The horrific aspects of the war: how to deal with these.

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For a teacher this can be a dilemma. How do you teach about the Holocaust and World War Two including the cruelty without shocking your pupils? Our advice: discuss the horrific aspects of the war in a careful and thoughtful way with your class and try not to make it the core of the lesson.

The atrocities can cause many reactions in young children. Children can be scared and be affected long after the lesson. In preparation for the lessons think about your class, which children could be affected by this aspect of the war? Inform parents that you will be teaching this aspect of the war so that they can also deal with it at home if necessary.

Images?

Use material showing shocking images carefully and preferable do not use them at elementary school level. Children younger than 10 do not possess the cognitive or social emotional skills to deal with this. Children are sometimes unable to talk about the subject after the shock of seeing the images. Sometimes their embarrassment  causes them to laugh at them. They often continue to think about and are affected by the images outside of the classroom.

If you really want to show them shocking images ask yourself what you aim to achieve by doing this and what you are going to say when showing the image.

Short discussion

It is useful to discuss the horrific aspects of the war in short but not to make them the core of the lesson. Remember that pupils will most probably have the opportunity to learn about these aspects of the war at a later stage in their education.

Before you start: pick out which children in your class you think might be sensitive to this aspect of the war and think of ways to support them.

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