And it seems I have good cause to be worried. Thunderstorms are responsible for causing the majority of natural disasters: tornadoes, hurricanes, flash floods, micro- and macro bursts, and forest fires caused by lightning.
When discussing severe thunderstorms with children, it’s important to also discuss safety. If you are inside:
Montessori Curriculum: Preparing for Weather Systems in the Classroom
- Stay away from windows or glass doors.
- Stay away from water – do not do dishes or take a bath or shower.
- Stay off of the phone.
- Stay away from tall things and metal objects.
- Make as little contact with the ground as possible. Go to a low spot and crouch on the balls of your feet, place your hands on your knees and lower your head.
- Remember that lightning can strike as long as you can still hear thunder. It does not need to be raining.
- Go to the lowest level of the building.
- Move into a bathroom or closet, away from windows and glass doors.
- Get under something sturdy and hold on or brace yourself with one hand.
- Cover your head and neck with your other hand to protect yourself from falling debris.
- Listen to the radio to know when the tornado has passed.
- Lie flat in a low spot so the wind and debris can blow over you.
- Protect your head and neck with your arms and hands.
Trying to convince children that there isn't any reason to be afraid will backfire. To them, their fears are not irrational. They truly are afraid! Instead, tell them you understand they are afraid or anxious and talk about ways to make the situation easier for them. NAMC's Physical Geography curriculum offers ways to explain and explore the physical phenomena that they are afraid of. Giving explanations and the chance to explore can make scary things seem more manageable. For younger children, try reading books that help explain. You may also wish to give them a coloring book like this one I found at the National Severe Storms Laboratory.
If you are at school during severe weather, it is best to find ways to help distract the children. Sing favorite songs, read aloud, play quiet games. By redirecting their attention, children will be able to find comfort by controlling their emotions.
NAMC’s Lower Elementary Physical Geography curriculum includes studying the Earth’s Atmosphere (including Weather, Air Pressure, Clouds, Wind, etc), the Earth’s Hydrosphere, The Earth’s Lithosphere, as well as Maps and Mapping, and The Sun and Earth.