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Supporting schools to keep migrant and primary school children with Developmental Trauma nervously regulated enough to learn

Project reference
Co-Fund-EU logo

The Mi Window project was designed to increase awareness in school communities of the unconscious effects of Developmental Trauma (trauma which occurred under the age of 7), on the behaviour of primary school students. Developmental Trauma comes from a myriad of adverse circumstances impacting very young children as they develop, including, significantly, the need to migrate.

A developmentally trauma-triggered primary school student does not have access to the part of their brain responsible for the retention of learning, so they cannot learn until they feel safe and calmer in their bodies, i.e. are nervously regulated. What is more, they are not aware they are triggered because the memory of Developmental Trauma is stored in the unconscious mind.

By putting the school at the core of an awareness-raising effort to teach the unconscious impact of Developmental Trauma on the behaviour of primary school children, the Mi Window Project enables school management, teachers, parents and children to increase their knowledge and awareness of the effects of Developmental Trauma, and to develop the skill to spot and compassionately respond to trauma-associated behaviour in the classroom and school.


Why a focus on migrant children

Migrant children will be unavoidably traumatised to some degree by the many experiences that lead up to and occur post-migration, such as separation from family, friends and familiar people and places to escape violence, poverty or war.

According to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division, there were 965,006 migrant children aged between 0 and 4 registered in Europe in 2019 and a further 1,629,426 aged between 5 and 8. These figures increase daily. This fact needs to be acknowledged and responded to in a manner which empowers schools, teachers, youth and community workers, educational psychologists, parents and children with information and techniques to understand Developmental Trauma and its consequences.

Project Aim

Mi Window sets out to create developmentally trauma-informed communities by working with schools and supported by organisations that have experience delivering projects that address the needs of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups.

The Mi Window project supports teachers in identifying, responding and addressing behavioural problems in the classroom caused by Developmental Trauma. It teaches school management, teachers, parents and primary school children to respond to Developmental Trauma according to current best practice psychological and neuroscientific research and how to keep primary school students nervously regulated enough to learn.

Mi Window Outputs

To achieve this objective, the Mi Window project partners have worked together to co-design and co-create five highly innovative products for teachers and other allied professionals working to support vulnerable children.

Together, these products will help to engage and provoke self-reflection in school communities which support them to keep migrant and primary school children safe and nervously regulated enough to learn.

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    Online Digital Database of Developmental Trauma Awareness resources and Parasympathetic (Nervously Regulating) Activities for Learning

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    Developmental Trauma Training Curriculum and Theoretical and Pedagogical Basis

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    Developmental Trauma eLearning Course with Developmental Trauma Awareness Certification

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    Entry-level set of Guides to Developmental Trauma for Schools, Teachers and Parents

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    The My Map illustrated animation and worksheets for Primary School Students


Partnering with schools: Creating a safe environment for dealing with Developmental Trauma.

The memories associated with Developmental Trauma are stored in the autonomic nervous system, the same part of the nervous system responsible for automatic responses like breathing and heart rate. The trauma memory is stored there because children under seven do not have the language or mental capacity to make sense of their suffering.

When a person with Developmental Trauma’s autonomic nervous system identifies, without their conscious awareness, that a distressing experience from the past potentially could reoccur, it will trigger a set of survival behaviours, which often can create friction in the present day, particularly in primary school classrooms.


For this reason, school management, teachers, parents, youth workers, educational psychologists, and even innovatively, the school children themselves can learn to;

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    Recognise what it feels and looks like to be trauma triggered or nervously dysregulated in freeze, fawn, fight and flight response

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    Understand that when we are nervously dysregulated or trauma-triggered, the part of the brain used for learning is offline, so we can’t learn

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    Realise what a nervously regulating activity is and identify which nervously regulating activities they find most comforting

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    Consider what environmental factors may have provoked their nervous dysregulation or developmental trauma-triggering, e.g. a loud noise or a crowd situation, and to take steps or make coping strategies to minimise the effects of future triggering

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    Understand that the behaviour of every human, bar none, is driven unconsciously by the perception we created of the world around us during our developmental period, under 7

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    Recognise that a nervously dysregulated person cannot nervously regulate a nervously dysregulated person

Our Partners

The Mi Window project team comprises partners from across
Europe and the UK.

Aspire Education Group Ltd (ASPIRE), UK

A UK-based hub of consultants and educators who strive to think globally and act locally with key influencers and organisations in the UK, Europe and Africa. ASPIRE develops and coordinates strategic, technical partnership programmes, which adopt a systems approach for successful educational and enterprise outcomes in emerging sectors for vulnerable learners, communities, women and the workforce.

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Asociación La Bien Pagá Espacio Escénico (LBP), Spain

LBP is an association to support the socio-educational integration and cultural inclusion of people with fewer opportunities and vulnerable groups through culture and arts. It runs its own theatre space specialising in liberation theatre and works with children, youth and adults.

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InstitutoPara El Fomento Del Desarrollo Y La Formacion SL (INFODEF), Spain

INFODEF is a private and independent centre forresearch, development, and innovation that designs and delivers projects thatcontribute to sustainable and inclusive development through education, cultureand innovation.

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InnoqualitySystems Ltd (INQS), Ireland.

INQS provide policy and program services to supportpositive student and teacher outcomes in early childhood, primary,postsecondary, VET and adult education and support learning across a lifetime.

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A non-governmental, non-profit organisation active inSocial Inclusion, Mental Health and De-institutionalisation, which activelyparticipates in psychiatric reforms promoted by the Ministry of Health andSocial Solidarity and the European Union. Its main objective is to providepsychosocial support and education to people at risk of exclusion and adultlearners in the humanitarian field.

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KIST Consult (KIST), Austria

KIST Consult specialises in development, marketing andtransfer of national and international educational, vocational education andtraining projects. They aim to build a bridge between the economy and educationto form lasting, demand-orientated networks between cooperative partners.Moreover, they offer solutions within the Human Resources Development sector.

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İstanbul Valiliği/ Governorship of Istanbul (GOI) Türkiye

The governorship of Istanbul (İstanbul Valiliği-GOI) is the highestadministrative authority in the city, with approximately 300 civil servantsproviding service in various fields. GOI oversee a wide range of Directorates,including the Provincial Directorates of National Education, Youth Services andSports, Migration Administration, Health, Family and Social Policies, SocialStudies and Projects, Social Security, Disaster and Emergency  and the Regional Directorates of CivilRegistry, Citizenship, and Migration Administration which will addsignificantly to the impact of the Mi Window project in Turkey.

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