Preparing for prep when your child is a bereaved sibling

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It’s an exciting time in every family when their child starts their first year of primary school. There’s a lot of firsts; the first pair of school shoes, first uniform, first readers and new friends.

But sadly, for some bereaved families, this exciting occasion can be tinged with anxiety and stress. Determining whether to share with your preppy’s teacher the death of their sibling can cause distress. It is a big decision. And you need to ask yourself what will it mean if you do tell the teacher. What will it mean if you don’t?

This decision is personal and one that a family can make together. Talk with your child about what they would like their teacher to know about their sibling and how they would like to tell them. Helping children feel confident in telling their story to the important people around them is vital to their sense of identity and allows them to control their own experiences.

It is helpful for teachers to be aware of what significant events have happened in their students’ lives before starting school. This helps them interact with your child in an authentic and empathic manner when they talk about their sibling and support them in telling their story to others in their class. Children express their thoughts and feelings in various ways – through talking, writing, drawing and playing – and when their teacher is aware of their history, they can respond with care and support.

We have heard stories of teachers who are unaware of a sibling loss inadvertently distressing a child if they have illustrated a picture or shared with the class that they have a sibling but have been unable to explain the loss.

Having a teacher who is aware of the situation can encourage your child to empower them to talk about their sibling in the years to come.


Last reviewed: 16/8/22