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Advice for helping a Yr7 cope with grief?(6 Posts)
Sorry to post over the holidays, but now results days are done my brain is easing back into work mode!
I have a student joining my registration class in September who has a primary career with a terminal illness. Junior school have told us the carer is unlikely to make it to September, so I’m possibly having a grieving child making the big transition to senior school. Can anyone recommend any books for this age group or just any tips? I’m a new teacher and I just want to support this student as much as possible during such a difficult time
What a sad situation. Am not a teacher so can't offer any professional advice but I wondered if you were able to speak to their Yr 6 teacher to find out how the child has coped so far, what their reactions to stress have been (tears, anger etc) so you have a better idea of them as a young person? to all
Let them know that you or their head of year are available if they need you.
I've been in this situation and my student sometimes came and stayed with me as his tutor.
I'd speak to the family to see what you are ok communicating to teachers. I'd let the teachers know (if family are happy with this) and try to find a place where the child knows to go when things get to be too much. I'd do this with coordination from hoy... perhaps an exit pass for lessons? Again, depends how the child is coping...
What a tough situation...
Try - gently, over time - to find out the exact dates that are significant to do with the bereavement - not only the date of death but things like when the child found out their parent/carer was ill, when they had to go into hospital or hospice etc. Those dates may become really difficult later on (eg in Year 10-11) as grief matures and changes and staff at school change and forget that the seemingly fine pupil has had to deal with hard things at key moments in the academic year. Check in with the pupil and make sure that other staff know to be kind when they need to be. Pass on the information carefully if you leave the school.
In the short term, anything goes - you don't know how the child will deal with their grief. Help with basics such as organisation, supporting memory, paying attention to things like homework tasks and PE kit and so forth will be important - the mental load of bereavement is huge and the child may need more help than you'd expect of a child their age to manage the simple things that make school run smoothly.
Take an interest in what the child is interested in and find ways to initiate and sustain conversation about anything and everything (especially in ways that show you recognise the value in seemingly ordinary things eg 'I can't believe you played on the PS4 for 6 hours straight! You must have amazing powers of concentration - I would never be able to focus for that long. I can really respect that kind of perseverance' so that you can use opportunities to build self-esteem when they may be flailing and feeling worthless. Don't assume that only deep chats about feelings are important to the child. Any conversation at all keeps the channels open.
Offer opportunities to fill time and support friendships through simple tasks eg moving books, sorting resources, replacing display paper etc for the pupil and one or more friends so they have things to do with their hands and talk can flow without seeming too intense.
Talk to the child's Year 6 teacher/TA to find out more. Keep in touch with them - that relationship will most likely have been important and the child might feel doubly bereft if they can't keep in touch.
I echo with what's already been said. My DM (son's grandma, only 69) was killed in a car accident the day before DS2 started high school. He still wanted to start on time. I liaised with the school to make sure all his teachers knew, they avoided 'family talk' and too much discussion about what everyone had done over the summer but their form tutors each had a quiet word to let them know they could leave class at any time.
He and his brother surprised us all with their resilience.
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