Have you noticed that your students are coming to school all stressed? How about sleepy? On edge? Cannot concentrate?
Understanding what our students go through when they are not with us at school is just as important as what happens when they are with us. Some students have pressures to perform, and attend extra curricular activities outside of the school environment. Others have responsibilities of caring for siblings (including cooking and putting them to bed), while others don’t get back to their home base until late at night. Further to situations like this, we have students who stay up late watching television, or are on the Internet. If that is not the case, then we have students who spend their evenings chatting on their phones or texting. No matter what the situation, students have little quality personal time. They do not have the opportunity to allow their brain to process all the situations that have occurred. Even when they do go to sleep, it is not enough. They come into the classroom exhausted and unmotivated. Some even sleep at their desk. They face many challenges and often do not respond well to them because of not being able to address these situations appropriately.
We are faced with many challenges. Aiding students in understanding that their mind and body need to be healthy for them to be successful and productive is not an easy task. Now we could tell them about what they should be doing and how they should be taking care of their bodies but most of the time, students say yes they understand but do not actually do anything about it. As educators and as leaders, we need to take these situations and demonstrate to our students what is essential for their well – being. What ideas are out there to help our students?
Here are a few:
1) Quiet time: Give students the opportunity for even 5 minutes to be quiet and silent, without distractions or noise. Just some quiet time to put everything aside and have that personal time they really need.
2) Exercise: Many schools have adopted a Daily Physical Activity plan. Utilize this time to have students do a bunch of different heart pumping exercises. This will help them alleviate stress and improve their mood. Don’t stick to the classroom, go outside, run around, do line sprints. So much can be done for 10-15 minutes.
3) Have a laugh session: Did you know that laughing reduces tension, improves blood flow, and improves the health of the heart. As weird as this sounds, just start laughing. Students will definitely think you are crazy, hence start laughing at you! It doesn’t matter, in the end you have them laughing!
4) Musical Interlude: Find classical pieces of music at walking tempo (60 beats per minute). Have students listen to the music, this will have their hearts slow down to the rhythm of the music and dissolve anxiety.
5) Relaxation Techniques/Mediation: This one should be used maybe once a week and at lunchtime. Students will feel awake but very relaxed at the end of the session. This gives students the opportunity to relieve themselves from stressors and anxiety they are feeling. You as a teacher will read a script with a calm, soft voice. Students will sit or lay down in a quiet, reduced light environment. I have seen this technique allow students to relax and actually fall asleep, but awaken refreshed and ready to go. What is essential here is the fact that not only will the stress and anxiety be relieved but also will give students the opportunity to learn how to feel and deal with stressors in their lives. Go to this link for free relaxation scripts:
Have you used any of these techniques? Have you seen an improvement? Let us all know what you do to help student with their stress and anxiety.