Suggestions for teachers, parents and adults when talking to children about September 11th.
Adapted from Donna A. Gaffney, DNSc, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN
How do we begin the conversation with students who are so young that they only have knowledge of 2001 from parents and older siblings or friends? The following suggestions may help in beginning the conversation.
Language: Be consistent in how you refer to September 11, 2001
- September 11th or September 11, 2001
- 9/11, (pronounced nine-eleven) the numeric shorthand that has forever labeled this day in our history.
- If possible, show younger students a calendar
- 9-1-1: Do not use this way of referring to September 11. And correct those who may be using this term
Saying 9-1-1 is confusing, 911 is the emergency telephone number for the North American Numbering Plan
- Remember this is not just a New York, Washington or Pennsylvania event
- Students in the metropolitan areas surrounding these cities may be much more savvy about using certain words (9/11, terrorism, etc) but they still may not have full comprehension of their meanings.
- Remember that as a student matures he or she may have a different understanding and new questions about September 11, 2001.
- Twelve years is a long time in a student’s life. A child who was barely five years old will be at a completely different developmental stage at 16.
- As children cognitively mature, they are able to comprehend much more information.
- Adolescents are able to perform abstract reasoning
- A child or teen may experience feelings of their younger selves on that day, i.e. a 16-year-old remembers the feelings of that day as a 5-year-old.
- Be prepared