The devastating attack on Ukraine in recent weeks has been difficult for many adults to attempt to comprehend, and it can be even more challenging for young children and teens to process their thoughts and feelings during this time. Some of your learners may be experiencing the effects of the war on their families, and many may have questions about the conflict.
How and if you address the Russo-Ukrainian War in class will depend on your teaching expertise, comfort level, and learners. If you teach older children, a topic related to government or civics, or classes on processing emotions, it may be appropriate for you to give a deeper response to questions about the war or even open class with an acknowledgment that we’ve all been hearing painful stories on the news and are thinking of Ukrainian families.
Keep these guidelines in mind if you do choose to address the conflict in your classroom:
- Acknowledge that the news from Ukraine may be causing pain for some people in class, and we should be respectful of others’ thoughts and feelings.
- If you start a discussion, allow it to be learner-led. Act as a facilitator to keep dialogue appropriate for your age group and class topic.
- Provide context when possible with honest, factual, and age-appropriate answers.
- Avoid simple answers to complex questions. It’s okay to say “I’m not sure,” or “That’s a big question with a complicated answer. I don’t think we can answer it in class today.”
- Encourage learners to talk to their parents or other trusted adults about their feelings outside of class.
- Remember that some kids may see their Outschool time as an escape from the news, so consider focusing on creating a class experience that allows them to find joy and relief.
We also encourage you to explore these resources on teaching about difficult topics or current events.
- Teaching Difficult Topics Outschool Webinar hosted by Michael Soberman
- When Bad Things Are Happening from Learning for Justice
- Head, Heart, & Conscience Teaching Strategy from Facing History and Ourselves
- How to Talk to Children About the War in Ukraine from UNICEF
- For older learners, The Ukraine Crisis News Lesson from Brown University
- Teaching Resilience in a Time of War from the American Psychological Association
How educators can support families displaced by the war in Ukraine
Outschool.org is giving members of the educator community the opportunity to amplify the impact of a financial donation to humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine. Our non-profit arm will be matching donations made by Outschool educators to these organizations dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000. Parents of learners may also choose to donate to the International Rescue Committee at checkout for their donation to be matched.
To learn more and submit your donation receipt to be matched, please visit this page. For more background on Outschool.org’s mission and our efforts to support Ukrainian families, we encourage you to read this post on the Outschool blog.
And finally – don’t forget about leaving space for your own emotional process. Caring for your mental and physical health is how you’re able to show up and give 100% to your learners. While we ask that you give advance notice for any classes you may need to cancel, we acknowledge that educators may need extra support during this time, and we’re here for you.