Tag Archives: behaviour

Guest post: Fagus, a framework for emotional and social development

Today we welcome a guest post from Fagus, about a new tool they’veFagus logos developed 25-04-2016 5 developed for use in educational settings…

“One way teachers can become more sensitive to children is to increase their knowledge of child development.” (p. 158, Bergin & Bergin, 2009)

The impact of early trauma and loss on children’s subsequent development can be profound. For these children emotional and social development is often atypical, either developing later, at a slower rate or in a disordered manner. They often have ‘spiky’ profiles, with typical and expected behaviour in some areas but immature functioning in others. It is vital that teachers understand this development in order to understand children’s behaviour.

All too often we hear of children’s developmentally immature behaviour being misunderstood and labelled as ‘naughty’. But how can we expect teachers to understand emotional and social development if they aren’t taught about it in initial training, or given materials to help them do this? Two and a half years ago, at Beech Lodge School, we began working to fill this gap and Fagus was born!

Fagus (Noun: Latin Fagus (“beech”) – The Tree of Learning) is a comprehensive educational tool which supports teaching staff to:

  • Understand typical emotional and social development during childhood and adolescence.
  • Clarify their understanding of a child’s strengths and difficulties across emotional and social functioning.
  • Use this understanding to set appropriate goals for pupils in emotional and social domains.
  • Monitor social and emotional progress.

Fagus divides emotional and social development into 13 areas:

FAgus tree

Three areas (Attachment, Cognitive Development and Language Development) are so fundamental to all aspects of development that these are identified as Core Developmental Areas. These can be considered as the ‘roots’ of development, from which the other ‘branches’ grow. Those living or working with children with attachment difficulties will be all too familiar with the impact of a disrupted attachment ‘root’ on the other roots and subsequent ‘branches’.

The Fagus Materials

The Fagus online checklists are completed by teaching staff and are used to create a developmental profile of the child. This provides a visual snapshot of a child’s development across the Fagus emotional/social domains, identifying key areas of need (i.e. the areas in which the child is most developmentally delayed):

Fagus table

On the profile, typical development is coloured green, somewhat delayed development yellow and significantly delayed development red. This child has a ‘spiky’ profile, with many strengths in some areas and significant difficulties in others.  

Teachers can then use the Fagus developmental guides to investigate a child’s current point of development further and identify specific behaviours that they would like to improve. Using this information they can set a goal for the child, based on what would be expected to happen next in typical development. A plan can then be devised to help the pupil achieve this goal. Within the Fagus framework the aim is to support the child to move through the sequence systematically, rather than expecting them to make huge leaps towards behaviours associated with their chronological age.

Using Fagus

Since its conception, Fagus has been used with pupils at Beech Lodge School and trialled in mainstream schools in Yorkshire and Humberside as part of a DfE funded PAC-UK project. We have received extremely positive feedback. Helen Hoban, educational advisor at PAC-UK has found that the Fagus materials shift the focus away from ‘problem’ behaviours to understanding the potential reasons behind this behaviour. In her words, for teachers, “the penny doesn’t just drop, it thuds”. She has also found that gaining a shared understanding of the child’s development brings teachers and parents onto the same page, enabling them to create a joint action plan to move forward. Most importantly, we have seen significant developmental progression being made by children as a direct result of using Fagus.

We are delighted to be launching the materials to all schools this week. For more information please visit www.fagus.org.uk (where the resource can be ordered) or email fagus@beechlodgeschool.co.uk. The cost for schools to buy Fagus is £660 (developmental guides) plus an annual licence fee to access the online checklists and profiles (£50 + £5 per pupil per year). We have an introductory offer of £495 with one year’s free annual licence for 10 pupils if ordered before 1st November 2016. Fagus was initially developed for pupils with attachment and trauma related difficulties; it is an effective and powerful use of Pupil Premium Plus funding.

All profits from Fagus go directly to Beech Lodge School – a not-for-profit charitable school for children aged 7-17 who have emotional and social difficulties. The majority of pupils at Beech Lodge have been fostered and adopted. For more information see www.beechlodgeschool.co.uk

References

Bergin, C., & Bergin, D. (2009). Attachment in the classroom. Educational Psychology Review21(2), 141-170. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.461.5271&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Are all adopted children destructive?

Today’s problem shared comes from a prospective adoptive parent looking for some help on expectations and risks of adoption…

I have just finished the assessment process and am due to go to panel next month. I am well A Problem Sharedadread on attachment issues and how adopted children need a different style of parenting. I know people who have adopted and have adopted members in my own family.

I came to adoption because I have always thought that it would be selfish to have biological children when there are so many children in care, waiting for a family. Conscious that I could meet Mr Right and he could want his own, or may not want any kids I waited until I hit 40, but he never showed up. I have never had any particular drive to desperately want children, rather that I have a nurturing personality and have room in my house and my life and I think I would do a pretty good job as a parent, albeit as a single Mum.

So here I am, living my nice little life, with my content little existence in the country with my dog and hens and job, knowing that adopting a child will turn it all upside-down but that it will be well worth it. I have been on the adoption training course and follow up workshops and theraplay courses etc etc. and have had more than a dozen visits from the social worker who has just completed my PAR… when I read Sally Donovan’s Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting.  Now, I know there will be ups and downs, but I know I would not be able to cope with that level of violence and undesirable behaviour. I then looked up blogs online and they all seem to also give me the jitters with more examples of destruction and violence.

What I need to know is to what extent this is to be expected of any and all children coming from care. Or, are these examples not typical, but representative of the worst case scenario. Certainly the few people I know that have adopted have not had to endure the destructiveness or the sort of physical and verbal abuse from their children that I have read about. Maybe they are not typical?

I have already discussed matching considerations with the SW and made it clear that I would not be the right parent for a child with a high level of additional need. I expect to have to put away all precious and breakable things in the early stages… what I haven’t been prepared for is that I may not see my precious things again until after the child has left home! And I really could not live in a family where I feared the child may harm themselves, others or the dog.

Some of you will be thinking that I don’t sound like I have got what it takes, others may be thinking that I just need to be clear when it comes to matching, but I need to know which of those is the truth… I want to adopt in order to give a child a happy family life, and would prefer not to venture into it at all if there is a real risk I could let that child down by not being up to the job.

I know that early trauma is not something that I can magically fix in the first few months, but am I being too naïve in thinking that adopting a child isn’t going to be as hard and potentially devastating as some accounts describe. In my head I am wondering if all the professionals I have spoken to have taken as read that I know that this is the reality of children looking for an adoptive family, while my friends are saying that I am reading worst case scenarios and that I am worrying about something that is very unlikely. You guys are the only ones who can tell me….

To my wife…

Today’s post is written by an adoptive father, who wishes to remain anonymous.

My wife does it all really.
I go to work each day. I come home, eat dinner, bath the kids and put them to bed, and carry on like this day after day. At weekends I get a glimpse of how my children interact with each other and their mother. I get to see some of the behaviour that wears my wife down each day, the booksstruggles that mean she’s asleep by 9 on the sofa, and the abuse that is hurled at her and makes her weep into her Chablis in the evenings.

My wife, she’s the one who reads the books, researches online, joins in message boards and forums, uses twitter for support, she’s also the one who goes on the courses run by our local authority. She knows, and she learns and she feeds back to me, and I struggle to comprehend it all, not because I don’t want to, but because it’s so bloody hard to accept that these little people have endured so much already in their short lives, and it’s doubly hard to accept that adults – people in charge – subjected MY children to such crap beginnings.

I have the utmost respect for single adoptive parents – doing it themselves, without someone to tag in the evenings when it’s been too much.
But mostly, I have respect for my wife. I have my own demons that I’ve had to overcome, but she, well, she had all those physical investigations during fertility treatment. She fought to get us into the adoption process – it wasn’t an easy ride. She put her all into learning, reflection and supporting me through the self-examination involved. And she parents our children to the best of her abilities.

She is my rock, and my love, and despite the hell our kids put her through, she is the best mother for those kids. She’ll be reading this, and I hope it helps her realise (and all the other parents out there) that although many days are shit, she is appreciated, loved and needed.

Controlling Children When Out

A PROBLEM SHARED……... Here a mum of two has contributed a problem she has, and would like some advice on. If you’ve had similar experiences and found a way of dealing with it, please share your suggestions in the comments below. I’m sure lots of readers are interested to hear how other families handle problems that many of us face.

I have two boys aged 10 and 7. They were both adopted as toddlers.
My problem is dealing with them when we are out and about. They run around screaming and shouting with total disregard for anyone else.

While I am happy that they are apparently enjoying themselves, it can get inconvenient and dangerous. They barge past people, nearly send toddlers flying and are a real pair of handfuls. They also have poor impulse control and will try to open doors, interfere with pushchairs and generally make themselves a nuisance. It is really stressful and exhausting taking them out as we feel we have to watch them both all the time and it becomes very negative, we are saying no, stop, look out, don’t touch, be careful etc all the time.

ControlingChildren

I try to give praise when I can… But it isn’t always easy, and often goes straight over their heads. They both have very short attention spans and are very active boys, my youngest in particular won’t walk if he can run, and resents having to walk holding hands with me, which is where he usually ends up. We try and take them to places where there is plenty of space and where it is safe, but that isn’t so easy in winter. We have to take them out or they go stir crazy.

Any suggestions please as to how to help them enjoy themselves in a calmer way? The eldest in particular is getting too big to run around like a toddler. We’ve talked to him about it, he understands why he needs to be more careful of other people, but in the heat of the moment he just forgets it all. They are better when we split them up, but they love to be together and we don’t want to divide our family all the time.

Do you have a problem to share? Maybe it’s a certain behaviour your child displays or a how to respond to questions from others. Something that you would like to receive some advice on and hear how others would approach the same issue. If so contact us at theadoptionsocial@mail.com or here on the contributors page.