Tips for parents and educators - helping children stay connected and recover well

We want to thank schools for keeping children and young people safe last Friday. Now we need to help them stay connected and recover well. They will look to adults for the following.

  • Guidance about: 
    • what to do if they’re worried about themselves or someone else. It’s good to talk with friends but encourage them to talk with an adult they trust if they’re really worried. Their GP, a counsellor and the counsellors on the 1737 helpline are there to help.
    • what supports wellbeing. Read the advice and information from the Mental Health Foundation. Encourage these things:
      • connect with people you love
      • think about ways you can help give to others
      • take time to notice things around you that make you feel good
      • do healthy things that feel good
      • keep learning
      • be active
      • take time to sleep. 
    • online materials, especially hate talk. 
      Reinforce your whānau’s or school’s values. State what they are. State that these values support the way we talk about and work with others.
  • Information that is true and accurate and that they can understand. 
    In a media-rich environment, it’s hard for children and young people to know what’s fact, what’s opinion, and how to process things that are being said.
    • Closely monitor the use of devices.
    • Focus children and young people on messages coming from official sources.
    • Encourage children and young people to limit their time online, to avoid watching online content that’s unhelpful and to talk with an adult about anything they see that worries them. See advice from Netsafe.

The Ministry has offered traumatic incident support to all schools across the country. Schools can contact the regional Ministry of Education office for this support.

Here’s a good example of what some schools outside of Christchurch have done to support their learners.

Source: Rotorua Daily Post

A Rotorua school has joined hands to send love to Christchurch after shootings which caused the hearts of the nation to shatter.

Whanaungatanga, manawanui, aroha. Belonging, tolerance, love. This is how Rotorua schools are helping their students cope with and make sense of Friday's horrific events.

Described as one of New Zealand's darkest days, 50 people were killed last Friday during shootings in two Christchurch mosques.

Whakarewarewa School teacher Janice Simeon said the students were in shock after what had happened and the pupils showed their love by forming a heart on the field, an image of which they will send to Christchurch.

Simeon said teachers would be answering questions and offering a safe environment to have discussions following the shootings. They would also do relevant activities around the issues.

This was in line with what the Ministry outlined as helping students and young people with traumatic events, where information for parents on how to talk to their children about what had happened was also available.


Otonga Rd Primary School principal Linda Woon said staff had been briefed to ensure all teachers understood the specific needs of the pupils and that there was consistency across the school in how to move forward.

Woon said the school would acknowledge a terrible thing happened, that it was done by a bad person and he had been caught. They would also say police helped and would continue to help keep everyone safe.

She said it was important to reiterate the school values and explain what happened in ways the pupils would understand.

"We reminded them of our assembly last week where we talked about celebrating our 23 nationalities and all of our differences," Woon said.

The school plans to celebrate this diversity on Friday with a national dress day for a gold coin. The money will be donated to the victims' families.

Woon said the school would also join the Paper Doll project where pupils create paper doll chains as a symbol of unity to share with the children of Christchurch.


Lynmore School principal Lorraine Taylor said in a newsletter to parents the school would review its lockdown and safety plans.

While the school had the required safety procedures, it would be about rehearsing it, which would allow pupils to feel safer too.

Simeon said the tragedy had sparked an urgency to review what they had in place and determine if anything needed to be done better.

Taylor acknowledged the high distress some of the school families may have and said teachers had been given advice on how to manage questions from students following the massacre.

Lynmore School's Muslim families and students will lead a community vigil on Wednesday at 3.45 pm hosted by the school in the Cultural Centre.


Glenholme School held a special assembly first thing this morning with a moments silence to send aroha to Christchurch.

The Ministry of Education's enablement and support deputy secretary Katrina Casey said Christchurch was the current focus.

"We know children and young people around the country have been impacted by Friday's events, and we will also ensure they are provided with the support they need.

"This is a really difficult time for New Zealanders, and it's critical our children and young people get the support and care they need as they return to schools and other learning institutions."

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Tell us what you think.