Each academic division is approaching the Ukraine-Russian conflict in age-/developmentally-appropriate ways.
Nursery School: The Nursery School teachers are listening to conversations in the classroom and on the playground and step in when they notice that a child might need support in processing the news and images they have heard or seen, alone or with their friends. We are mindful not to shut down any conversations and to answer any questions children might have. Providing our children with accurate and age-appropriate responses to their questions helps them feel more in control of the situation. And, in possibly our most significant role, we are mindful to reassure our children that they are safe and loved. School Counselor Julianne Reilly shared a helpful resource that we are passing on to you here to help discuss the Ukraine invasion with our children.
Lower School: In the Lower School, there are wide-ranging possibilities for student interaction with current events. In the younger grades, we have continued a “less is more" strategy, following the questions and curiosity of the students, being sure to answer what is asked, liberally applying the phrase "Tell me more about …," and monitoring for changes in emotions that might result from students absorbing the concern from adults in their lives. The focus of conversations in these developmental ranges is one of safety and reassurance. Lower School teachers in the younger grades recognize that some students may process information or images from the media via games or drawings and work to provide school-appropriate outlets.
As some Lower School students begin to classify people and events and form their own opinions and preferences, we monitor their thinking for generalizations and misunderstandings and coach them to greater clarity. The oldest students are capable of examining resources as a way to clarify their schema on these topics and also grow new ideas. For example, Grade 5 students gathered their background knowledge both individually and as a class before watching some short nonfiction videos on the issues. The focus of conversations in these developmental ranges is on gathering information and voicing differing opinions respectfully and safely.
Middle School: Setting aside time in their history classes, Middle School teachers and students have been focusing on the facts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They began by reviewing what exactly had happened as Russia invaded Ukraine and then turned their attention to the geography of the region. Students learned about historic control of the region and also the most recent protests (The Orange Revolution and the Maidan Protests). Students have also learned about Russia’s claims with regard to invading Ukraine and the United States’s response to the invasion of a sovereign country.
Older students are more aware of global conflicts, and many students are particularly aware of the great cost to human life in Ukraine. In some students, this awareness understandably is causing more anxiety. It is also motivating many of them to find ways to help. Several students have been discussing ways their families are responding, and a student this week made a proposal to the Student Leadership Council to begin a coin-jar fundraising campaign for students to take an active role in contributing to the relief of suffering. More information about that effort will be forthcoming.