Placing children firmly in the hearts and minds of our student teachers

Group photo of former children's laureates.

Putting children at the centre of our thinking and practice is fundamental if we are to make a difference as teachers. Asking what children’s behaviour is communicating is essential if we are to nurture them through their school days. These are areas we address during the MEduc programme in the School of Education at the University of Glasgow. Following some input on brain development, attachment, trauma and adversity the second year undergraduate students produced creative responses to illustrate their evolving understanding in this area.

Here are three thoughtful and moving examples:

Cara Murphy: It Is Only Quarter Past Nine

This morning I couldn’t make a squeak,

as daddy was on the couch fast asleep.

I made my own breakfast but the milk was sour.

I cannot remember the last time I showered.

I made it to school today!

I hope my worries go away.

I did go to my bed very late,

but my daddy was in some state.

I’m sitting in class.

In a safe place at last.

The teacher called my name.

“HERE!” I exclaim.

My teacher started shouting,

all because one boy was pouting.

I can feel my heart going faster.

My dad would have slapped her.

He hits me then cuddles me.

He kisses me then kicks me.

Sometimes it’s all banter,

Then he tells me “life ain’t a canter.”

What was that sound?

What is that smell?

I am sitting all frowned.

I am not coping very well.

My mind will not stop,

and my brain feels all fuzzy.

My attentions span has dropped,

and I am missing my mummy.

I can’t think!

I can’t do!

I can’t focus!

I can’t stop!


What are you doing?

What is three times three?

It’s not that confusing!”

I wish my mummy was home.

I don’t like feeling this alone.

Daddy says she has her issues,

that it’s drugs that she will always choose.

So why does daddy drink so much,

that he expresses his emotions with a punch?

“LISTEN TO ME” screamed the teacher.

She can turn into a scary creature.

I need to focus,

Or the teacher will notice.

It may last just a while,

But put on a fake smile.

It is only quarter past nine.

Remember to act completely fine.

Concentrate, concentrate.

Wait! What was that noise?

Emily Cameron: The Child and the Car

I am a car. I am a beautiful red colour with shiny black tyres. My owner usually leaves me sitting in the garage for a long time, but I’m sure that’s just because they don’t want me getting dirty! However, when they do come and see me and take me out, they damage me. Whether it’s a crash, a scrape, or even just hitting a kerb it still hurts me. But I’m sure they don’t mean it because at the end of the day they’re my owner, and they wouldn’t mean that, right?

• The other day I got a scrape. It wasn’t a massive scrape, but it still has damaged my beautiful red colour and now my tyres aren’t so shiny either. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but my owner seemed pretty angry with me. I’ve been put back in the garage and I’m not sure I’m going to get fixed. But it’s okay, my owner still loves me I’m sure!

• It’s been a while but my owner’s finally taking me out for a drive again! I’m very excited. Hopefully we get to go on a big long drive through some pretty mountains and forests and I can see lots of wonderful things.

• The drive wasn’t how I expected it to be. My owner wasn’t being too careful with me and I burst a tyre. But it’s okay, I’m sure they’ll fix it soon!

• I’ve been sat in the garage for quite a few weeks now. I haven’t seen my owner have any interest in driving me recently, but maybe they’re just tired. I hope I get to see them soon.

• Yay! I’m getting to go out a drive today. Hopefully this one is better than the last one.

• Today wasn’t how I planned for it to go. I got into a very big crash. I’m not even sure how it happened, one moment everything was fine, next I was completely crashed into a wall. My owner was shouting at me, saying it’s all my fault and that I’m a useless car. They said that they might not even bother fixing me. I think I’m just going to get put in my dark garage forever now.

• Today I got woken up by the garage door opening. It was a person I didn’t recognise, and I was scared at first, but they told me they were going to take care of me and work on me everyday until I got all better again. I’m unsure what to expect, and I’m not sure I trust them yet, but I’ll give it a shot.

• A few weeks have gone by, and I’m starting to get my shiny red colour back, and I’ve had my burst tyre replaced. I’m still a bit damaged, but since I have seen this lovely new person every day I’m starting to get better and better. They’ve spent a lot of time repairing me and are bringing me back to my full potential. One day I’ll be all better again!

Shannon Cullen: The Field near the River

Over past the hillside, near the river flowing west,

Lies a field of grass and flowers, looking its very best.

The daffodils and lilies bloomed, as we reached the month of May,

But unfortunately for the vibrant field, things would not stay this way.

The field became abandoned, forgotten and left alone,

So soon the grass and flowers, became widely overgrown.

As the flowers died the weeds grew up, to a taller and taller height,

While the unloved field stood alone, both morning noon and night.

One day though a passer by near the river saw the field,

And by looking at its overgrown roots she knew it needed healed.

So as she walked back to her home, on that very same day,

She made herself a promise, that things would not always be this way.

When the sun rose the following morning, she ventured out again,

She saw the field’s potential, and knew what she had to do then.

With a little love and attention, it could return to what It once had been,

For what the little field needed most, was to be heard and seen.

So from that day on she returned to the field, creating a path to venture through.

She walked the same way every day, whether rain or clear skies of blue.

And as she walked the path soon eroded, right beneath her feet,

She paved the way for change along the path she would repeat.

Soon she realised the field was too big to fix herself, all alone,

She knew she needed help and could not do this on her own.

She told a friend about the field and brought them the day after,

It was then for the first time in a long time on the field you could hear laughter.

And from that day on, the field had more company than it ever had before,

What started off as a single person led to so much more.

For soon the field became beloved by all that travelled the path,

Filling the field with love and friendship, and many a joyous laugh.

Now the field had a village, it was decided real change could be made,

All of the weeds were lifted out so that flowers could be laid.

The grass was cut away, little by little until the field was clear,

So the flowers grew up in this safe space, now they had taken away the fear.

This did not happen overnight, it instead took many a year,

For the damage that had been inflicted had been quite severe.

But the love and care the field now had did not go away,

For now the field could finally say it had people it knew would stay.

And like a field a child too needs love and constant care,

We should look after our children and not leave them in need of repair.

It takes a single person to start the change which can last a lifetime,

The time to make this change is now as right now is the right time