It has been just over a week since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti and while this is such a teachable moment for our children to learn empathy and learn about helping others, I hesitate to show Little Miss Techie (age 6) and Captain Computer (3 ½ years) the pictures in the newspaper as their first look at Haiti. While some may tell me there is merit in showing my kids the front page of our newspaper with the photos of the wreckage and Haitian people battered and bloody, this may be right for some kids but I know those images will give Little Miss Techie nightmares for a very long time.
If you want to talk to your children about the earthquake in Haiti but struggle with where to begin in your discussion about this or any other current event, PBS Parents has a comprehensive guide about Talking with Kids About News where you can:
- Find out how a child’s art and play reflects their understanding of the news in Work it Out Through Play
- Overcome the uneasiness of bringing up the topic with helpful conversation starters
I find the PBS Parents’ Age by Age Insights most useful. Learn how babies & toddlers, preschoolers, school aged kids (6-8 years), and older kids (9-11) understand the news. Read recommendations about how much news each age should see and learn how to discuss the news in an age appropriate way with your child.
Another fabulous resource is the PBS Supersisters site. Written by 3 in real life sisters, Kristen is not only a superstar mom of 3 but she provides practical advice and a mom’s perspective on how she is talking to her family about Haiti, how she is educating her kids about the region, and teaching her children to help those in need. I highly recommend reading How to Talk to your Kids about the Earthquake in Haiti.
I’ve found some great sites that feature current information about Haiti with age appropriate content for elementary ages to provide some background information about the country, news articles that explain the devastating earthquake, and how our family can help. These are sites with wonderful information that seek to educate without the blood and gore but please do look them over to ensure that the content is right for your children.
- National Geographic Kids: Haiti– This informative site features a slide show format that allows elementary ages to read the text at their own pace. Kids can learn about Haiti’s geography, nature, history, people & culture, government & economy, and fast facts through 16 slides at a reading level appropriate for fluent readers. The site has been updated to include the fact that thousands of people were killed and the presidential palace was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. The site is well designed and uncluttered with current information that is appropriate for second grade and older.
- Time for Kids– Time Magazine’s popular news magazine also publishes Time For Kids (TFK), a kid friendly version that is popular in elementary school classrooms around the country. TFK published The Earthquake Shakes Haiti with information about the quake and how to help. It is best for 3rd-4th graders and up. Time for Kids also published Earthquake Rocks Haiti on their teacher site.
- Nick.com’s Help Haiti– Nickelodeon’s kid friendly site provides ways that kids and families can help support those affected by the earthquake. The Big Help: Help Haiti suggests coordinating a fundraiser and supporting a relief organization and features a list of reputable relief organizations that are providing relief to Haitians. The site also features message boards for children to share how they are helping or their feelings about the disaster.
For recently published news stories on Nick News, click on these links that are great for fluent first grader readers and up:
Older kids are better equipped to handle the news of the earthquake in Haiti due to age and maturity but it is still important to present them with age appropriate information chock full of great links that will allow them to learn more about topics of interest. Parents of older children or teachers of middle and high schoolers should pay a visit to these sites:
- The New York Times The Learning Network has a fabulous piece on 5 Ways to Teach About Haiti Right Now that includes responding to photos, learning about earthquake science and plate tectonics, etc. with a ton of relevant links.
- PBS NewsHour Extra has a comprehensive site with an up to date news story and tons of links to resources like a photo essay from the Red Cross, country information from the CIA World Factbook, response from Haitian-American teens, how to contribute to relief efforts, and a link to send in an essay, personal story, or poem via the Student Voice section.
Thanks to Jessica from
A Parent in Silver Spring for sharing the Nick.com site, Amy (aka TeachMama) who wrote her own fabulous post about talking to kids about the earthquake in Haiti for the idea to add the Help for Haiti button to my site, and of course PBS Parents, Supersisters, and NewsHour for fabulous content. Note: I do paid consulting work for PBS Teachers but am not connected to PBS Parents, PBS Supersisters, or PBS NewsHour in any way.