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This post was published by MAC’s Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, a collaboration with Harvard Law School whose mission is to ensure that children impacted by family violence and other adverse childhood experiences succeed in school. Click here to see the original post.

Video on the Impacts of Trauma on Learning Part 1: Academic Performance

The long days of summer are winding down and a new school year is quickly approaching or has already started for many of us. This presents an exciting opportunity to return to the work of creating trauma-sensitive, safe and supportive learning environments for all students. We are excited to share a series of short videos that can be used for the whole staff in the on-going work of deepening the understanding of the prevalence and impacts of trauma on learning, a critical step in creating a trauma-sensitive school.

Last month, we shared a short video on the prevalence of traumatic experience. Over the next few weeks we will share a three part video series with TLPI’s Training Director, Joel M. Ristuccia, Ed.M., speaking about the impacts of trauma on academic performance, behavior and relationships. Our hope is that the videos are used to help school staff learn together to build a shared understanding of the impacts of trauma and to help keep educators from misunderstanding the many reasons underlying some student’s difficulties with learning, behavior and relationships.

Academic Performance

Learning to read, write, take part in a discussion, and solve mathematical problems rests on many underlying foundations—organization, comprehension, memory, the ability to produce work, engagement in learning, and trust. Another prerequisite for achieving classroom competency is the ability to self-regulate attention, emotions, and behavior. Not surprisingly, trauma resulting from overwhelming experiences has the power to disturb a student’s development of these foundations for learning. It can undermine the development of language and communication skills, thwart the establishment of a coherent sense of self, compromise the ability to attend to classroom tasks and instructions, interfere with the ability to organize and remember new information, and hinder the grasping of cause-and-effect relationships—all of which are necessary to process information effectively.

To hear more, please watch the video.

Please look for our subsequent video on the impact of trauma on learning Part 2: Classroom Behavior coming next week.

We hope you are returning relaxed, recharged and ready for the new school year and we send our most sincere wishes for a year full of growth and achievement.