Saturday, September 10, 2016

When Asked by Parents About September 11

It's the fifteenth anniversary of September 11, and as I have done since that original event, I respectfully requested that my Super Star families do what they can to prevent their youngest children needless worry this weekend.

Here's what I included in my weekly newsletter, advocating for my students, their families, and developmentally appropriate practice:

Several families have asked how kindergartners learn about the events of September 11, 2001.  In a nutshell, they don't.  Adults themselves have a very difficult time observing, processing, reacting to, and coping with the visceral and terrifying acts of violence, terrorism, and cruelty which our nation and society have had to endure.  It is in my opinion, inappropriate to expect four, five, and six year olds to see and consider the possibilities of such horrors happening to them, their family members, friends and neighbors.  When viewing or hearing what is now considered historical footage of planes crashing into buildings and people jumping to their deaths, children are unable to discern that the events aren't occurring in real time, in front of them.  Compounding the stress, confusion and anxiety for children are their parents' reactions when reliving the event.
As many of us have news sources available to us twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, please consider limiting your television time over the events of September 11 to after-bedtime hours.  Just as children learn about health, human development, and receive driving instruction when they are age-appropriate topics and lessons, students can learn about our nation's distant and recent history when they are developmentally and emotionally ready to do so in later grades.


Fifteen years ago, I was very fortunate that my Super Star families heeded my request to turn off their televisions and radios prior to school starting for the day.  NONE of my students had any idea what had happened, and it was our school's priority to protect them from the news as we prepared to handle the aftermath and form our responses to the questions we were going to be inevitably asked.  My Super Star families and I shared proposed responses to the kindergartners' anticipated questions with one another, and were able to maintain our students' perception that home and school were safe places.  They were an exceptional set of parents.

A friend once told me that he greatly respected all that teachers do, but that he didn't envy a very specific requirement of our job: we always have to have the right answer, the correct response, and be perfectly supportive of our students in every planned and spontaneous situation we encounter.  My school, my colleagues, and our families were up to the challenge on that life-changing day.

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