Dear DCS – HR Families,
Over the past 48 hours my heart and mind has continued to focus off and on on the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. If I have been thinking about it, I’m sure many of you have been thinking about it too. So as we return to school Monday, I want you to know that we do not have any formal plans to address the tragedy with our students. I am assuming that you, on an age appropriate level, have had a conversation about the tragedy with your child(ren). We will strive to do our very best to support you and your child(ren) in every way we can over the next couple of days and beyond.
On Monday morning before school, I will be meeting with my staff. During this time we will pray together and we will discuss how we will be handling the next couple of days with our students. I will advise our staff that they are not to discuss any of the event details with our students. I feel that is up to the discretion of each individual family. I will also be encouraging our staff to be aware of students who may be dealing with some underlying grief. In the event that a student is in need of extra support, the staff member and I, along with our counselor Ben DeNooy, will provide the extra support needed. Please know, if your child does share some concerns or worries, we will let you know, so you are able to follow up with him or her at home.
Even in the wake of the tragedy, schools continue to be a very safe place for children on a daily basis. Please know that we are doing all we can to keep our school safe and secure. If our students mention school security, we will reassure our them that we have a very detailed and well thought out safety plan and that our doors are locked and secure.
Our focus over the next two and a half days is going to be on the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. We will work very hard at creating an atmosphere in our building that is full of joy, happiness and festivity.
Our prayers continue to go out to those who are suffering in Newtown, Connecticut. We know this world can be a cruel place. But Psalm 27 reminds us that we can conquer fear by using the bright liberating light of the Lord to bring salvation. Lord help us to trade all of our fears for faith in you. Our prayers will continue to be with those families.
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS:
Below are some conversational tips from Dr. Michele Borba (child expert) personally shared on her Twitter feed.
- Turn off the TV and media on the school shooting when kids are present. Image can negatively impact children regardless of your zip code.
- Talk to the kids tonight or as soon as you see them. Open with “What have you heard?” Kids need the right facts. YOU not their peers provide the best source.
- Kids need to know it’s OK to share their feelings. It’s normal to be upset. Be calm and give only age appropriate information.
- Don’t give more information than the kid is ready to hear. More importantly, let your child know you’re there to listen.
- Don’t expect to help alleviate your kid’s anxiety unless you keep your own in check. Kids are calmer if we are calmer.
- Please don’t think because the child isn’t talking about the events that he/she didn’t hear about it.
- Give the information in small doses. Listen. Watch their response. Kids need processing time. Kids don’t need to know all the details and numbers. End with “I’m here for any questions you may have at anytime.”
- Here’s a great way to curb anxieties: Find pro-active ways to alleviate fears about the tragedy. Tonight, offer condolences, draw, write letters to victims as a family.
- Stick to family routines. This soothes the stress and helps kids know that despite tragedy, that the world goes on. The sun will come up tomorrow. Hug!
- Draw kids’ attention to heroism in the tragedy. Use police, teachers, doctors, etc so kids see the goodness in the heartbreak.
- Kids respond to tragic news differently. Let your child know their feelings are normal. Help he/she express them. Follow his/her lead.
- Keep ongoing dialogue. Don’t explain more than they are ready to hear. Kids process and will want more later.
- Talk to the kid about the tragedy in an age-appropriate way
- Assess kid coping skills
- Listen, give some information and listen some more
- Kindle hope that the world goes on
- Ask your teen: “What are your pals saying?” Don’t assume they are NOT affected. Ignite their social justice. “What could we do?”
- Plan what you’ll say to your kid about the tragedy to boost their confidence and calmness. It’s OK to say “I don’t know” or “Good question. Let me find out.”
A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope
Tips for Parents and Teachers
Talking to Children About Violence:
Tips for Parents and Teachers