by Jennifer Jones, director of child and family systems innovation, Alliance

Three recent articles discuss brain science and how we can understand and create better lives for children. They identify five things needed for good mental health and how to infuse schools and their staff with trauma-informed practices for children suffering from toxic stress.

5 Things Every Child Needs

KVC Health Systems, a member of the Change in Mind cohort, featured another informative blog post on its website. This one describes five things children need for good mental health, including a safe, supportive environment, positive interactions, emotional literacy, appropriate guidance and discipline, and resilience.

Trauma-Informed Teaching

“How Trauma-Informed Teaching Builds A Sense of Safety and Care” from KQED News reviews Unconditional Education, a program of Alliance for Strong Families and Communities member Seneca Family of Agencies in Oakland, California. The program works with schools to train teachers and administrators about the effects of trauma on the brain and behavior of children.

Unconditional Education coaches help teachers to frame feedback positively, to work on building relationships with difficult students outside of academics, and generally to serve as a reminder that a student’s trauma isn’t his or her fault.

How Trauma is Changing Children’s Brains

“How Trauma is Changing Children’s Brains” from NEA Today describes how trauma-sensitive teachers often offer a “comfort zone” to their students, a safe space where kids can retreat and calm down. The article recommends teaching strategies that include predictable classroom routines with advance warning to students of any changes and asking students to repeat verbal instructions.