Last fall, I was invited to participate in Ready Georgia’s Teacher and Parent Toolkit pilot program. As a long-time proponent of teaching emergency preparedness lessons in the classroom, I quickly jumped on the opportunity to test out the campaign’s lesson plans and activities. With my fifth graders, I used the family communications lesson plan, which required students to go home and discuss an emergency communication plan with their parents. The lesson plan was extremely easy to implement and ideal for teachers who always wonder what to do with small 20 to 30-minute blocks of time. It also tied in perfectly with our fifth grade Earth Science standards, which cover constructive and destructive forces.
The Ready Georgia Teacher and Parent Toolkit provides resources to help encourage children (and their families) to prepare for the unexpected. Although it is designed to complement the third, fourth and fifth grade health and/or science curriculum, it can be used by any group or organization that works with children.
This fall, Ready Georgia is encouraging back-to-school preparedness among all Georgia school communities and I strongly encourage parents and teachers to take advantage of the campaign’s kid-friendly resources. In addition to the toolkit lesson plans, there are other easy ways to implement preparedness during the school year:
· Make it a priority at the beginning of each school year.
o Teachers, on the day your school completes its first fire drill, send home an email or a flyer that helps parents familiarize themselves with the protective actions schools may take during an emergency.
o Parents, ask your child’s teacher about the school’s notification procedures at the beginning of each year and ensure your emergency contact information is current.
· Give a short presentation at PTA/PTO meetings.
o Use resources in the Teacher and Parent Toolkit to educate parents. This also allows parents the opportunity to ask questions and give input.
· Publish emergency preparedness information and tips in the school/grade/classroom newsletter.
o Whether it comes out weekly or once a semester, it will give parents a chance to practice disaster drills or learn more about emergency preparedness steps with their children.
Quiana Bryant is a fifth grade teacher at Kimberly Elementary School in Atlanta.