Cambrian School District Superintendent Message, 01.07.21
Dear Cambrian Families,
A fundamental responsibility of public education in this country is to teach students the tenets of our democracy and the principles of the Constitution and the Republic. The events that took place at our nation’s Capitol building yesterday are not a reflection of these principles, our nation or our community.
We know that witnessing these events may lead to opening up or responding to a discussion with students. The following provides guidance on how to talk with youth during a teachable moment associated with social unrest or tragedy.
- Try to be in charge of what and how your child learns about the event. Depending upon the age of your child, it is a good idea to limit children’s exposure to traumatic news stories and images. Older children might use social media to communicate with their friends about events. It is important to monitor their interpretation of what is happening around them.
- When exposure is unavoidable, provide basic information about what happened at an age-appropriate level. Brief, basic facts are typically appropriate for younger children, while older children and teens may have more questions. Don’t overwhelm young children with too much information, but be sure to address questions as they arise.
- Do not assume that the child’s worries and questions are the same as your own. Each child will understand and react differently. This will vary to some extent with age or developmental level, personality and pre-existing anxiety, and the manner in which the information is presented.
- Use open-ended statements and questions such as “Tell me what you know” and “What questions do you have?” rather than “Do you understand what happened?” and “Do you have any questions?” This will help you get a better sense of the child’s understanding, worries and desire for more information. Adults and students will have differing opinions about the “right” or “wrong” of events happening around them.
Here are a few possible responses when students want your opinion:
“We need to work for peace in our community.”
“I want you to be safe.”
“What can we do in the community to make sure we all get along?”
“We need to make sure everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”
- Acknowledge the events in a calm way and provide reassurance about the child’s own safety and security. Be honest – don’t tell children something “could never happen” here, or to them – but minimize anxiety. Focus your ability and efforts to keep them safe from harm.
- Monitor your own emotions. Exposure to devastating news is upsetting and overwhelming for adults.
- It is natural to be emotional at times. However, children look to their parents and other significant adults for a sense of whether or not things are okay. Parents often serve as a child’s barometer regarding their own safety and security. It is important for parents to manage their own stress levels and reassure children that everything will be okay.
Yesterday’s events are a teachable moment. Our school district staff is prepared to address students' questions and concerns in the coming days, and our hope is that a meaningful, thoughtful discussion may bring about engaging learning opportunities. We stand as your partner during this historic circumstance.