The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network (ICBN) is launching ‘Listen with eyes, ears and heart,’ the first Irish online resource of its kind, which aims to empower teachers to support a pupil in their class following a death.
The resource includes a four minute animation, video footage of teachers discussing real life experiences and support materials and it is being launched by Senator Marie Louise McDonnell on Thursday at 6pm at the Irish Hospice Foundation, Nassau Street.
Bereavement experiences amongst children are extremely common. Research by the ESRI (Growing up in Ireland) demonstrates that 2.2% of nine year olds have lost a parent, 1.1% a sibling, 7% an aunt or uncle and 6% a close friend. By the age of nine 28% of Irish children have lost a grandparent.
ICBN advisory group member and National Director of Rainbows Ireland, Anne Staunton, said the organisation often receives calls from teachers seeking advice on the best way to handle a child’s bereavement.
“The reality is that there are many bereaved children in classrooms all over Ireland. We get many calls from teachers who feel they don’t know what to say to the child and are afraid they will do more harm than good. This resource is to help them in that moment and to enable them to support a bereaved pupil in their class. Children are with their teacher for a long period during the day and the teacher can be a positive influence for that child during a difficult time.”
The resource was developed by ICBN members from Rainbows Ireland, Froebel Teacher Training College, Maynooth, The Irish Hospice Foundation and an independent bereavement specialist. The project received funding from the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) and the Irish Hospice Foundation.
The animation provides six simple pieces of advice for teachers:
- Acknowledge what happened
- Ask the child how you can help
- Be flexible and understanding
- Create a supportive environment
- Maintain routine
- Listen with eyes, ears and heart
‘Listen with eyes, ears and heart’ will be available on www.childhoodbereavement.ie and will also be accessible through the AIIHPC learning hub.