Let them know it's okay to be sad
If one of your students is having a tough time, let them know that you understand this will be a sad time, and are there to talk if they'd like to. Naming ‘sadness’ is important because it reassures the child that their feeling is normal, given the circumstances.
Check in if you're unsure
If you’re unaware of any challenges but a student's behaviour indicates something’s not quite right, take the time to check in with them. If they display sadness, comfort them and allow them some quiet time until they’re ready to rejoin the class or you’re able to spend some time one-on-one.
Let their friends stay close
Sometimes peers are a great comfort too, tamariki may want their friends around them more often or while talking with you, and other tamariki often like to provide support. Empathy and compassion are great human traits and can be encouraged and modelled by you!
Reach out to whānau
If you feel it’s appropriate, it would be really kind to engage with your student’s whānau. Just keep it low-key, say you’re thinking of them and are happy to support their child. See if there is anything the school or you can do. Sometimes schools will ask the PTA for help providing meals, babysitting or other appropriate support.
Just be there
There’s no timeline for sad feelings to come and go, and it's natural to want to cheer your sad student up. Know that you don’t have to, and sometimes this just won't be possible. The best thing you can do, is offer empathy, warmth, patience and consistency. Let them know that they will feel better in time. You may also like to discuss with the student how they’d like you to respond if questions come up. Use your best judgment here!
Know that 'regular' supports can really help
Big emotions like sadness, worry and anger can, in turn, worry us. When we’re tempted to call in the professionals and experts it sometimes helps to ask: ‘What if this was my niece or nephew?’ Often, whānau can provide all of the care and support that's needed with help from their community (school, church, friends and family).