My daughter came home from school in a funk on Friday. She wanted to sit in her father's chair, which we keep in the living room. She was anxious and stressed out after dinner. She wanted a lot of hugs.
As I tucked her into bed Friday night, we chatted about why she'd been so out of sorts.
"We talked about 9/11 a lot at school today."
This is something she's been saying off and on for the past week.
I appreciate that her teachers want their students to understand the gravity of this historical event that occurred when their students were preschoolers. I just hope they also understand that they are deliver the message to children who may have experienced a more tangible loss, one with emotions that are easily accessed when you talk about the lives lost that day.
As part of their series on 9/11, CNN has an excellent piece of Grief and Children that talks about the 3,000 children who lost parents that day. The article shares some great information about a the statistics of loss for children.
According to the National Alliance for Grieving Children, more than one in seven young Americans, before reaching the age of 20, will lose either a parent or sibling.
Educators need to be aware of how plausible it is that a child sitting in their classroom may have lost a loved one when they discuss such heavy topics. It doesn't mean you need to exclude them, but be sensitive. Watch that child's expressions, offer support for them in addition to the in-class discussion, and consider your approach to the subject. Check in with the child's family ahead of time to make sure the manner in which you're covering the material won't be an issue for the child, if at all possible.