Talking with children about a major emergency
A guide to supporting your primary pupils and talking to them about distressing events in the news.
- Lesson plan
- Disasters and emergencies
How can primary teachers support children when shocking and distressing events appear in the news? There are no easy answers, but understanding, observation and compassion are important.
This resource presents guidance for teachers, informed by psychosocial practitioners at the British Red Cross. It also includes activities to help children explore their emotions following a traumatic event in the news.
Note: This guidance is for children learning about major emergencies indirectly. If they or someone they know were involved and you think they may be experiencing trauma, your local CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) might be able to help.
- have the opportunity to express themselves
- be reassured that it is normal to feel upset by the events
- be aware of who they can talk to if they need extra support.
1. Teacher guidance
Advice for teachers on how to approach the subject, reassure their pupils and how to recognise if they may need some extra support.
2. Classroom activity: How to help
Learners imagine that another child is upset. Create a mind map ideas of how they could help them and then create a role-play to practise.
3. Classroom activity: Coping strategies
Learners consider their own coping strategies and discuss with the group.
4. Plenary: Helpful notes
Learners complete the sentences to review the ideas and strategies for helping others and coping.
This resource was written by P J White of Alt62 and published in May 2017. It was reviewed and updated in November 2017.
The image of a teacher talking to a group of schoolchildren © Jonathan Banks/British Red Cross.