A formative experience of my own education was watching the events of September 11th unfold in my 5th grade classroom. The whole world stopped. I didn’t know what was true and what was a rumor. I wondered if I might be taken to a concentration camp because I am Jewish. Typically, I could turn to the adults around me for guidance, but on that day nobody had answers and everyone was scared.
Our current political environment is invoking similar feelings. Parents and teachers are wondering how they can best help their children process what is unfolding in front of them and prevent them from being traumatized.
Here are some suggestions you may find helpful:
1. Create space for the child to ask any questions they have.
2. Ask the child how they are feeling and what they are thinking about what they have seen and heard.
3. Help the child sort fact from fiction with respect to their understanding of what happened.
4. Empower the child by brainstorming ways they can be part of the solution.
5. Remain sensitive to the individual needs of the child, including underlying mental health disabilities and membership to vulnerable population groups.
The attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 is an excellent learning opportunity for all of us about emotional regulation, citizenship, and inequality. Education on these topics is more critical than ever to grow members of society that will not repeat the mistakes of our past.
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