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How Teachers Can Help


In the face of death, children seek answers and comfort from their caregivers and other adults in their lives. Yet many adults feel helpless in this role. In fact a recent bereavement survey from New York Life Foundation and the American Federation of Teachers found that, while 7 in 10 classroom teachers have students who have lost someone close to them in the past year, only 7 percent have ever received bereavement training. While teachers can't answer all the questions that children may have about death, they can help children better understand the grieving process. Read the expert advice in these articles to discover how you can support grieving children in your classroom. Click here for information on addressing a loss in the school community.

Video—Students and Grief: How to Deal With Loss in School
Death and grief will affect the lives of almost all children at some point, often leading to struggles with academic performance, social relationships, and behavior. In this webcast, childhood grief expert, pediatrician, and author Dr. David Schonfeld, M.D., and Chris Park, president of the New York Life Foundation, impart valuable advice on how educators and all other caring adults can best support grieving children—whether it's right after the loss or years later. View webcast. 

Communication: Ways to Make Contact and Keep It Going
Excerpted from The Grieving Student: A Teacher's Guide, by David Schonfeld, M.D., and Marcia Quackenbush, M.S., M.F.T., C.H.E.S.
A number of steps can help build a positive foundation for making contact with grieving children. This article highlights four steps that are helpful for teachers. Read more.

Support for Grieving Children—Communication: The Heart of the Work
Excerpted from The Grieving Student: A Teacher's Guide, by David Schonfeld, M.D., and Marcia Quackenbush, M.S., M.F.T., C.H.E.S.
Communication is the heart and soul of working with bereaved children and their families. When teachers help initiate the conversations, they help children gain the skills and confidence to continue talking with others. Read more.

Death and Loss: Helping Children Manage Their Grief
By Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D.
The loss of a loved one is like an earthquake that fractures our emotional landscape. Although death is the most permanent loss we face, there are other forms of loss that can be devastating as well. Read more.

Children and Loss: Helping Students Cope 
By Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D.
By the time a child is 10, he or she has created and maintained dozens of key relationships—with parents, siblings, friends, teachers, and more. When these relationships end, we often experience painful emotions. Teachers can help students cope with their feelings. Read more.

"I'm Not Going to Cry"
Between Teacher & Parent: Helping a Child Handle Grief

By Adele M. Brodkin, Ph.D.
Sarah wandered over to a nearby picnic table and sat by herself. She doesn't laugh at things that once would have gotten big giggles from her. This behavior had been very puzzling until an hour ago, when I learned that Sarah's grandpa had died suddenly during vacation. Read more.

"My Grandpa Died"
Between Teacher & Parent: How to Help Children Handle Grief

By Adele M. Brodkin, Ph.D.
Jimmy's behavior was not surprising. A week ago, he'd lost his beloved grandfather. I was thinking that he'd probably be dejected for a few days, when suddenly Jimmy jumped up, stuffed the toy ambulance in his pocket, and hurried over to Sam. In no time at all, the two 4-year-olds were building and laughing together. A short while later, however, Jimmy's sad mood returned. Read more.

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