Resources for Educators, Families to Discuss the Events in Ukraine with Students
A Toolkit for Engaging Students During a Crisis
After more than two years of helping students cope with the challenges and complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic, comes a new hurdle for educators and families: Supporting our young people through the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.
Russian forces invaded the country of Ukraine on Feb. 23 and casualties are being reported by Ukrainian officials.
The attack is being broadcast on TV, but also on social media as Ukraine residents share images of explosions and damage. The effects are far-reaching with economic impacts that could be felt at home by all, but especially by our young people and other vulnerable populations.
In our county, there are staff and students who have U.S. military family members, and we also have staff and students with family or cultural ties to Ukraine and Russia. We must make sure that we are helping keep a safe space for all members of our community.
It's likely our county’s students have also been following these events or have overheard conversations and are curious about the cause and the impacts that this may have both globally and locally. To help students better understand this event and to place it in a broader context, we've gathered history-social science, mental health, and social and emotional learning resources to support teachers and families in helping students process these current events.
SKIP TO SECTION
Students want and need to talk about what they see, remember, and are feeling now; they need the guidance and safety of adults in their schools to be able to navigate their own emotions and trauma in a healthy, safe, and productive way. Classrooms are powerful places to help children process current events, provided educators give renewed energy to creating safe spaces for students.
As with all difficult topics, educators should be keenly aware of the emotional impact these events have on students. Teachers should pay close attention to students who may have family members in the regions and students who might be worried about how this crisis might impact them here in the United States. Before beginning a discussion, teachers are encouraged to consult resources for conducting class discussions such as Facing History and Ourselves’ Fostering Civil Discourse (PDF).
Some topics educators may consider adapting for students include:
- The impact of geopolitical issues on the United States and the extent of its obligation to respond.
- The role and authority of the president (as well as other institutions such as Congress, the media, etc.) in shaping foreign policy.
- The policy options the president has for responding to this type of crisis.
- The lasting impacts of significant historical events such as the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union.
- The human costs of war and conflict.
Links to Learn From
The resources contained below are intended solely to provide access to information. Educators know their students and school community best and should determine whether the resource best fits the need.
- The Choices Program from Brown University —The Ukraine Crisis: This resource provides information, resources, and lessons to engage students in a comprehensive analysis of the lead-up to the Russian invasion.
- Origins — The Collapse of the Soviet Union: To provide a deeper understanding of the crisis in the Ukraine, teachers may want to provide more historical context. This source provides a brief overview of the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union.
- C-SPAN Classroom: Educators can access video clips of reactions to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine from various sources.
- AllSides: Dedicated to presenting current events from multiple perspectives, this resource provides the latest news on the Ukraine from news sources that lean right, centrist, and left.
- The Stanford History Education Group: Civic Online Reasoning: In addition to the information that students learn in the classroom, they will likely also be following this event through different forms of media. Teachers may want to remind students to utilize media literacy skills such as those described through this resources.
Our students want and need to talk about what they see, remember, and are feeling now; they need the guidance and safety of adults in their home and in their schools to be able to navigate their own emotions and trauma in a healthy, safe, and productive way.
For All Ages
Rogers Behavioral Health psychologist shares tips for how to help children navigate what they may be seeing or hearing about the war in Ukraine.
- Helping Your Students Cope With a Violent World: Edutopia article features strategies for helping children make sense with historical perspective, feel empowered, and inspire them to feel hopeful.
- How to Talk to Kids About Violence, Crime, and War: Common Sense Media gathers tips and conversation starters to help you talk to kids of different ages about the toughest topics.
- Talking to Your Kids About War: VeryWell Family explores ways families can speak with young people about war, including tips on sharing information and restricting media coverage.
- It makes sense that the attack on Ukraine is causing you anxiety, experts say. Here’s what to do: CNN article that features tips for people of all ages.
For Elementary/Middle School Students
- Resilience in a time of war: Tips for parents and teachers of elementary school children: This article from the American Psychological Association can help adults guide their young children beyond fear and to resilience.
- Resilience in a time of war: Tips for parents and teachers of middle school children: The American Psychological Association breaks out tips and strategies for parents and teachers of middle school-aged children.
For Military Families
The San Diego County Office of Education creates and curates resources to support military families and students and schools that serve military children.
Trauma-Informed Resources for School Systems
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides resources that can be filtered by topic or keyword and by audience with a focus on how adults can identify traumatic responses in young people and how to support them.
More to explore
The San Diego County Board of Education is accepting online applications for student board members now through Feb. 1 on the SDCOE student board member webpage.
Alicia McBride, an SDCOE teacher in the Juvenile Court and Community Schools East Region, was recently honored by the San Diego County Credit Union as part of its Classroom Heroes program.
The Juvenile Court and Community Schools student representative on the San Diego County Board of Education for November was M’Niya, a senior at San Pasqual Academy.
The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission selected Mara Madrigal-Weiss, executive director of student wellness and school culture for the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), as its chair for the third consecutive year.
The San Diego County Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution endorsing November 2023 as National Native American Heritage Month.
There are many local scholarship and contest opportunities available for students in San Diego County. Check this page often for updates.