Children in care
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Children in care. Information for kindergarten teachers. Purpose. This presentation provides information to help teachers understand some of the challenges, and better support children in care.

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Children in care
Children in care

  • Information for kindergarten teachers


This presentation provides information to help teachers understand some of the challenges, and better support children in care.

It is informed by Calmer Classrooms: A guide to working with traumatized children, by Laurel Downey, 2007, available at:

Children in care1
Children in care

  • Children in care are likely to experience behavioural problems and health issues, such as a higher incidence of depression, anxiety and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

  • Their attendance at kindergarten may also be erratic.

    Children in care may need many repetitions of the same activity to learn new skills and behaviours. Kindergarten teachers can work to develop positive relationships with children in care by understanding some of the challenges for these children.

Supporting children in care
Supporting children in care

  • Kindergarten teachers are in a position to support children in care in each of the learning and development areas.


  • Children in care may experience challenges due to:

    • feelings of shame

    • having low levels of trust in adults

    • lacking feelings of attachment

    • failing to respond to positive encouragement.

  • Children in care may experience a sense of isolation, even in kindergarten. Kindergarten teachers can support them to build a confident self identity.


  • Children in care may have a compromised sense of connectedness. This might present as difficulty:

  • understanding emotions

  • showing care and concern for others

  • interacting positively.

  • Teachers can provide support by modelling strategies for interacting positively and by explicitly teaching skills, e.g. turn-taking in group time.


  • Children in care may require support to understand and regulate emotions. They may not have internalised limits and boundaries, or thelanguage to express their feelings and responses.

  • Teachers can:

  • enhance emotional literacy* by labelling and discussing feelings

  • teach strategies for managing problem solving and strong emotional feelings, and for resolving conflict.

* the ability to recognise, understand and appropriately express emotions.

Active learning
Active learning

  • Abuse, neglect and other trauma reduce a child’s capacity to manage stress and engage in learning.

  • Children in care might present with hyperarousal* and/or dissociation†.

  • When teachers understand the reason for these behaviours, they are in a better position to support the child to engage in learning.

* reacting aggressively and trying to control their environments, reacting negatively to discipline

† withdrawal, inattention, pre-occupied fear state, blank, numb.


  • Children in care may experience

  • delays in speech and language

  • development.

  • Teachers can support children by:

  • focusing on communication and interaction with other children and adults

  • explicitly teaching skills for communicating and making ideas clearer by adding visual cues, gesture or mime

  • referring the child for further specialised support.

Strategies for kindergarten teachers
Strategies for kindergarten teachers

  • Teachers can support children in care by:

  • noticing the child’s progress, rather than comparing the child’s learning and development with peers

  • providing specific strategies to support learning

  • encouraging each child to do their best

  • collaborating with carers and support agencies

  • building successful strategies to manage transitions to school.

Inclusive learning environments
Inclusive learning environments

  • Kindergarten can provide inclusive learning environments for children in care by:

  • providing continuity and stability for children living turbulent lives

  • allowing children to experience safe and accepting environments

  • ensuring there are adults who establish strong relationships with vulnerable children

  • responding to the needs of the child in all areas of development and learning.

Further resources
Further resources

  • Commission for Children and Young People (Vic), including Calmer classrooms & Caring classrooms

  • Queensland Studies Authority> Professional topics > Inclusion and diversity > Children at risk

  • Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services > Protecting children

  • Office for Early Childhood Education and Care