Trauma, ESL, School…OH MY!

When a body thinks it’s in danger, all its resources go to survival. There is not a capacity to develop, learn, and grow. Our children’s pasts often make them seem like they have learning disorders. And they may, but there is a good chance they will grow out of them as connection and healing occur. However, that does not negate the frustration that is experienced by both teacher and student. If you’re a parent with a non-native English speaking child from trauma, the following exchange may seem reminiscent.

Image courtesy of artur84 /

Image courtesy of artur84 /

The following conversation actually occurred between a homeschool mom and her 14-year-old child (home for one year).

How do you spell “WOW?”


A-W says aw like a cute baby.

So what?

What says /ow/?


Yes, but you can’t use that at the end of English words. Which one can you use at the end?

I dunno!

(we only drill these every day)
 O-W says /ow/

Ok, so “wow”..W-O-M.

Where did the M come from?

That’s what you told me!

No, I said, O-W says /ow/.

Fine. W-O-M-E.

Again…why an M?

What then? M-O?

What says /ow/?

FINE! Don’t help me!

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