Being at GROW means understanding behaviour: being able to see children not simply as misbehaving, but as possibly stressed, scared, anxious, or confused; as people who are not making sense of the world as we might expect; people whose behaviour is communicating their need and whose relationships may not always fall within a secure attachment style.
A shift from more traditional language to a relational trauma-informed description of vulnerable individuals is important. This enables
Compassion, instead of blame
Hope, instead of hopelessness
Connection, instead of disconnection
Being at GROW therefore means focusing on relationships and connecting with each child and their families; helping children learn how to 'self-regulate,' to recognise and manage their feelings and thoughts; and helping children to be happy to learn.
The Guiding Principles of GROW
Nurture: Nurture means that relationships matter and caring counts. Perry's research (2004) indicates that the number, quality and stability of relationships is a strong predictor of resilience and recovery from trauma. The adults at GROW are therefore patient, parallel and present. Safety is always paramount at GROW - whether this is emotional, physical or physiological.
Engagement: Iovannone et al (2003) found that 'engagement' is the single best predictor of successful learning for children with learning disabilities. Engagement means building on the individuals strength, as well as providing opportunities for skill building and practising skills. At GROW we have an awareness of the child's emotional age (rather than chronological age) and aim to engage children with effective teaching, meaningful outcomes, real attainment and quality progress.
Structure: Predictable, consistent, responsive and nurting caregiving is crucial for the development of bonding and attachment. At GROW, we favour structure, predictability and routine over chaos - this means that the adults listen, understand and consistently do what they say they are going to do.
Challenge: Carol Dweck's theory of mindsets has significant practical implications for us at GROW. Her research has shown that students who hold a 'growth mindset' do better in school and that teaching students a growth mindset enhances their achievement. At GROW, mistakes are welcome, problems can be kept small and there is always a way back.