Let Children Grieve!

I came across a news article that has been doing the rounds on facebook ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11945031/Grieving-children-cant-have-extra-days-off-schools-Minister-warns.html ) It is a report dated October and I do remember being highly frustrated at the time but now with all the SATs uproar, the secret teacher resignation letters that have also been doing the rounds ( http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/zoa-brown/sorry-nicky-morgan-im-out_b_9978988.html ) and the recent court case regarding term time holidays where by the high court ruled in favour of father Jon Platt who took his daughter on a term time holiday to florida and was fined for doing so, it has all come up again.

The idea that children should not be allowed time off of school to grieve is appalling. Holidays is another debate all together, but pretty much everyone in their lifetime will experience grief. Cold, hard, painful, lonely grief. The loss of a loved one. The ice cold grip on your heart that makes you want to cry out loud if only you could muster the breath to do so.

As adults, grief is hard to deal with. To be fair, the loss of a loved one is not something that you ever really get over. You learn to live, you learn to tread water and keep yourself afloat while you work out how to move forward. How many adults when coping with the loss of a loved one will take  compassionate leave from work? How many adults would accept that they are not in the best of head spaces to behave professionally, to be able to handle members of the public, to be able to support other people, to be able to do their job! I know that when I suffered the loss of a loved one I needed to be at home, I was employed at the time in a difficult support role and I did not feel that I would be able to handle certain situations professionally in my emotional state.

I am not saying that everyone would handle grief in this way. There is a number of us who will strive for normality. Keeping a lid on things and needing that regular routine to help them not to fly off the rails altogether. Thats fine too, however you deal with grief is whatever you have to do to get you through some of the most difficult times that we encounter.  My point is, that it isnt for anyone else to decide.

For a child, grief can be like the great unknown. Completely new and unfamiliar feelings. A whole new concept of loss that they need to explore and get their heads around. For a number of children regular routine, the structure of the classroom and the normality of having friends around them can be a blessing, but again we move into that “one size fits all” package that we all know just doesnt really work.  There will be a large number of children who need time out to process difficult and new feelings. Children who need to be with family, perhaps children who need to be away from home to be with said family. Sometimes the parents need to be away from home to take care of practical arrangements and the children need to accompany them.

Families arent all local in close knit communities anymore, they are spread far and wide the world over, so one authorised day absence may not be sufficient for a child to attend a funeral.

Would schools seriously be expecting children and young people suffering a loss, experiencing the grip of grief to attend school to keep their head down, to work hard and not to disrupt the other students? To be in an environment where if they break down in to tears they are not going to given a hug and they may even face laughter, pointing and ridicule? Bullies dont take a break to respect grief, I learnt that the hard way!

On top of the stress and upset that bereavement and grief can cause there is serious recommendations that parents should face prosecution and action surrounding unauthorised absence at such a difficult time?!

I cant quite get my head round the fact that the person who is in a position to make these decisions and demands has no children of his own. He has no teaching experience. He has no knowledge or qualification in child development. Yet he has been deemed fit by our government to impose such rules. To expect our children and and young people to behave in a manner which even us as adults would immensely struggle with!  Are we really supposed to be raising a generation of emotionally constipated robots?!


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