These are the lovely watch drawing for children, made by the kids attending the Dreamers workshop. Teachers are in a unique position to witness children struggling with grief.
Whether a student has lost a parent, sibling, grandparent, or another relative, or if the student is struggling with loss on a larger scale, he or she needs opportunities to express his or her feelings and learn about grief. This classroom activity—provided by New York Life Foundation in partnership with Scholastic—is designed to help educators support grieving students and help them find the vocabulary to communicate their feelings associated with grief. Review the book list at the bottom of the activity for more grief resources. For younger students, center conversations about grief around feelings of sadness. Ask students what types of situations make them sad. Record the reasons on the board.
Probable responses will be the loss of a pet or possibly a grandparent or a family member who has been forced to move away. Younger children may not yet have experienced death. You may also share a personal experience by telling about the loss of someone important to you. Tell students that grief is another word for a feeling of great sadness. Allow them to share feelings in their own words. Introduce the word grief around feelings of sadness. Ask students what they know about grief or sadness.
Discuss the reasons that people may feel grief. Be careful to keep your personal experience brief. The intention is to spark conversation, not overshadow the focus on the children’s thoughts and feelings. Ask students if they have read any stories or seen any movies that include a character losing someone close to them. Ask them to describe what happened to the characters when someone they loved died. In a televised segment, Katie Couric speaks with Dr. Jeanette Betancourt and Sesame Street’s Elmo about how children cope with grief.