As a former elementary school teacher, my first-grade classes and I participated in lockdown drills on a yearly basis. Just another drill added to the mix: fire drills, tornado drills, and now, lockdown drills. Lockdown drills are extremely important for the well-being and safety of the students in our schools. But even though they are for the benefit for all, lockdown drills can still be quite intimidating, especially for the littlest of our students.
Because of this scariness factor, I would sit my six- and seven-year-old students down on our good ole USA carpet and prepare them for what they were about to experience during the lockdown drill.
I would start our conversation by saying, “We are going to be participating in what I call a lockdown drill. First, Mrs. Hardecopf will be pulling the window shades ALL the way down to cover all the outside windows in our classroom.”
Then the lockdown drill conversation would continue with me explaining how I will turn off the lights, lock and close the door, and finally, tape up construction paper to block the window on the door and the side light windows. At that time, we, unfortunately, didn’t have Hideaway Helper lockdown shades as an option for covering windows on interior doors and long side light windows.
From there it would be time to explain how we will gather quietly on the carpet and wait. “While we wait,” I would continue in my sweet sing-songy voice, “I’d like you to practice skip counting by 2s or sing a silly song or remember a favorite family vacation and keep it all in your mind without making a sound.” Keeping a classroom of first-graders silent for an extended period oftentimes required a miracle! However, in the case of lock down drills, the students would always manage to stay settled because of the unsettling feeling of what we were doing.
BUT WHY DO WE NEED TO HAVE A LOCKDOWN DRILL?
The hardest part was answering the why. “Why do we need to have a lockdown drill?”, I would hear from my sweet and innocent students. My humble response was always, “to keep everyone as safe as possible in case there is danger in our school.”
At the time I didn’t have resources to help guide me in this part of the conversation, so I kept it as simple as possible and minimally scary. As times continue to change, educators and parents have a plethora of information that can help when discussing lockdown drills. In the article, How to Talk to Your Kids About Lock Down Drills without Scaring Them, we all can learn wonderful tips on just the right things to tell children about lockdown drills.