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How To Talk To Children About The Insurrection, Other Difficult Issues


These are strange and historic times - a pandemic that's killed more than 380,000 people across our country, an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a second presidential impeachment and troops in Washington, D.C., to defend an inauguration of a new president. Times like these can be hard to explain to children.

ELIZABETH TAKACS: They had questions. They had a lot of emotions. There was a lot of anger.


This is Elizabeth Takacs. She's a teacher at E.L. Haynes Middle School here in Washington, D.C. And for her and other teachers, the question was, how do you talk to students about events that even adults are having trouble finding words for?

TAKACS: I think we all could feel the weight of the responsibility of how we were going to sort of guide our students through these moments that were, in a way, still unfolding.

MOSLEY: And other teachers had questions, too. That's where Scholastic, the children's publishing and media company, jumped in.

LAUREN TARSHIS: Our mission is to be able to help kids understand the world. So we just really want to be able to illuminate all of this for them so that they can participate in discussions.

MARTIN: Lauren Tarshis is editor-in-chief of Scholastic Classroom Magazines. She says that on the day rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, requests from educators poured in.

TARSHIS: We started hearing from teachers all over the country, and they knew that this was something extremely frightening and disruptive. And they knew that they were going to have to be prepared to answer questions the next day.

MOSLEY: Tarshis and her team went to work to make certain teachers had what they needed to talk to their kids the following morning.

MARTIN: Thinking not just about what to say, but how to say it...

TARSHIS: We worked with a psychologist because we knew that teachers also really wanted to be prepared to help students deal with the emotional aspects of watching such a troubling event unfold.

MARTIN: Takacs says these conversations can't be avoided. In fact, she insists that they are what teaching is all about.

(SOUNDBITE OF MAN MOUNTAIN'S "TO BE MADE AS NEW") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.