School re-entry after the death of a parent : dissertation.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
The child's experience of re-entry into school after the death of a parent, and aspects that help and hinder that process, were explored within this research. Semi structured interviews with seven adults, parentally bereaved as primary school aged children, established a base for subsequent interviews with nine recently parentally bereaved children, their families and teachers. Findings revealed that parentally bereaved children, upon re-entry into school, feel different, often describe themselves as being 'inside a bubble' and have a survival tendency to daydream. Expressed strongly is their desire for normality at school, within which a need for non-public nurture exists. School is often seen as a safe place away from the trauma of the new home environment. Effective two-way communication between the school and home needs to be established by the school to effect the best re-entry and ongoing support for the child. The teacher plays a key role in communication with the family and child and in provision of initial support and ongoing monitoring of the child's well-being. The majority of schools are seen as inadequately prepared for supporting parentally bereaved children and need to consider staff training and pro-active planning in order to facilitate the best re-entry possible. The loss of a parent in a child's life is traumatic. Bereaved children who work through the process with the best outcomes and have less chance of being at risk, are those who are supported within an environment that provides love, respect, security and open communication. The grief of our children deserves significant input in order for those supporting them to achieve the most desirable outcomes.