Remember, we are teachers, not guidance counselors, not parents, priests or psychologists. Find out who to talk to - on your student's behalf. I think, as teachers, we must remember to respect the children's feelings, as well as the parent's spiritual beliefs. During the aftermath of dealing with a family who had lost a child, I had disclosures from students who have families involved in terrorist activities.
A principal in Toronto opened up a school to her families on Dec. 27th (2/3 of her student population were of Sri Lankan descent) and she let the children come in and play with friends, play games in the gym, whilst the parents went to temple to pray and deal with their grief.
Kids do not need to be reminded of it. Kids may or may not be affected by it. They just want to be kids. It may be fairly removed from them, it may not. The parents must take the lead in helping kids through the grieving process and teachers must respect this process.
During Ice Storm '98 (10 days in my community without power!) we talked about it, wrote about it, dealt with it.
We wrote pretend letters to relatives about what we had felt and what we faced. it was healthy. As with Play Therapy with younger students, my gr. 6s were able to face fears, express fears. Younger kids can, and will, express fears in their play. Listen to them.
During the aftermath of 9/11, very few kids were directly involved. Those who were involved, as with kids who are going through bitter family divisions, found school to be a place of sanctuary. They found school to be a place where everything was "normal" and they could just be kids.
1. Talk about your feelings. Have them tell their story about as much as you want. Draw pictures, create poems, write letters.
2. Make a fear box. Cut out pictures from newspapers and magazines about their fears, paste around the box. Write down a list of fears and put it inside.
3. Create a worry list. Make a list of your worries from 1 to 5. Number 1 is the biggest. Talk about this list with someone you trust. Your mom, your sister, your guidance counselor, or your friend.
4. Help others. Give food, clothing, or toys to people that need it. Suggest that your school family donates money to a related cause.
5. Put a flag outside your house. It helps remind us we are all working together.
6. Remember that we have all survived a traumatic experience.
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