Helping Children Cope: Teacher Resources for Talking About Tragedy
Teachers play a critical role in how children handle tragic events. Education World has compiled a list of Web sites to help teachers discuss tragedy with students. Included: Links to Web resources for helping children cope with crisis.
Jan Jewell is a teacher at Cheyenne Middle School in Oklahoma City. She and her students have had experience dealing with acts of terror. The bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City is a memory her students live with every day.
As news broke about the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., Jewell's students first wanted to know why some kids were being picked up by their parents and why those parents felt afraid, Jewell said. With students who were left behind, "We talked about fearing things over which we had no control," said Jewell. "Then we talked about not giving into fear because then they [the terrorists] win. We talked about channeling our feelings into thinking about what we could do to help. We talked about how everyone responded to us when our federal building was bombed."
Eventually, the students turned their energies to talking about ideas, Jewell continued. "We could make cards," the students suggested. "We could write letters "
The resources below will help teachers discuss tragedy, ease students' fears, and assist teachers in identifying children who may need additional help in coping with difficult events. The resources include ideas for talking with students of all ages and getting students to direct their energies into discussing and writing about their feelings.
Talking to Our Children About Violence and Terrorism
The Center for Social and Emotional Education has put together resources for both professionals and parents. Focusing on empathy and social skills, these resources walk through discussion points with children to encourage social and emotional growth.
Helping America Cope
This updated guide contains information and activities to help children cope with the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The guide is designed for use with children six to 12 years of age; however, many of the activities have effectively been adapted for use with older children.
About Our Kids
This Web site includes resources such as a school manual with practical steps for recognizing the anniversary of September 11 and
Tips for Talking About Disasters
This Web page from the Center for Mental Health Services includes resources such as How to Help Children After a Disaster, After a Disaster: What Teens Can Do, and After a Disaster: A Guide for Parents and Teachers.
Helping Our Children in Difficult Times
PBS offers this tip sheet for parents and teachers. The printable sheet (Adobe Acrobat required) features Arthur, the popular children's book character.
Helping Children Deal With Scary News -- Thoughts from Fred Rogers
These tips are from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and PBS.
Crisis and Loss: Information for Educators
This 20-page booklet covers crisis management and intervention.
Crisis Intervention Manual
How do children of different ages process death? This resource from The School Psychologists' Home Page offers a guide to children's reactions. This resource also includes a poem, "The Elephant in the Room," about the difficulty of talking about death; tips for being a supportive adult; and a tip sheet that can be sent home to parents to help them talk with their children about death.
How to Teach Children About Living in a World with Violence
Scholastic provides this seven-step activity guide for teaching kids about violence.
Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters
Tips for helping children and adolescents respond to trauma and crisis from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Talking With Kids About War
Alvin Poussaint, M.D., and Susan Linn, Ed.D., put together this resource for The Learning Network.
Disaster: Helping Children Cope
This is a handout for parents from the National Association of School Psychologists.
Helping Students Deal With Violence
This up-to-date list of resources comes from MidLink Magazine.
Disaster Resource Center
A resource from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
How to Help Children After a Disaster: A Teacher's Guidebook
This is a resource from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Helping Children Understand the Terrorist Attacks
This resource from the U.S. Department of Education includes Suggestions for Educators: Meeting the Needs of Students.
Children of September 11
This children's page of the Families of September 11 Web site includes links to resources for teachers.
Death: A Personal Understanding
This ten-program series on death and dying includes two programs that can be of immediate use to teachers and administrators: "Sudden Death" and "A Child's View of Death." "Sudden Death" has a special focus on unexpected disaster through terrorism and uses the Oklahoma City bombing to show how we can helpfully respond to traumatic grief. "A Child's View of Death" focuses on how children handle the deaths of those close to them, their own sense of mortality, and how adults can support children.
September 11th: One Day and Forever
Tips for helping kids handle their feelings about 9/11 from the PBS show It's My Life.
All Kids Grieve
Among the online resources included here are sections on children's literature related to grief, using poetry to promote healing and personal growth, and a Kids Art & Poetry Exhibit.
When Tragedy Strikes: What Schools Should Do
Tragedies happen. Children and parents die. Teens commit suicide. Teachers must face their students after the unthinkable happens. Education World talks to educators and psychologists who have helped students and teachers deal with death, suicide, and murder. Included: Tips for teachers and administrators for handling the death of a student.
Last updated 12/3/2015
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