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How Schools Can Help Kids Heal After A Year Of 'Crisis And Uncertainty' (


This pandemic has been stressful for millions of children like Kai. Some have lost a loved one to COVID-19, and many families have lost jobs, their homes and even reliable access to food. If that stress isn't buffered by caring adults, it can have lifelong consequences.

"Kids have had extended exposure to chaos, crisis and uncertainty," says Matt Biel, a child psychiatrist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

"If kids don't return to school and get a lot of attention paid to security, safety, predictability and re-establishing of strong, secure relationships, [they] are not gonna be able to make up ground academically," Biel says.

At Hernandez Middle School in Chicago, teacher Lilian Sackett starts off each day by checking in with students, then diving into a short lesson on mindfulness and other social-emotional skills.

"We need to allow the students to share their experiences with the pandemic and to give them that safe space [to] talk about it," Sackett says.

Sackett says her approach was informed by a virtual training, provided by Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, that focused on the impacts of trauma on children.

"They mentioned a bad grade is never about a lazy kid," she says. If a child is struggling academically, they may be dealing with really tough circumstances at home. Sackett learned that teachers can help by creating a supportive environment that fosters resilience.

To read more of Christine Herman and Cory Turner's article, please click here.

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