Bella’s story

BY Bella| Posted March 31, 2022
Bella’s story

Bella* takes steps toward successful learning and education.

Bella and her parents were referred to OzChild’s Stepping Stones to School (SS2S) program by her kindergarten teacher. Five-year-old Bella was attending her second year of four-year-old kinder. Her parents had recently separated and Bella had been diagnosed with ADHD.

Struggling to recognise the emotions of other children and expressing empathy, Bella frequently used inappropriate language and was disruptive in the classroom – she also liked to pretend to be a dog.

Bella’s parents had differing parenting styles and behaviour management approaches and her mum, Linda* found it hard to implement and follow through with strategies.

The separation of her parents had no doubt influenced Bella’s behaviour and disrupted her attendance at kinder. Linda, and Bella’s dad Michael* had also disengaged from support services.

The SS2S facilitator conducted home visits working with Linda and Michael separately with Bella. While Bella appeared relaxed and attentive during each session she still exhibited a short concentration span and would use silly language in outbursts.

When Bella was with her mum she tended to get her own way and Linda would ignore her behaviours. Michael on the other was more confident in intervening letting Bella know when her behaviour was not acceptable. OzChild’s SS2S facilitator noticed at times both parents would become distracted walking away from Bella to complete jobs or make a cuppa, behaviours which Bella was likely picking up on leading to her own distraction and lack of concentration.

Bella constantly needed reminding to complete activities and was unable to stay seated or keep still.

Bella’s obsession with pretending to be a dog was of concern to the facilitator. In each session Bella continued to behave like a dog, greeting people on all fours, barking when she was spoken to, putting items in her mouth and licking.

The SS2S facilitator developed strategies with Michael and Linda to address Bella’s behaviours, providing them with ideas on ways to engage Bella in activities to improve her concentration and introduced family time activities so Bella felt connected to her mum and dad.

The focus of the facilitator’s work with Bella’s parents was on parenting styles, quality time and routines giving them the task of considering how this could impact Bella’s learning and wellbeing.

Linda and Michael began to focus on the time they spent with Bella, ensuring the activities they engaged in were child-focused and started to work on simple tasks such as sitting at a table, and listening to and following instructions.

Soon, Bella demonstrated she was able to concentrate long enough to play games and complete activities the facilitator provided. Linda and Michael began to see the positive impact the change in their parenting style was having on Bella and she started attending kindergarten regularly.

Linda and Michael knew Bella was not ready to attend school, but they were determined to work hard to ensure she didn’t repeat kinder again. They continued to engage with the SS2S facilitator and re-engaged in other health services, visiting the Paediatrication and seeing an Occupational Therapist.

Linda and Michael acknowledge they needed to work on themselves too and are now more focused than ever on Bella. They are proactive when interacting with Bella, focused on developing her reading and writing skills and managing her ADHD.

Bella spends less time pretending to be a dog and more time reading books, colouring and being a kid.

*names have been changed to protect identities

Stepping Stones to School

Stepping Stones to School is a collaborative, early childhood transition project which enhances relationships and connections between families and early years providers. The project improves outcomes for children and supports provider capacity, so that more children in the region have a positive transition to school experience.

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