When it comes to preparing our kids for emergency drills at school, one of the best things that we as parents can do is communicate clearly with our child before the drills even happen. It’s important to give them an idea of what can happen during these drills, talk about how they may feel and reassure them that while it may feel a bit scary, they are totally safe!
It is helpful for you to know your school’s emergency plan so you can talk with their child beforehand. Helping them feel ok during these drills starts with clear communication and allowing them to ask all of their questions.
Help them understand which parts of the drills will only be pretend practice – hiding in their classroom, going into the hallway or exiting the building – and which parts will be real – alarms going off, staff talking on radios or teachers explaining what to do next.
And talk about WHY these drills happen in the first place! Remind them it’s good practice to know what to do in an emergency and having these drills is just that – practice!
Know what is involved in emergency drills
Part of preparing your child for emergency drills is letting them know what they can expect when a drill happnes. This will help them stay calm and know exactly what to do. Reach out to their principal or teacher as well for their advice and info around the planned emergency drills.
What should you talk about before drills happen…
- What is involved in each drill?
Depending on which drill is scheduled – fire, tornado, intruder, etc. – kids should know what they can expect to hear, see and experience.
- What not to do
It may also be helpful to talk with your child about what they shouldn’t do during an emergency drill. No rushing, shouting or talking with other students. Knowing the expectation for certain behaviors will help them feel better prepared.
- How long will it last?
Talk about how long the drill will take. It’s a good reminder for our kiddos that they are only temporary and will be over before they know it!
Use supportive language and tools
Being supportive and understanding of how your child may be feeling when they’re faced with emergency drills at school. Your reassurance will always help them feel better!
- Know the language of drills
Having consistency in the language you use around emergency drills can help normalize them for our kids. Find out the vocabulary and language your school is using – is it an intruder drill or a lockdown drill? Use that language when talking to your kids so they are familiar with it.
- Use social stories to prepare
Social stories are a great way for kids to better understand what an emergency drill is and how they can feel prepared for one. Reading these stories beforehand gives them an opportunity to talk about their worries and ask questions.
- Draw a map or floor plan
Depending on the drill, your child may be leaving the classroom or moving somewhere within their classroom. Giving them a visual of where they can expect to physically move within the building will help ease the “not knowing” that can come with emergency drills.
Your attitude toward emergency drills will ultimately determine theirs so keep the tone, conversation and overall attitude one of positivity and preparedness.
Always reassure them that they are safe in their school and practicing these drills are a part of keeping them safe!
It’s so important that our kiddos feel prepared when something out of the ordinary happens at school, like an emergency drill. Help them feel ready by having conversations, answering questions and reminding them that emergency drills are just practice and it’s all part of keeping them safe at school!
And if you’re looking for more support for you and your child, reach out to us at Beyond Speech Therapy Specialists! We’re here to help!