! I think it is lovely that his teacher is thinking sensitively about him and would also suggest that counselling is the way forward.
  9. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    I agree with alot of what gertie and other have said, but it depends on the child. We had one that still wanted to discuss it with a teacher on a regular basis, because she didnt feel she could discuss it with parents. (It was a sibling who died) However children are very resiliant, especially the younger they are and seem to get on with it quicker than adults sometimes and a year is a very long time in a child's life.
    However it is worth talking to his dad to see his opinion with it. We have had 2 berieved children who have had ongoing problems, but in both incidences it has been because the other parent isnt coping. ie one was drinking heavily and was taking the child to the grave everyday for a long talk and crying with his dead wifes grave and the other who had lost a child had 2 clinically depressed parents who had had to give up work and had all sorts of financial problems. Not only were the children constantly reminded of the death, they were reacting more to the state of their parents.
  10. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    sorry bereaved. Knew it didnt look right!
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Fortunately I don't work in a school that has that ethos so I can get up everyday and enjoy my job.
  12. snugglepot

    snugglepot Occasional commenter

    We have had two families in the last 18 months that have lost a parent.One child found his dad.He was very clingy.He was placed in school the day after and I felt this was really the wrong place for him as he was in deep shock.The class teacher and I have given him love, support, a listening ear and were just 'there for him.'Although I have not been working in his new class he has come and stood with me every time I am on duty until the last fortnight.He did this all through last year.We just talked about anything.Sometimes he wanted to mention dad but most times he just wanted to be there.We knew eventually he wouldn't need us any more except for the occasional times.His sister didn't need this level of support but she was younger and didn't find him.The other child's parent died from and illness and it was almost as if he wiped from his memory that day.He has rarely mentioned her.Every child is different.
    Could the child stay back and 'help' you instead of assembly? Make him feel needed and he may open out to you.Is there anyone in school who knows the family circumstances that could offer any insight?
    We have a sharing time in staff meetings so if any child in school is needing a bit more support then we are there to give it. Badger's Parting Gifts is a lovely story that we have in school.We have several children in school who have lost siblings and we lost a child from our school who was on the way in.We have a story sack now just in case someone needs it.
  13. Well, aren't you the lucky one. Sadly, lots of other teachers are in this position and I would not advise an NQT to allow a child to coast and make no progress without drawing attention to the problem early and putting in strategies to support the child. It is far to late to give excuses in the summer term if the child has not made sufficient progress.
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Who said anything about a child not making progress?
    A child is more likely to make progress if they are happy and secure in a caring environment perhaps you should try it
  15. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Teachers in my school are definitely encouraged to be kind, caring and receptive. However we are that way to all children all of the time. However we would not start things like counselling and referrals without reference to the father, nor would we assume that under-performance was due to a bereavement a year ago.

    I would recommend continuing to be kind and caring (assuming you are already, if not then flippin well start) and mention at parents evening that things are not going too well this year and you are concerned about progress. The same as you would for any other child. Then see what the father says.
  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    From a mother's perspective
    My husband died when my son was just 5 and for the next 7 years his teachers and EPs put his problems down to the loss of his father. Eventually at age 14 he was diagnosed with SpLD and only as after leaving school was his ASD recognised ...
  17. Oh, your claws are out tonight, aren't they? The OP, who is an NQT, said in her first post that the child we are discussing is not making progress. That is her concern. Gertie Grumbles then popped up to yell at the OP and said that she should not suggest counselling or intervention. That is not good advice to a teacher who stands to lose her job and possibly her teaching registration if she fails this year!
    I have a successful record of creating a secure and caring environment in my classroom, thanks. Also I have mentored plenty of NQTs and they need realistic advice that will not wreck their careers.
  18. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Can I just reassure the OP that one child not making progress will not endanger your career, at all.

    However complaints from parents about inappropriate meddling in emotional affairs that may well be utterly irrelevant will certainly cause you untold problems.

    What would you do for any other child who is not making progress? Then do that.
  19. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I don't recall the OP saying she will lose her job if the child fails to make progress so perhaps she is working in a school that values wellbeing as well as results. The OPs question seems to be motivated by concern about the child rather than about herself so clearly she cares and values kindness.
    As I said in my previous post lack of progress should not automatically be assumed to be due to the loss of a parent a year ago and needs to be investigated as you would with any other child. Start by speaking to the father
  20. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    realistic advice or alarmist scaremongering?

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