Kindergarten and School

Childcare, kindergarten or school can be like a second family to children. Returning after the death of their sister or brother will probably be difficult, but there are some things you can do to help make the experience positive and supportive.

Contact your child’s teacher

In most situations, you might find it helpful to let teachers and childcare workers know about what has happened so that your child can be offered appropriate support away from home. Most teachers make genuine efforts to be helpful and understanding with a child who has been through a distressing experience. If this is too hard to do, ask a relative or close friend to do this for you.

“Mitchell was in pre-school and we couldn’t imagine going through this without the love and support we received from his teachers. The pre-school placed a park bench in the grounds with a lovely plaque dedicated to Jackson’s memory. It’s lovely to think of the children playing around it.” (Toni and Richard)

“After Corey died, a plaque was installed at the kinder play area. It is placed at a level that 3 and 4 year olds can see. I think that was a lovely thing to do for Corey, and for us.” (Carinna)

“Dylan was in 1st grade and they couldn’t have been more understanding to his and our needs. The principal came to the house with a plant from all the teachers that we have planted in our special ‘Jackson Garden.’” (Toni and Richard)

Prepare your child for questions and remarks

Other children, being curious, are likely to ask pointed questions and may not be considerate of your children’s feelings. Discussing the possibility of questions and answers with your children may be helpful. Let them know that it is okay to refuse to answer any questions that are too private or too difficult.

Contact the school counsellor

Again, explain the situation and ask for help. Maybe your child could visit with this person once a week for a while. Establishing a relationship like this may be useful in the future when the need is felt.

“A few weeks after Jared died, Dean started school and Adam started kinder. No one at the school or kinder knew us or that Jared had even existed. This made it all the harder; it would’ve been easier if people knew.” (Sharon)

Inquire about a support group for bereaved children

Meeting with other children who have had similar losses can be very helpful. Feelings are easier to share in such a group. You may like to contact Red Nose Grief and Loss for information regarding support groups for bereaved young people.

“Jarrod attends the Seasons Program at school. That seems to help.” (Kylie)

Remember, children express their grief in diverse ways. Your child may display some of the following behaviours:

  • Socially inappropriate behaviour in class
  • Anger towards teacher or classmates
  • Poor grades, due to inability to concentrate or preoccupation with the loss
  • Physical ailments, such as headaches or stomach aches, either prior to or during school
  • Social isolation (they might be afraid the questions their friends may ask will make them cry at school)

These behaviours are a normal and natural part of a child’s grieving process. Usually, they are temporary but may be seen ‘on and off’ over a long period. With understanding and support, your child can be guided through this difficult time.

This article was prepared using extracts from What about the Other Kids?1 The full text is available online or contact Red Nose Grief and Loss Services on 1300 308 307 for a printed version.

Last reviewed: 22/5/19