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Helping Children Understand Lockdown Drills

school lockdown

The world that we live in is changing each and every day. Lockdown drills are something which we may not have practiced a decade ago. With the increase in school shootings and general violence, districts have had to react. Lockdown drills are back and a reality in most schools throughout the United States. The reaction is not meant to scare children, but to prepare and protect them in the event of an emergency.

Talk to Kids Ahead of Time

The key to lockdown drills is communication. All adults in the building and at home must be aware of what will take place. Yes, guardians are a crucial to making sure that kids feel secure and not scared during a lockdown drill. Administrators need to work with school counselors on information to share with those at home. They need to be able to provide critical information for children who may be scared of a drill.

Will there be an alarm? Will kids be forced into a small space? What changes will be made during a lockdown drill? These are all important factors which students with special needs, sensory concerns, anxiety, and others may need to be prepped on. If they are given information ahead of time and in a safe manner, it is less likely to startle them when it happens.

Of course, all children need to have teachers and others who they trust in the building talk to them. Classroom teachers, special education teachers, and therapists must work together to come up with a developmentally appropriate plan for each grade level. It is important to explain to children that this is a practice drill. Kids are curious, so you need to be able to explain that this about safety and not scare the children in the process.

Prior to an actual lockdown drill, it is important for each teacher to go over the protocol for their individual classroom. Each room may need to do different things based on windows, doors, and what floor they are on. Practice and walking through the process in a calm manner will help kids to know it’s a safety procedure and not scare them.

Share Lessons Learned

Reach out to others in your community for suggestions on how to assist students during a lockdown or drill. Some schools which have had to do an actual lockdown may have learned from a real-life experience. Organize meetings to share information which will be useful to all involved. Within your schools, take time to organize committees who will write a plan for teachers and counselors to use in the classrooms. This will be helpful when introducing the topic to new and younger students.

Another idea is to invite police and other first responders into your schools to get to know students. The more they see them outside of an emergency situation, the less likely they are to panic when seeing them during one. Cultivating relationships with these members of the community are extremely important for kids of all ages.

What has your school done to prepare children for lockdown drills? Share experiences which have worked and may not have been the best practice to help others.

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