Student's mom died over summer

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by jessiiteach, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    Aug 19, 2012

    At meet-the-teacher night I learned that one of my students lost her mother over the summer. I feel like I have to scratch most of my first week lesson plans (getting to know each other stuff) because I don't want to trigger her sadness by having the students talk about their families, when I know all the other students will bring up their own moms.

    How would you handle this? I am in freak out mode because I am scrambling to find new activities.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 19, 2012

    Don't scrap your plans...the student will share what she is comfortable with...maybe decrease the number of 'family' types of sharing and slant more toward hobbies, favorites, strengths...
    :hugs: to you for being so empathetic!
     
  4. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    Aug 19, 2012

    So sad! This poor little girl must be feeling lost and confused. I wouldn't scratch anything. You never know, it might be therapeutic for her to talk about her mom. Do you know how she died? This might make a difference in whether she wants to talk about it.
     
  5. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Aug 19, 2012

    Maybe don't just make it about things that have happened over the summer, talk more about things they've done in the past school year, past summer, etc. Since you're getting to know them for the first time, they can share anything about their lives, not just this previous summer. That way if she wants to share something she doesn't just have to focus on what was probably an extremely difficult summer.
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Aug 19, 2012

    I agree with this.
     
  7. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Aug 19, 2012

    I like this idea. Last year one of my student's mother passed away very suddenly just a few weeks before Mother's Day. She continued to talk about her mom a lot through the end of the year and I encouraged her to. We had already changed Mother's Day crafts to special people several years ago and I altered the few things that were still "mom" to be more neutral. I would however, preview your beginning of school books a lot seem to focus on mom dropping you off for school/taking care of you.
     
  8. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Aug 19, 2012

    I had a student in the same situation a few years ago. The family talk is difficult, so I tried to keep it to a minimum. We would talk about the larger family picture (grandparents, cousins, etc.), and not just "mom and dad." She did cry a few times, and I would have her older sister's teacher send her down to our classroom to make her feel better. (Not sure which grade you teach-this was kindergarten.) There will be tough moments, and it was difficult for me to keep it together, too. Poor things. :(
     
  9. jenneke607

    jenneke607 Rookie

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    Aug 20, 2012

    Grieving is a different process for everyone. One variable is how well this student knows her classmates. I lost my mother at a young age, and I always found it more difficult to broach the topic with new people. It is uncomfortable to have something that arouses so much pity act as a defining feature, simply because not much else is known. Some children will get sad when they hear others talk of their nuclear families, and others will experience more anxiety at the thought of having to put this difference 'on display.' It's one of the reason I did something similar to what Tasha described, celebrating special people and family members rather than highlighting the mother/father, particularly when I had students with deceased or absent parents, or students in the foster care system. I have also found that students are more likely to connect with others based on interests and hobbies rather than family structures. (Most kids are not interested in befriending someone JUST because they have the same number of siblings, but a shared interest in legos or iCarly or whatever can do it.)

    Feel free to reach out to the father again: let him know that you are feeling sensitive to the situation because you want his daughter to feel as comfortable at school as possible. Express that you hope that he is feeling supported during this time of transition -- he's grieving, too! I know my father appreciated hearing from our teachers that they were doing their best to put us at ease while allowing all children to celebrate their homes and backgrounds.
     
  10. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Aug 20, 2012

    Please let your guidance counselor know so that you can both use her as a support.
     
  11. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Aug 20, 2012

    Aww poor girl :(

    Maybe instead of talking specifically about last summer, ask about their favorite things to do in the summer? You can also play games like two truth and one lie so they get to know each other better but don't need to mention families.
     
  12. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Aug 20, 2012

    I would say don't ignore the fact that it happened, but don't be pushy with it either. I know my friends mom died right before summer break, she went in to tell her classmates because she wanted to be the one to tell them she was in 3rd grade!!! There were definately times they wanted to talk, times when they are angry & want to be angry at someone and other times when they keep to themselves. So if you want to change a few things to make her feel more comfortable then I would do that, but I woudn't put the whole thing to the side... if it's a smaller school chances are the community already knows....
     
  13. ShellyAve

    ShellyAve Rookie

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    Aug 21, 2012

    That is heartbreaking. That poor girl :( I wouldn't change your plans but focus more on the students. Ask what their interests are, what they want to be when they grow up, what their favorite subjects are, things like that.
     

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