GSOE Female Teacher Students Reading Floor

Trauma and Learning

Lesley's Center for Special Education and its collaborators help teachers, staff, schools, and districts understand how trauma can affect learning, and what to do about it.

Support for the Educational Initiative on Childhood Trauma

Oak FoundationLesley's Educational Initiative on Childhood Trauma is supported by the Oak Foundation. The Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.

Excerpts from the Trauma-Sensitive Checklist

Selected elements from the five components of a trauma-sensitive school:*Trauma Spotlight

  • School contains predictable and safe environments that are attentive to transitions and sensory needs. 
  • Discipline policies balance accountability with an understanding of trauma.
  • Expectations are communicated in clear, concise, and positive ways, and goals for achievement of students affected by trauma are consistent with the rest of the class.
  • Students' strengths and interests are encouraged and incorporated.
  • Staff uses a repertoire of skills to actively engage and build relationships with families.
  • Access exists to trauma-competent services for prevention, intervention, treatment, and crisis intervention.
  • Staff has regular opportunities for assistance from mental health providers in responding appropriately and confidentially to families. 

*School-wide policies and practices; classroom strategies and techniques; collaborations and linkages with mental health; family partnerships; and collaborations and linkages with mental health.

Download full Trauma Sensitive School Checklist [pdf].

Trauma and Learning Resources

Helping Traumatized Children LearnHelping Traumatized Children Learn, a 117-page report by the Massachusetts Advocates for Children Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, summarizes the research on how child development is affected by trauma, noting the varied consequences for academic performance as well as social and emotional functioning. This book also identifies the need for school-wide ecological supports (Trauma Sensitive Schools) as the basis for student success.
Helping Traumatized Children Volume IIA second volume, Helping Traumatized Children Learn Volume II, articulates the process for encouraging development of Trauma Sensitive Schools, through the creation of Learning Organizations within schools that follow an effective change process using an inquiry based methodology. A policy agenda calls for changes in laws and policies to support schools.

For More Information

These courses are offered through school districts. If your school or district is interested in learning more, please contact:

Dr. Salvatore Terrasi
Project Director

Patricia Crain de Galarce
Center for Special Education Director 

Center for Special Education

Patricia Crain de Galarce, Director

Juliet LeBlanc, Program Manager