I’m sure many of you have a heavy heart as I do because of the shooting. Instead of feeling helpless, I’m going to try and be proactive and suggest some activities for Monday. I am no psychologist, but I remember reading an article after 9/11 and these are some of the things they recommended.
Class Discussion – "Boys and girls, something very sad happened last Friday. What do you know about it?" Don’t tell them your adult version, but listen openly to everything they have to say. They might not have all the details right, but it is important they have the opportunity to express what they are feeling. There might be questions about heaven or death. One way to respond might be to turn the question around and say, “What do you think?”
Art – Provide children with paper, crayons, markers, paints, and other media to draw what happened on Friday. Have them dictate or write stories to go with their pictures.
Empower – I think it’s important to empower children and brainstorm what they would do if something like that happened at your school. We don’t want them to feel helpless or hopeless. Even if their ideas seem silly to you, accept them. You might even want to role play what they would do in an emergency.
Reassure – Remind them that you LOVE them and you are NOT going to let anybody or anything hurt them! Your classroom is a “safe place” where you will take care of each other.
Kinder and Gentler – Express your feelings as well. It’s O.K. to be sad. Explain that when you are sad it helps to be a little kinder and gentler to other people. How can they be kind and gentle to each other?
Distraction – Children need to express their thoughts, but we don’t need to dwell on the negative. Sing, dance, read some funny stories, and try to add a little sunshine to your day!