CLASSROOM COMPANIONS

Because there are no grades in grief

Almost all children experience the death of an important person in their life. In a recent study conducted by the American Federation of Teachers and New York Life Foundation, statistics showed that nearly 70% of teachers have at least one grieving child in their classroom.  It is likely you work with grieving children every day, even if it does not seem obvious.

 

Experiencing a death as a child increases the probability for many stressors and adversity, and can disrupt a child’s development. While school can offer children a healthy distraction and a predictable environment, many children struggle to adapt to their learning environment after a death. Difficulty concentrating, being distracted, forgetfulness, and having trouble learning are just some of the challenges students face. Additionally, students are faced with the task of navigating emotions and feelings of isolation.

ABOUT CLASSROOM COMPANIONS


Not all students are able to attend Erin's House on-site peer support groups, so we bring the program to the school. The 6-8 week in-school program provides students with the opportunity to explore and express their grief through a variety of outlets. Like all of Erin's House services, Classroom Companions in-school program is offered at no cost to the schools or to the students.

The in-school program is a peer support group that meets bi-weekly for 6-8 weeks. School groups are offered for students K-12 and are facilitated by 2 Classroom Companion volunteers/staff. Each week has a different theme with related activities determined by age and developmental appropriateness. 

OBJECTIVES

  • Opportunity for students to connect with peers who have also experienced a death; enhancing their sense of belonging at school

  • Provide a safe, nonjudgmental environment for students to express their grief

  • Explore and normalize grief reactions and experiences

  • Educate students about grief manifestations and triggers

  • Learn new coping skills to adapt to life after a death and manage emotions

  • Find ways to honor and memorialize that align with student’s needs

REQUIREMENTS

 

Schools interested in bringing the Classroom Companions program to their school must meet the requirements listed below: 
 

  • A minimum of five participants are required in order to initiate group services. It is suggested that students are within 2 grade levels of each other.

  • A consistent meeting time that allows for no less than 50 minutes long.

  • A prearranged space that can allow for an uninterrupted/private group meeting.

  • An official MOU signed by both parties prior to services. (A sample MOU and curriculum may be provided upon request.)

ENROLLMENT


We will be offering our programming to a limited number of schools each semester. Groups will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis and depending on staff/volunteer availability. You must have the required paperwork submitted and dates finalized before the enrollment period ends in order to qualify for services. 

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  • Enrollment for Fall Semester is open through SEPTEMBER 1, 2021.

  • Enrollment for Spring Semester is CLOSED.

If you or your school is interested in the Classroom Companions program,
please fill out the interest form below.

Questions? Email Kathryn McLaughlin, School Liaison.

 

Upcoming Training Opportunities

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GEARING UP FOR GRIEF IN THE CLASSROOM

Saturday, July 24, 2021 | 10:00 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.
In-person presentation onsite at Erin’s House that includes tour of Erin’s House facility, information on programming and resources offered to schools, and Q&A.

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The presentation will also be offered virtually via Zoom the following dates:

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 | 1:00 - 2:30 P.M  — REGISTER for this session

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 | 1:00 - 2:30 P.M. — REGISTER for this session

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 | 1:00 - 2:30 P.M. — REGISTER for this session

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As we look forward to a brand-new school year, we are faced with a new set of challenges and grief is at the forefront. Kids and teens are returning to a school environment with the expectation of being “back to normal". The truth is, we are all living a new normal and grieving the world we once knew. This can lead to a multitude of mental health problems for students.

This presentation will provide you with the ability to recognize grief reactions and provide concrete ways in which you can support grieving students. We will dive deep into the importance of our students' mental health and how grief plays a role in how they function. Together, we will acknowledge the struggles we face as educators and identify the best practices for developing a Compassionate Classroom for children of all ages.

 

Following this training, you will be able to:
 

  • Identify common grief reactions and grief triggers.

  • Provide support to bereaved students and their families.

  • Prepare your students for a child’s return following the death of a loved one.

  • Develop a plan of action that assists bereaved children and teens with their academic success.

  • Create an inclusive classroom for any individual struggling with their mental health.

Become a Classroom Companion

For Erin's House to provide our Classroom Companions program, we need compassionate volunteers who are looking to make a difference in the lives of grieving children.

 

We are seeking individuals who are available during day-time school hours and can commit to all 6-8 group meetings to give students consistency. Classroom Companions receive training to equip them with tools to effectively support grieving children and teens in a school setting.

 

And, of course, Erin's House provides all activities, supplies, and gas compensation (for schools outside of Fort Wayne) so that all you need to give is the love in your heart to help heal the hearts of children and teens.

 

Other Services Offered to Schools

Schools are in a unique position to provide support to grieving students, and to provide preventative interventions through understanding, compassion, and a non-judgmental environment. Erin’s House partners with schools in order to support their efforts to be a grief sensitive school.

 

In conjunction with our Compassionate Classrooms in-school program, we also offer a variety of training and resources to enable access to grief support to those who cannot attend our regular on-site program.

  • Customized grief training and education for schools and parents

  • Grief education materials for staff, students, and families 

  • Phone consultation with schools and staff about needs and resources

  • A one-time service to support schools immediately following the death of a student or school personnel 

  • Tours of Erin's House for classes and school professionals

  • Grief Book Bags as a resource for students and families after a death (limited 1 bag per school)