Many of us in Texas have been or know families affected by recent hurricanes, storms, and tornadoes. After individuals experience a natural disaster, it is common to feel fearful and anxious. Living through a dangerous situation such as a storm, flood, hurricane, earthquake and tornado, may require extended time for children, adults, and communities to heal and recover. Damage to familiar environments such as homes and schools can also lead to a sense of detachment and insecurity. However, schools and teachers will serve an important role by providing support and most importantly, continuing routines that reinforce a sense of normalcy. Together as a community, we recover. In an effort to provide resources for educators to use with children in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, a collection of lesson plans was developed by instructional experts and child psychologists at the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) at the McGovern Medical School, a part of UTHealth Houston. These lessons are designed for use by classroom teachers, education specialists, social workers, administrators, and other trusted adults who work with children. Teachers and other trusted adults are paramount in creating a safe and welcoming space for students at the beginning of any school year, but are particularly important this year as students may be experiencing and processing many different emotions related to natural disasters. These lessons are linked to popular children’s books that many teachers may already possess, or they can readily purchase commercially. These lessons are designed for use with children from early childhood through the primary grades (pre-kindergarten to grade 2).
In addition to the lessons above, CLI recorded a brief webinar to support teachers working in communities affected by Harvey. This 30-minute presentation discusses tips for returning to school, the importance of self-care, suggestions for activities, and responsive teaching practices.