Supporting children learning about the Russian invasion of Ukraine

When really big news hits the headlines, we cannot fully prevent the children and young people in our care from hearing about what’s happening. As the mother of an eight-year-old, however much I try to turn the news bulletins down on the radio while we’re on the school run, or switch the channel over when disturbing news is broadcast on our screens, distressing visual and mental images of course slip through and questions get asked.

Making sense of worrying events

Preventing vivid images of war from being seen by children too young to fully process events is a natural knee-jerk reaction for parents and teachers. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine is now, at the time of writing, nearly a month in duration and my wall of mute to protect small ears has holes. Chats with friends at school, snippets on social media, news broadcasts and overheard conversations between adults all serve to build a picture of what may or may not be happening, which can cause anxiety, distress and fear.

Sources of support

Fortunately, there are some reliably appropriate sources of information for children and young people so that they can learn about major world events in an age-appropriate way. As adults, we are hearing of and seeing truly atrocious events in Mariupol, Kyiv and elsewhere, but in order to help young people to make sense of them, it may be useful to draw on these sources of information and support. These sites may help:

A permanent cover-up of global events will not serve children and young people well. While we must reassure, and educate, we cannot pretend that atrocities and injustices are not happening in the world. But we can guide, support and be there for when the world seems frightening, and help to illuminate a path of action that will both calm and inspire over the coming weeks and months.