About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2023 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Pages: 1809-1816
ISBN: 978-84-09-55942-8
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2023.0527
Conference name: 16th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 13-15 November, 2023
Location: Seville, Spain
More than a year ago, Russia invaded Ukraine, sparking a war that continues today. As a result, children all over the world are directly or indirectly involved in many conversations between adults around them and often watch violent images of war in the media. They hear and see anxiety-provoking information daily without always daring to share the concerns or questions that come to mind with their parents. Moreover, many Belgian schools welcoming young Ukrainians who have fled their country with their families invited their pupils to get as involved as possible in welcoming and integrating their new classmates (Josse, 2022).

Consequently, tackling the issue of war with children through targeted educational activities has now become a crucial challenge (Bruyninckx et al., 2023; Bruyninckx et al., 2023; Finet, 2019; Josse, 2022; Suzuki et al., 2015). That is why we wanted to determine the best strategies for focusing on this issue in the classroom. Unfortunately, teachers have few "ready-to-use" educational tools that enable an objective view of armed conflicts, especially with younger children, even though these educational activities are fundamental. Indeed, these actions not only help pupils to become more aware of the impact of armed conflicts on the daily lives of the most vulnerable (namely children) but also contribute to citizenship education insofar as they also address the consequences of these conflicts on respect for human dignity and the environment (Bergeron, 2019; Finet, 2019).

Contrary to what one might think, there is a wide choice of books for young people about war issues (Schneider, 2014). As part of this research, we conducted an initial systematic survey that enabled us to compile a database of almost two hundred albums aimed at children aged between 6 and 12. However, we found that teachers do not feel sufficiently trained to tackle these issues with their pupils (Bruyninckx et al., 2023; Bruyninckx et al., 2023) and that it is not easy for them to make use of all this specific literature (Finet, 2019). There was, therefore, an urgent need to develop guidelines for the appropriate use of these materials in the classroom.

To do this, we carefully analyzed each of the references found on publishers' websites or in libraries to highlight all the necessary information (including many visual elements) that can help teachers choose the most appropriate album for the teaching activity they wish to implement. At the same time, we wrote an educational guide in which teachers will find psycho-educational advice (e.g., how to manage children's emotions), a presentation of existing tools (e.g., the educational kits published by associations or NGOs), an overview of the school competitions available on this theme and various suggestions for educational workshops to put into practice.

In our communication, we will present a synthesis of this research work designed to encourage the implementation of educational strategies promoting the sharing of opinions and feelings on war issues and the acquisition of democratic skills in the classroom.
Speaking about the war in the classroom, children’s literature, educational support, educational practices, acquisition of democratic skills.