Helping Children Rebound: Strategies for Preschool Teachers After the 2005 Hurricanes

Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma have devastated hundreds of thousands of people in the southern United States. The stress and trauma have mounted over days, weeks, and months. Entire communities have been uprooted, and family members have been separated from one another or placed in cultures and environments that are unfamiliar to them. Families and communities, the two most stabilizing factors in a child’s life, have been disrupted.

Preschool-age children have been affected by the hurricane in different ways. Many preschoolers evacuated and moved in with family or friends. Some stayed and witnessed the storm firsthand. Others experienced flooding and wading through water to higher ground. Many suffered the chaos of the Superdome or life in other shelters. They may have gone without food and water for a long time. They may have witnessed death and dying. They may have been rescued by boat, bus, or helicopter. These experiences put preschoolers at risk, but children with the same experiences often respond in different ways.

As a preschool teacher, you may have a single child in your care who has been displaced, or your school or classroom may have been damaged or completely destroyed by wind and water. Your own life might be very difficult.

There are four psychological tasks that children face after a disaster such as a hurricane: 

  1. Accepting the events that have occurred
  2. Identifying, labeling, and expressing emotions
  3. Regaining a sense of mastery and control
  4. Resuming age-appropriate roles and activities

This guide is designed to assist you as you help children accomplish these tasks in your preschool classroom. We hope that it gives you practical strategies for supporting children through a very traumatic time in their lives.

Resource Info


Published by

Teaching Strategies, Inc

Authored by

Cate Heroman and Jenna Bilmes