Emergencies and disasters can come in many forms, at any time or place, often with little or no warning. They may be traumatic for many children and adults who experience them. Supportive resources and tools like the Bee CALM Backpack can decrease the impact of a disaster, particularly on a child’s social and emotional well-being.
The Bee CALM Backpack is a collection of mindful materials for teachers and staff from Head Start and other early childhood programs to use during an emergency. CALM stands for Calming and Learning Materials.
Why should you use a Bee CALM Backpack?
Besides a Go Bag with essential emergency supplies, this backpack can help children feel calmer and more secure. It also supports the adults in charge to know what to do and focus on during an emergency. Having one Bee CALM Backpack per classroom or family child care home can help the adults in charge:
- Reduce stress and anxiety for themselves and children
- Remain calm
- Regulate their own emotions
- Respond assertively and proactively
- Support young children to know what to expect
Children may still have strong feelings, which is normal. The Bee CALM Backpack supports efforts to help children manage those strong feelings. Regularly practicing with the materials in the backpack can help everyone feel comfortable and know how to use them.
Children who have lived through disasters or experienced other traumas might have strong reactions to reminders of trauma. It can be helpful to reassure them that adults have a plan to keep them safe.
What can you include in your Bee CALM Backpack?
The items you add to your backpack can help you create a safe physical and emotional environment in a difficult time. Chosen materials need to be culturally, linguistically, and developmentally responsive to all the children in your program. Make sure to include materials in the languages that children speak, and that meet the needs of children with disabilities, suspected disabilities, and behavioral health or health care needs.
Include playful and soothing learning materials in your backpack, such as:
- Stress balls
- Feelings check-in cards
- A blanket (like the one used during reading time)
- Crayons and paper
- Printable resources:
- Any other materials adults can use to help reduce children’s anxiety and make them feel safer
When considering other items to help nurture and protect children during emergencies, keep in mind the key parts of trauma-informed care practices:
- Create a safe physical and emotional environment.
- Build close relationships between children and adults.
- Support and teach emotional regulation skills.
A Bee CALM Backpack that is ready to grab during an emergency can help you support children’s emotional responses with the same care and attention as their physical health.
Resource Type: Publication
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Last Updated: August 28, 2023