Tips for working with students who have experienced trauma

Martha ConradtFeb. 21, 2020
At Lead to Read KC’s Lunch & Learn event, Susan Pinne of TraumaSmart shares insights on how trauma affects student learning—and how to help students succeed.

Did you know that 83 percent of inner-city youth report experiencing one or more traumatic events? 

Here are some tips from our January 2020 Lunch & Learn presentation from Susan Pinné and the team from TraumaSmart for making a reading session a safe, supportive learning environment for your student: 

  • Ask “What may have happened to this child?” not “What is wrong with this child?”
  • Provide consistency:
    • Attend regularly.
    • Have a routine such as a special greeting or good-bye.
    • Read in the same location each week. 
    • Need to miss a session? Send a note to your student via your Site Coordinator. 
  • Offer options to help your student feel safe and have a sense of control. For example, ask “Would you like me to read first, or would you like to read first?” If the student is not willing to participate, simply reading aloud to them is always a good option. 
  • Praise specific successes to give your student a sense of accomplishment. For example: “You did a great job sounding out the three-syllable words today!”  
  • Ease transitions. Give a “time warning” when the session is nearly over, such as “We have about five minutes left.”  

Looking for more tips? Here are some videos recommended by the TraumaSmart team: