In the months after a disaster or traumatic event, focus tends to turn to rebuilding physical structures (like buildings and schools) and the goal of everything and everyone ‘returning to normal’.
As communities and people resume their usual routines, there can be great opportunities to come together and support each other. , if you or children at your school are still experiencing difficulty you can feel increasingly isolated rather than supported. It may feel sometimes like people are trying to forget what happened or don’t want to hear about what you are feeling.
The reality is that even if you don’t see it, many people around you are still dealing with what happened and may have difficulties for some time. As much as everyone is trying their best to move forward, this doesn’t mean the event isn’t still affecting them and their families.
It is normal to experience numerous effects from a traumatic experience for a long time after it happens, even years. As communities and people resume their usual routines, there can be great opportunities to come together and support each other.
Educators play a challenging but crucial role in helping communities get back on their feet. Schools can represent a place of consistency and familiarity when lots of other things in children’s lives have changed or are still changing. Research shows that getting back to routine helps both adults and children, and educators are in a unique position to monitor children over time to see if they are doing okay, and to help inform parents about their child’s wellbeing.
Mister Rogers, a children’s television host in America, once explained to his audience what his mother used to tell him as a child when he saw scary things on the news:
‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words and am always comforted by realising that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.
Educators are one of the key groups of helpers who help children feel safe and recover well after a traumatic event. Even things you consider too small to matter can help children feel better after big changes in their life.