Review: The Teacher's Introduction to Attachment
Aimed at teachers, carers and school support staff, the book promises to be "simple and concise" and, as a relatively slim volume, it is less daunting than some others I have seen on the subject, providing the immediate advantage that any educator it's given to might actually find the time in their busy schedules to read it. The bulk of the material is covered in a little over 130 pages. Not only that, but it is handily divided into manageable chapters, broken down into short sections that can easily be read and digested in a few minutes. I read the whole book in three sittings.
There are four sections:
- Part 1 deals with the theory behind attachment and trauma, covering some definitions, and also an introduction to brain development and how early traumatic experiences can affect it. The content is similar to what I have read elsewhere, but is both straightforward and thorough enough to provide a good grounding for someone who has no prior knowledge.
- Part 2 covers five "guiding principles". These are laid out as over-arching ideas to help the reader form a basis of understanding about how children with attachment difficulties might be operating, and how that might affect the ways in which adults relate to them. For example, "Structure Over Chaos" explains how free time and free play can send some children into chaotic overdrive, heightening stress and anxiety, and lays out the principles behind using a more structured, more closely supervised approach to create a safe environment for activities, with secure boundaries. Other principles covered in this section are "Relationships Over Programmes", "Emotional Age Over Chronological Age", "Time In Over Time Out" and "Sensory Less Over Sensory More".
- Part 3 goes into more detail over some specific areas of concern, such as shame, control, self-regulation, changes and organisation. Each one of the nine short chapters here explains the theory behind the area of concern, describes how to recognise if this is a problem area for a child, and suggests some strategies to help.
- The final section, Part 4, covers a few more general areas, such as triggers, rewards and communication.
Although I have done a fair bit of reading around attachment and some of the issues raised in this book, I haven't read a book specifically aimed at educators before, so I can't compare it to the works of other well-known authors in the field. However, I would recommend it as a resource for teachers, if for no other reason than it covers the main points using a very clear and understandable style, but without being dauntingly lengthy!
As a teacher myself, I would personally have appreciated a few more anecdotes related specifically to the school setting, and perhaps more specific focus on how to relate it to the classroom on a day-to-day basis. However, the book is written by an adoptive parent, rather than a teacher, and I think that in itself gives a useful perspective, helping educators to see things from the parent's viewpoint. As it is, the basic principles are laid out, with some guidance as to how to adapt practice in light of them, and then each school and teacher can go forward from there in the way that best suits their setting and practice.
Hopefully the early-years specialist I bought it for will find it useful - if I get any feedback, I'll let you know!