On the first full day of school since the national tragedy in Newtown, New York State Education Commissioner John King advised local superintendents and principals to be on the lookout students or staff who might be struggling in the aftermath.
“It is important in the coming days and weeks to listen to your students’ concerns and reassure them when they ask questions, and encourage parents to do the same,” King wrote. “ I trust your judgment and wisdom to lead your staff and students through this difficult time.”
Here, in Districts like Mamaroneck, school administrators have shared suggestions for helping younger children, such as:
-When talking to your children, give them a chance to voice their fears and answer their questions honestly, patiently and in a developmentally appropriate way. This is very important for children struggling to process a disturbing experience of terrifying disruption in their lives.
-Stay calm- Children take their “cues” from the adults in their lives (parents, teachers, etc.) and kids don’t need adults to telegraph their fears on to them.
-Expect your children to come back again and again with questions as they build a narrative about what happened. Remember, it is a series of conversations, not just one sit-down.
-Make your children feel safe and continue with your regular routines. Security and predictability gives children reassurance and confidence while allowing them to be kids.
-Keep an eye on your children and be sure to listen in to their conversations with others. Be alert to signs that may indicate your children are struggling and may not be recovering in a healthy way – changes in their patterns of sleep or eating, unusual irritability or trouble focusing, obsessive or pervasive worry.
Most schools have made arrangements for counselors to be available if needed.
Should Westchester schools ramp up security? Please leave your comments.