School can be just as stressful for students as it is for teachers. With so much expectation, responsibility, and rules placed on their shoulders, it’s no wonder education can be a serious source of stress. But as any good teacher should, helping students navigate the stressful times to succeed can ultimately be incredibly rewarding.
There are a million reasons why children might be stressed, including:
- Pressure to succeed in school from parents or teachers
- A stressful or difficult home life
- Temporary issues or changes in school or at home
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to the stress we experience. But how we react to that stress can make all the difference. For your students, learning stress-reducing habits early is incredibly valuable, and can be the foundation for better regulation of their emotions later in life.
So how can we help our class to reduce stress, enjoy school more, and calm their minds? It may seem like a difficult task, but there are a few easy options out there to help you maintain a stress-free classroom, with happier students. Read on for just a few exercises you could try to help reduce anxiety and promote self-control.
You’ve likely heard the term mindfulness used in all kinds of different concepts. From social media influencers to parenting blogs, mindfulness is a buzzword when it comes to busting stress. But despite it being a relatively new concept, it’s still highly effective when working with children. Mindfulness allows kids the chance to be entirely in the ‘now,’ without worrying about the past or the future.
In traditional mindfulness sessions, your students are invited to sit quietly with their eyes closed and be in the moment. While it takes a little practice, children can learn to pay attention to their breath or sounds around them instead of turning their thoughts internally. Mindfulness doesn’t just help with focus, though it is of benefit in that way. It also permits your students to let go of the stressors and things surrounding them and focusing solely on themselves.
A simple yet highly effective way to restore calm, breathing and movement can offer an easy way for students to turn their focus on themselves. These techniques not only provide comfort in the moment but can have long-term benefits when it comes to dealing with stress in the future. A mind-body exercise that focuses on this simplification is called deep belly breathing. As part of this, students should either sit or stand straight and take deep, consistent breaths that fill their whole stomach and empty slowly.
These techniques can then be carried over into more advanced breathing exercises that incorporate the whole body. Muscle relaxation is a popular choice for this, where students are encouraged to be aware of each muscle and part of the body. Following the teacher’s voice, the children are encouraged to release tension individually from each part of the body for full relaxation. Not only does this require students to be in the moment, but it also provides them with something calming to focus on.
Colouring and Drawing
A more engaging and active way to focus the mind and reduce stress, drawing and coloring can offer the escape students need to reduce tension. Quiet concentration and focus are required to draw within the lines and produce something that looks beautiful. This technique is also ideal for students to take home with them, as an activity to ‘shut off’ if their evenings are as stressful as their school day.
What stress-busting techniques do you use in your classroom?