10 Ways to Release Worries in the Classroom

With stringent
common core demands, burdensome homework, and competition for high test grades,
many students spend a lot of time worrying about school performance.  However, many of these children do not
know how to manage stress, and it can lead to sleepless nights, panic attacks, temper
tantrums, health concerns, a case of learned helplessness, and even clinical levels of anxiety and depression.  So, what can we do to help children manage the academic load
while keeping a level head?
Help your Students Understand the
Negative Side Effects of Worrying:
1)   Worrying Interferes with Learning and Makes
it Hard to Concentrate:  
If
students are worrying, they are easily distracted and will likely miss
important directions and academic content. Here is a great NY Times article on this: Click Here
2)   Worrying has a Negative Impact on Memory:
Research
suggests that stress and worries make it difficult for the brain to access
memories.  In fact, prolonged
stress can cause an excessive amount of cortisol production in the brain which can even shrink the hippocampus – the memory center of the brain. To learn more about this go to: Click Here
3)   Worrying also Makes us Stressed, Unhappy and
Unhealthy: 
Negative emotions can harm
the body and lead to illnesses and diseases.  Harvard News and WebMD offers more on this.
Help your Students Manage their Worries:
1)   Integrate Movement into the Classroom:  When your students’ attention wanes,
offer short kinesthetic brain breaks. 
Also, encourage your students to get involved in sports and other
physical activities.  Exercise has
been shown to reduce stress.  In
fact, children that exercise regularly are better able to cope with
stress.  Come read more in this NY Times article.  
2)   Manage the Homework Load Across Classes:  Be sure to communicate with other
teachers so, each day, homework loads are manageable for your students.

3)   Give your Students “Personal Days” with
No Homework: Once a week, offer your students a day with no homework.  Brainstorm with them how they can best
use this free time.

4)   Create a Worry Box: Many students are not
able to share their worries because they are embarrassed or they are afraid
that their fears will be criticized. 
If you offer your students a worry box, where they can write down and
submit their concerns, it will allow you to address the issues individually or
as a class.

5)   Teach Time Management Skills:  Break long assignments into manageable
chunks with clear expectations and deadlines.  Also discuss time management with your students and brainstorm with them ways to prepare for assignments, projects and test in advance.
6)   Offer Short Mindful Meditations: Before
tests and other stressful events, offer your students the option of
participating in a short mindful meditation.  Here are two free meditations offered on YouTube that focus on stress relief: Meditation 1  Meditation 2.  
7)   Offer an Organized System for Catch-up:  When a student misses a day or more of
school, it can be difficult for them to manage the work load when they return.  As a result, create a system where
missed content, handouts, class notes and homework can be available on the
internet, through email or attainable from a peer or advisor. 
8)   Return Assignments and Tests ASAP:  After your students turn in homework,
classwork and completed tests, be sure to return the graded material as soon as
possible.  Also, offer them the
opportunity to learn from their mistakes by providing comprehensive comments or setting
up a one-on-one session with you or support staff.
9)   Provide Extra Credit for Test
Corrections:  Encourage your
students to learn from their mistakes by offering extra credit or additional points on
their test grade for completing comprehensive test corrections.
10) Set an Example:  Students
can learn how to let go of their worries if you too exhibit this behavior.  Think aloud and let them
hear how you can take a stressful situation and manage your own worries. 
Share the Following Statistics with your Class and Discuss Them:

If you have any other ideas, I would love to hear your thoughts!
Cheers, Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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