Most students will be returning to school today, many of whom have been directly or indirectly affected by the devastating bushfires that continue to ravage the country. Like many individuals and organisations, the team at Positive Pieces Education have sought ways to assist the affected communities. We know that social-emotional skills can work as a protective factor and help to strengthen resilience in times of crisis and so we have put together this one-pager to assist schools to support their students who may be struggling or require extra support.
This helpful guide, created with assistance from our international partners, Committee for Children, includes strategies used in the Second Step program to support students' social-emotional wellbeing. It includes information on emotion management; helping students to manage their feelings surrounding the bushfires, as well as calming down techniques such as belly breathing, positive self-talk and relaxation. It also focusses on cultivating empathy for one another especially in times of crisis or in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Along with Second Step specific strategies, the document lists other ways to support students, including providing opportunities for students to process their experiences related to the bushfires and checking in with each student individually.
SIGNS OF DISASTER-RELATED STRESS
Physical or psychological distress, such as headaches, stomach aches, poor concentration, intrusive thoughts or difficulty sleeping.
Avoidance reactions such as withdrawing, shutting down, or avoiding talking about what happened.
Increased arousal such as anxiety, irritability, anger, or fear.
Change in behaviour, such as self-destructive or risk-taking behaviours, or a drop in school engagement and achievement.
Depressed mood or negative beliefs.
Please feel free to print and distribute the Support for Students Following a Natural Disaster document to your staff and colleagues who may find this information useful.