I hope you’re feeling okay and that you are treating yourself gently as you continue to support your students, families, and coworkers. I’m sure that many of us had similar experiences today. Somehow, it helped to know that even though we were miles away from each other, we were all working together in support of our school families, and of each other.
Today was a busy, overwhelming day, but I do feel like we made a good beginning at helping our students feel safe and able to express and help themselves with their feelings. Unfortunately we had a two-hour delay because of snow this morning, so we ran out of time and didn’t get to three of our classrooms – two kindergartens and one first grade – even without any lunch, sitting down, or bathroom breaks! We will catch up with those classes plus do follow-up visits in the other classrooms and meet with kids as needed during the rest of the week.
Here are a couple of resources that we will use as we continue to support our students:
I Feel Safe (a book to reassure students that school is safe), is a 4-page coloring and reading book created by blogger and first grade teacher Jodi Southard from Fun-in-First, for her own students in response to the Sandy Hook shooting. It is appropriate for kindergarten and first grade, and is available as a free download.
Jenny is Scared: When Sad Things Happen in The World by Carol Shuman, is an honest and reassuring book that is perfect for situations in which a frightening and confusing event – a “bad thing”- has happened.
Jenny and her brother Sam are scared, because a “bad thing” has happened. They are not quite sure what it is, but they know that something is wrong – usual events have been cancelled, the news is on all the time, and adults are acting differently. They talk to their parents about their fear, and their parents encourage them to talk about their feelings, spend time with their pets, stick with their routines, and do other things to help themselves feel better. Jenny and Sam learn that all their feelings are okay and that it may be hard for them to concentrate in school for a while. They can choose whether they want to ask questions about the situation or not talk about it at all. They realize that spending time together, sticking with their routines, taking a break from TV news, and caring about others will help them feel better, even if there are still sad things in the world.
I bought Jenny is Scared a few years ago so that I would have it on hand just in case of a time like now. It is also useful for kids who are feeling scared or worried, about any situation in their lives. The fact that Jenny and Sam are responding to a public tragedy does not make it any less useful for kids who are struggling with more private issues. I think it is a must-have for every counselor’s shelf. It is best for grades 1-3, but is comforting for older and younger kids as well. It has a very positive ending, while still acknowledging that difficult feelings may still continue. Honestly, I felt reassured and uplifted myself when I reread it today.
Please keep nurturing yourself during this very difficult time as you give so much to so many others. I hope you can feel, as I do, the love and support from our generous and caring community of school counselors, educators, and other mental health providers. xxoo