When Thomas first came to Quinte Children’s Homes a couple of years ago, he was generally shy and withdrawn. However, he also had some significant behavioral issues. Those same issues came up in the classroom when he started attending Applewood Academy.
“Thomas had a lot of aggressive behaviour and conflicts with other students,” explained Angela Cross, who leads the elementary program for Applewood. “But he’s made a lot of progress in the past year; he’ll be returning to public school in September.”
Dealing with aggressive behaviour
A lot of kids, like Thomas, react when they feel frustrated. Cross explains that part of the way kids learn to deal with the frustration is to help them find different ways to handle it.
“We do interviews to talk about behaviours that are present,” she said. “What was the situation? How did you feel? If that same situation happened again, what could you do so it would have a more positive outcome?”
Thomas is learning to speak out when he’s feeling agitated and to make more positive choices when he’s frustrated. He’s also learning different coping skills. “We encourage activities that play on his strengths,” said Cross.
“For example, Thomas loves to read so we might encourage him to read a book,” she explained. “Or we’ll suggest that he talk it through with someone, leave the room, or listen to music. Any activity that engages his mind with something else.”
Coping skills help him focus on the important stuff
Despite his love of reading, when Thomas first came to Applewood he was about a grade level behind in both reading and writing.
During this past school year, however, he caught up: He is academically at his grade level, and has gone up three grade levels in math since September.
“We’ve given Thomas skills to help manage his aggression, and he’s now starting to use those skills on his own, without being reminded,” said Cross. This has helped him focus on academics and move forward.
Next September, Cross says Thomas will attend public school for one class a day. The goal is to have him in class full-time by the end of the school year.
“Going into a classroom of 30 kids, instead of the small classes we have at Applewood, is going to be a big adjustment for Thomas,” noted Cross, explaining that staff from Applewood will work with the principal and case workers to review what to expect and how they can help him succeed.
“Thomas is doing very well academically, and he’s learning to maintain and sustain relationships with other students,” Cross said. “The socialization with other kids will be a big difference, but we’ll make sure he has the support he needs.”
Learn more about Applewood Academy
Applewood was created to ensure kids with specialized treatment needs have access to high quality, compassionate and therapeutic educational programming.
At the same time, we try to build on our students’ strengths with a goal of moving them into a public school setting whenever possible. For more information about our program, please contact us directly or connect with us on Twitter.
* The names and images in this article have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.*