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My goal is to provide you with tools that help inform, empower and boost your confidence as a parent so you can make the best decisions possible for you and your family.  Parenting is challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. I am here to guide you through the 3D Parent approach to parenting, so you can stop struggling and start celebrating all of the time you have with your children.

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Best School Fit For Highly Sensitive Children

May 19, 2021

In this episode of The 3D Parent Podcast, I’m focusing on finding the best school fit for highly sensitive children. Typical or traditional school environments can often be highly overwhelming and even wounding for highly sensitive children. An overly stimulating classroom can cause high alarm for children with this temperament. Today we will examine the unique needs of children who are highly sensitive and discuss how to make the best decision for your child and your family.

 

Points we will discuss include:

  • How traditional school environments affect highly sensitive children
  • Special considerations for the schooling environment of highly sensitive children
  • How to know if your current school environment is working or if it’s time for a change

If you have a highly sensitive child and a typical school environment seems like it is not a good fit for your kid or is not working, you may be right. Realize that you may need to go down a different path than you anticipated or change your child’s world if it is not working. And remember that what’s needed now will not necessarily be what is needed forever. Trust yourself to make the best decision for your child and your family. 

 


 

Things You Will Learn

[00:20] In this episode of The 3D Parent Podcast, I’m focusing on finding the best school fit for highly sensitive children. Typical or traditional school environments can often be highly overwhelming and even wounding for highly sensitive children. An overly stimulating classroom can cause high alarm for children with this temperament. Today we will examine the unique needs of children who are highly sensitive and discuss how to make the best decision for your child and your family.

[03:45] Before I discuss the needs of highly sensitive children when it comes to schooling, I want to refresh my explanation of what the highly sensitive temperament looks like (I discuss this in depth in episode 23 of the podcast, so be sure to listen to that if you want a more thorough explanation). In general, highly sensitive children are distressed by sensitivities (could include smells, tastes, sounds, etc). They are usually very bright, observant, and creative. They have big emotional reactions and could be described as “intense” or “spirited.” They are highly impacted by the emotions of others and are often prone to high anxiety. Keep in mind that it is a spectrum, but the more sensitive the child, the more impacted they are by their environment. 

[8:00] There are four main considerations when selecting the best school environment for a highly sensitive child: timing, teachers, classroom/school environment, and education style/approach. I will discuss each of these in depth. When it comes to timing, it’s important to keep in mind that while highly sensitive children may develop cognitive skills quickly, their ability to regulate their emotions may be behind their peers. Both intellectual skills and emotional regulation are important for success in school. Preschool and daycare may not be the best option for a very young highly sensitive child. Keeping these children back for a bit may help. And schools with shorter days or more flexible hours may also help.

[16:22]  Highly sensitive children benefit most from teachers:

  • Who understand high sensitivity, attachment theory, and developmental psychology
  • Who do not raise their voices, discipline punitively, use shame and guilt, or express their frustration at students
  • Who do not generalize or discipline the whole class
  • Who utilize gentle discipline rooted in relationship and connection
  • Who focus on connection 1st, academics 2nd
  • Who can be flexible with expectations when needed
  • Who see students as individuals and bring out their best
  • Who embrace a true partnership between parent/teacher

[19:24] Considerations for the best classroom environment for highly sensitive children would include:

  • Smaller class size
  • Rooms with natural light
  • Not overly stimulating decorations or lack of organization
  • Uniforms (could be a benefit if it cuts down on distractions, or it could be an issue if the uniform is too irritating for the child)
  • Preferential seating away from noisier kids or distractions
  • Access to quiet spaces and sensory areas
  • Classroom pets 
  • Shorter days or flexible schedule

[23:22] The fourth consideration is the learning approach. Highly sensitive children often thrive in emergent and interest led based curriculum. They do well in schools that value creative outlets. And some children do best in homeschool and/or co-op styles.

[27:18] How do parents know if their child is thriving in their school environment? Signs that things are going well could include if the child is attached to the teacher. If they take cues from them and give their hearts to them, that’s a great sign. Also, if your child has access to their feelings during or after school, that’s healthy too. You want them to be able to express their emotions. If you are homeschooling your child, it’s going well if the child can accept you, the parent, as their teacher, or, if they are independent enough, the parent only needs to help coordinate their schooling.

[32:16] On the flip side, signs for concern would include continued school refusal. If your child hates school and day after day tries not to go, that’s a major sign of concern. If your child has repeated behavioral problems, defended feelings, and chronic after school meltdowns, that’s another sign for concern. If your child struggles to form an attachment with their teacher, or the administration is not supportive of your child’s needs, that may be another sign that the current environment is not working. In the case of homeschooling, a cause for concern is when the child cannot accept you as both parent and teacher.

[35:31] If you have a highly sensitive child and a typical school environment seems like it is not a good fit for your kid or is not working, you may be right. Realize that you may need to go down a different path than you anticipated or change your child’s world if it is not working. This may mean waiting to start, changing schools, homeschool, or other options. Know that you do not have to have all the answers at once. And remember that what’s needed now will not necessarily be what is needed forever. Trust yourself to make the best decision for your child and your family.

 

  


 

Episode Resources

Episode 23: Parenting the Highly Sensitive “Orchid” Child

The Perfect School for Highly Sensitive Children Article 

Quotes From Episode 77

“No child needs to go to preschool or daycare. It's not something that is required for a young child to grow, develop, succeed, and reach their potential to be ready for kindergarten or primary school.”

 “Do not become overwhelmed or paralyzed by things you don't know the answer to.”

“Do what you know your child needs right now, and then work from there.”

 


 

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About Your Host

I’m Beaven Walters, your host and guide on this crazy and fulfilling journey as a parent.

As a certified parent coach, parent educator and mom of 4 children, I am passionate about helping parents navigate the tough stuff while maintaining dignity, direction and deep connection in your family relationships.  I have spent over 10 years teaching in a variety of educational settings with multiple age groups, and now I am delighted to bring those experiences to you at home. Throughout this podcast, we will cover topics such as tantrums, sibling conflict, screen time overload and transitioning into the teenage years.

My goal is to provide you with tools that help inform, empower and boost your confidence as a parent so you can make the best decisions possible for you and your family.  Parenting is challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone.

I am here to guide you through the 3D Parent approach to parenting, so you can stop struggling and start celebrating all of the time you have with your children.