Trauma-Informed Practices Amongst Early Childhood Indigenous Students

Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2021

Document Type

Project Abstract (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Keri DeSutter


Abstract: Trauma-Informed Practices Amongst Early Childhood Indigenous Students Linda Bajan

There is a significant gap in achievement, graduation rates, and special education referrals with First Nations Students. It was believed that more intervention, more services, more whatever was the answer. The problem is that these assume a population without skills or ability, which is simply not the case. Given the current educational reality of American Indian populations (e.g., ignoring needs, high drop-out rates, and high special education referrals), schools need to implement practices that are culturally-informed and that address the on-going trauma American Indian students are facing. These types of practices have the potential to positively impact the achievement and overall success of American Indian students. As we learn, the strategies to go against the tide of trauma and attrition are found in culturally-informed methods. From reservation legislation forcing entire people groups onto reservations, centuries of disease and war, onset of addiction from the introduction of alcohol, boarding schools, and many other factors, the First Nations peoples of Minnesota have a history of trauma. Its effects are significant, especially as families and communities struggle to ensure healthy child development and a positive outlook at education models. Greater than the trauma is the great lack of awareness that Indigenous students do thrive in a learning model that is hands-on and supports their cultural traditional learning methodology. Schools that embrace a holistic awareness of how to be supportive of all children, through communication practices, values, policies, and family involvement, these schools are having success. Indigenous students are one group that just really cannot fit in the traditional model box of learning. Culturally-informed teaching IS trauma-informed, as seen in successful settings. Strategies showing success include increasing parent involvement, community programming, and training non-Indigenous staff on best practices, culturally-informed communication, and the necessity for parent involvement in decision making.

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