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Storytelling Offers Early Ed Teachers, Students Way to Heal from Harvey


August 1, 2018
Laura Isensee
KUHT TV

Early education teachers who are gearing up for back-to-school are also getting prepared for students to have lingering anxiety and other emotions from Hurricane Harvey.

“When the rain starts, children ask, ‘Is Harvey coming again?’” said Karen Capo with Rice University. “So we’re almost a year out, but those fears are still there.”

She and other experts with Rice and the nonprofit Save the Children held a workshop recently, so that teachers can learn tools and strategies to help young students affected by Harvey process their feelings and any trauma.

One strategy: a different kind of play center.

At a traditional play center, toddlers and young children often find blocks, some dolls, maybe a miniature kitchen.

“You wouldn’t normally see things like sponges, or rubber gloves or hammers, things that represented rebuilding,” said Capo, who directs the School Literacy and Culture program at Rice’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.

But, Capo explained, if children see those kinds of props, they may evoke memories and stories of Harvey. Then children as young as three years old can tell their own stories on their own terms — instead of being prodded with often blunt questions.

Another strategy is to use books that deal with themes of rain, coming together and healing.

Capo said that Rice and Save the Children plan to hold another training for early education teachers who were personally affected by Harvey or whose students were impacted in September.