War Impacts Preschool Students -
Current events and behavior changes
A preschool teacher asked collegues on the Teachers.Net Early Childhood Chatboard:
I have been wondering if any of you have observed differences in your children's behavior in the past week? I teach at a school where the children are military dependents (4/5 year olds) and I have a class of 25 that is predominately male. I have not said anything about the war as of yet due to the fact that their parents are military. But I have noticed that the boys have been 'bombing' things during outside play, and today while inside, they brought me the globe and asked where Iraq was.
I would love to hear from other teachers who are teaching military children. Or anyone who has talked about current events with their class.
I really don't have any military kids in my class, so our situation is a lot different.
I've had comments here and there about it. One child, just out of the blue, said, "Did you know we are in a war now?" Another child said something the exact opposite as far as his knowledge of the situation goes: "I like watching the news, but I haven't watched it in a while."
As far as Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc. goes, I have some K students that, while doing the Asia map, comment, "I've heard of those places."
I just try to keep it low key. If they want to talk about it to me outside of group time, that's fine. But I don't think it's my job to interfere by telling them about it unless they bring it up, since it might be something the parents do not want the children to worry about.
As far as the play with bombings, etc., I wish I had a non- political answer :) It is important that children be able to act out these things in a safe and playful environment, but that might [anger] a lot of parents. So play it by whatever rules you decide to stick by.
I haven't noticed anything out of the "ordinary" yet, but we've been off this week for Spring break. I belong to another website that had an article on the importance of keeping the TV and radio news off. Even though we cannot change what's happening in the world, we can keep our HOMES safe. They suggested listening to music, playing fun games, baking cookies- -anything to make our homes feel safe and secure. I think adults forget what little children can hear. I know I've had to talk to my husband more than once about watching the news coverage on TV. I refuse to have it on during the day, but he turns it on at night. I've heard that even some "family style" restaurants are viewing the news coverage on their TVs.
Many of my students come from the part of the world that we are now seeing on our t.v.'s daily. Because of this, my class as a whole is far more aware of the war than most 4 year olds are or should be, probably because it's being discussed and watched at home so closely. We were sent an e-mail from the superintendent detailing how we should handle the situation in the classroom. I had several students absent this week. Yesterday one came back and when I asked him where he had been he said, "Watching the war on t.v." as if it were cartoons! Another very astute little boy came in on Monday and said "Did you know that there is a war now?" He asked if the tanks and bombs would be coming to Dallas! I have noticed that many of my students are talking more about tanks and bombs. Of course it doesn't help that we are doing our transportation unit now.
I am currently writing an article on Helping Children Cope with War and it will be up on my website in about two weeks. It deals with 8 ideas to share with parents, especially those who have a loved one in the military. Three are as follows:
Continue normal family routines and schedules by taking one day at a time. Simplify your life by removing unnecessary stresses. For example, put some projects aside, decline extra responsibilities like being an officer in an organization, and take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, exercise, and by eating well. Provide yourself and your child opportunities to do enjoyable things like participating in recreational activities, playing games, taking walks, reading together, etc. Speak in hopeful terms, and as much as possible model calmness and stability.
Watch the news only once a day and do not insist that the children watch. If your child becomes upset by a news report, take time to process his or her thoughts and feelings. You may want to listen to or watch news reports when the child is not present. In addition, realize that cartoons and other shows that glorify violence can have a negative impact upon your child's sense of security. Also, if your child is within hearing distance, be careful what you say to others in person or on the phone.
Do not make promises that you cannot keep. Avoid saying things like, "Everything will be fine," or "Your mom (dad, relative) will not get hurt." Instead say, "I don't know what will happen, but I will do everything I can to keep you safe." Or, "We can deal with anything because we care for one another."
This is a tad off subject, but I was driving along with my seven year-old grandson in the back seat. We were joking about something and I remarked, "What is this world coming to?" I heard his voice quietly reply, "An end."
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