The last year has not been easy for any of us, and it’s definitely been a hard time for kids who have not gone to school for more than a year because of the pandemic. The transition from remote learning to in-person classes can also take a while and fuel anxiety in many kids. One teacher wants to look out for kids who are having a bad day and setting a simple system that gives her a heads up on her students. Rachel Harder, a US primary school teacher, knows all days are not the same, and the living conditions and dynamics at home aren’t the same either for each student. Harder wants to help her students navigate a bad day and is seeking help from their parents, reported Fox News.
Harder has asked students’ parents to send her a text containing the three words, ‘handle with care,’ so that she knows which students need extra support on a bad day. She got the idea after attending a trauma conference and learned that some police stations partnered with schools and let teachers know when one of their students has a police encounter. This would help the teachers realize that that particular student needed extra care or attention. “We loved this idea and figured there had to be a way to make this work within our own classroom community,” said Rachel.
She decided to try it out while working with the parents of an autistic student who was new to the class and struggling. That’s when she came up with the system and informed her parents of it. “I knew that when she would text me, that her daughter needed some extra time and a quiet location, not the gym for morning announcements so that the rest of her day went smoothly,” Harder said, reported Fox News.
She decided to extend the system to other parents, especially in the wake of the students returning to class after spending a year cooped up in their homes during a difficult time. She sent a note explaining the system to all the parents. “If your family is experiencing difficulty at home, I would like to provide additional support at school,” read the note. “I understand that you are not always able to share details and that’s okay. If your child is coming to school after a difficult night, morning, or weekend, please text me, “Handle with Care”. Nothing else will be said or asked. This will let me know that your child may need extra time, patience, or help during the day.”
Harder says being extra supportive of students who needed it most has made a world of difference to both the students and their families. “It’s important for me to give kids a few minutes of extra time or space – and it’s easy to give,” said Harder. The system also provides much respite to parents, giving them the comfort of knowing that the school is going to accommodate a student’s mental health, especially if they have a hard time at home. Not having to give any reason or explanation for the issues, makes it easy for parents to come forward and seek help for their kids.
“The [parents] just let me know it was a hard morning. I don’t need to know details but parents like that — they know I’m keeping an extra eye on them,” said Harder. As a teacher, she can tell when kids are having a hard time, but getting a heads up from parents can make a world of a difference. Now, teachers from all over the country are trying to implement Harder’s system.