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Educators of young children and knowledge of trauma-informed practice Khodarahmi, Negar

Abstract

Decades of research on the impact of trauma in early childhood suggest severe risks to the mental health, emotional, social, and physical development of a young child. More recent research suggests that prolonged exposure to trauma can also affect a child’s ability to learn and their early academic success. Trauma-exposed students can pose a variety of different levels of challenges to schools and educators of young children and to date, few studies have addressed ECE teachers’ role in providing trauma support. An aim of the present study was to contribute to this literature by exploring the beliefs of BC early childhood education (ECE) teachers in their level of readiness and capability to work within a trauma-informed practice (TIP) framework to support their trauma-exposed students. Through a sequential, mix-methods approach, a self-report survey and semi-structured interviews were used to gauge BC ECE teachers’ knowledge of TIP, their preparedness, and their ability in using this framework to support their most vulnerable students. Teacher participants were recruited through the Early Childhood Educators of British Columbia conference and ECE community social media groups, Survey data was primarily collected through an online survey with interviews taking place in-person and audio-recorded. Survey results revealed that the majority of teachers believe they are somewhat prepared and able to apply the tenants of TIP in their classrooms despite a lack of training and resources provided by their schools and administrations. In follow-up interviews 14 subthemes emerged from a thematic analysis of the data under four broad themes: Challenges for ECE Teachers, Administrative Protocol and Support, Effective Approaches and Additional Support Desired by ECE Teachers. Findings of this study suggest ECE teachers are very interested in receiving more knowledge and training to provide optimal support for their trauma-exposed students.

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